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— Frontispiece 




Author of "Work-a-Day Heroes," "Secrets of the Earth, 

"Boys' Book of Battles," "Boys' Book of Sea Fights," 

"The Young Citizens Own Book," etc. 




^' ll'^ i\ 


Copyright 1922, by 

Printed i^i ilie United Siates of America 


THOSE who pick up this book for the 
first time will probably exclaim: "Ten 
days ! Why, nobody can go around the 
world in ten days!" 

That is just the sentiment which people ex- 
pressed away back in the year 1873, when Jules 
Verne sent his mythical hero, Phileas Fogg, 
around the world in eighty days. Eighty days! 
Everybody said that might do for a story-book, 
but no real flesh-and-blood man could ever hope 
to circumnavigate the earth in any such ridicu- 
lously short period. 

Judge, then, of everybody's astonishment 
when a mere woman, Nellie Ely, hustled around 
the globe herself, in 1892, in seventy-two days! 
How people opened their eyes ! But they opened 
them still wider in 1911, when Andre Jager- 
Schmidt, traveling for a Paris newspaper, made 
the loop in a few hours less than forty days ! And 
they actually stared in 1913, when John Henry 
Mears, under the aus^Dices of the New York 
Evening Sun, did the trick in thirty-five days, 
twenty-one hours, and thirty-five minutes! 


All of which goes to show, once more, that 
truth is stranger than fiction ; that the seemingly 
impossible of the fiction of to-day becomes out- 
done by the fact of to-morrow. 

In each case the globe-trotter adopted a route 
as close to the equatorial belt of the earth as 
the traveling facilities of his time would permit. 
But this course was far from a correct one in 
theory, every contestant for honors traveling 
more or less to the northward of the equator, 
sometimes as far as forty degrees. Thus the 
round-the-world routes of the past have been 
theoretically unfair, because the bulwarks of na- 
ture along the equatorial line could not be over- 
come by the inventive skill of man in the matter 
of fast conveyances. Since there was no estab- 
lished path of travel, as with the modern race- 
track, "corners" could be cut at will by the con- 
testants, and nothing Avas said about it. But 
now, with the advent of that radical conveyance 
of the present period— the wonderful shi]3 which 
flies through the air — not only will it be possible 
to lay out around the world a course approxi- 
mately correct with its equatorial line, but we 
may exx^ect all time records of the past to be 

So now, in the cycle of things, we are relying 
again u]3on fiction in the shape of this volume, to 
set up a new guide-i)ost of days in which it will 


take mythical heroes, using the fastest mode of 
travel of the time, to make a circle around the 
world — this time almost squarely around the old 
fellow's belt. Ten days ! That is the time it takes 
our four young friends, using a type of airplane 
of their own manufacture, but embodying no 
important feature not within the scope of me- 
chanical science. 

That such a feat as theirs is within the realm 
of possibility — if not of j)robability — is evidenced 
by a newspaper story which was circulated while 
this book was in press, to the effect that two 
Australian fliers proposed to circle the globe in 
240 flying hours, or just ten days. They did 
not, however, plan to fly continuously, as did our 
heroes; and their projected tri^D was not carried 
out owing to the death of one of the aviators. 

So, hail to the fliers of to-day and to-morrow ! 
May they steer their aerial barks straight around 
the world at its broadest belt, and emulate, if not 
actually realize, our mythical flight of ten days ! 

C. C. F. 

Saginaw, Michigan' 
May 1, 1922 



I Paul and Bob 1 

II The Brothers' Invention .... 10 

III The Successful Model 18 

rV Planning a Big Airplane . . . .31 

V An Air Race Finish and a Challenge . 43 

VI The Missing Blue-prints . . . .54 

VII Who's at the Window? .... 63 

VIII The Sky-bird II 71 

IX The Test Flight 81 

X Final Preparations ..... 93 

XI Off for Panama 103 

XII Fighting a Devil-fish . . . . .114 

XIII The Strange Airplane 127 

XIV A Famill^r Face 137 

XV The Start 146 

XVI Tricked by Rivals 159 

XVII Across the Atlantic 171 

XVIII An Irritating Delay 179 

XIX Saved by the Searchlight .... 189 

XX A Jungle Adventure 199 

XXI The Double Loop 212 




XXI Above the Clouds 220 

XXIII Bombed by Rocks 228 

XXIV Riding an Airplane's Tail . . .239 
XXV Engulfed in a Volcano's Dust . . 247 

XXVI In Australia 255 

XXVII Paul Versus Pete 266 

XXVIII A Mix-up in Dates 275 

XXIX A Flying Rescue 

XXX An Alarming Discovery . . 
XXXI The Finish 



Paul never had realized how smooth that rounded 

body of the machine was (240) . . Frontispiece 

The Sky-bird II ........ 71 

Map of the Equatorial Route 97 

One of its great, battle-like fins broke above the water 121 

They shrank, cringing, back in their tracks . .197 

Torrey's hands seized the bottom rung of the ladder . 291 

Around the World in Ten Days 



" TF^V ID you say this big Air Derby around 
I 1 the world takes place this coming sum- 
^-^ mer, Bob?" 

"So dad told me at the breakfast table this 
morning, Paul. The plans have just been com- 
pleted. He said full details would be in to-day's 

"And the afternoon edition is out now, for 
there's a newsie just ahead of us who is calling 
out the Daily Independent, That's your father's 
newspaper, too." 

"It will be in there sure pop, Paul." 
"Then I'm going to get a copy right now." 
The two youths, who but a few moments be- 
fore had come out of the broad doors of the Clark 
Polytechnic Institute along with a noisy throng 
of other students, paused when they reached the 
newsboy in question, and the taller of the pair 
bought a newspaper which he shoved into an 
inner pocket of his raincoat. 


"We'll look at this in the car on our way home; 
a fellov/ can't do any reading in a storm like 
this," said the purchaser. *'Let's hurry up a bit, 
Bob; I'm so eager to see what it says about that 
Derby that I can hardly wait to get to the sta- 
tion. Say, just think of it — a race around the 
world by air! Won't that be great?" 

"I'll say so, Paul old boy! They ought to 
smash all existing records. You know that a 
man named Mears made the circuit in thirty-five 
days about seven years ago, and he had to de- 
pend on slow steam trains and steamships, aided 
by a naphtha-launch." 

"That's true. Bob. Now that we have planes 
we ought to do a lot better. But the big oceans 
are the trouble for aircraft. The Atlantic has 
been crossed by Alcock and Brown in a Vimy- 
Vickers biplane, and also by our NC-4 flying- 
boat under the command of Lieutenant Read, 
and by the big English dirigible R-34; but the 
Pacific, with its greater breadth, has seemed so 
impossible that it has never been attempted." 

"Why should it seem impossible?" 

"Because they can't carry sufficient gasoline to 
cross the Pacific." 

"But how about the islands?" 

"The majority are not level enough to permit 
a landing, and others are too widely scattered. 
I have made quite a study of transoceanic flight 


since Harry Hawker and his partner, Grieve, 
made their unsuccessful attempt last spring to 
cross the Atlantic in a Sop with machine, and for 
my part I can't see how this proposed Derby 
around the world can all be done by air, when no 
machine has ever yet been able to hop the 

*'Well, Paul, we'll soon be at the station out of 
this storm, and then we can see what the paper 
says about it," was the philosophical conclusion 
of his companion. 

With that they hurried on down the street, 
bowing their heads to ward oif the sharp sleet 
as much as possible, while they gripped their 
school-books under their arms. They were a 
splendid-looking pair of young Americans, prob- 
ably about eighteen years old, and the manner in 
which they swung along tlirough the disagree- 
able drizzle, paying scant attention to it as they 
laughed and talked, showed them to be full of 
that boundless energy and gaiety of spirits which 
only perfect health and participation in athletics 
can bestow. 

As Paul Ross and Robert Giddings approach- 
ed the next corner, a young man with umbrella 
held low in front of him hurried around it and 
ran into a small Italian girl who was carrying 
a basket of fruit. She was staggered by the 
collision; her basket w^as knocked from her arm, 


and the oranges began to roll in every direction. 
The child broke into tears, but the cause of her 
misfortune only paused long enough to say an- 
grily, "Confound you, you careless little beggar I 
Why don't you watch where you are going?" 
and hurried on his way. 

"Say, Paul, did you see the way that swarthy- 
faced chap used that little girl?" cried Bob in- 

"I certainly did," was the no less indignant 
answer. "That lazy dog ought to be horse- 
whipped. Let's help the child." 

Both boys fell to work with a will, rescued the 
escaj)ing oranges, and tucked them back in their 
owner's basket. Then, with her grateful thanks 
ringing in their ears, they hurried on once more. 

After they had gone a few steps, Paul Ross 
observed : 

"Bob, I've seen that fellow before. That was 
Pete Deveaux. He used to be an Air Mail pilot 
on the same run as my brother John, but was 
discharged for drunkenness. Since that he has 
blamed John, and has written him several threat- 
ening letters, but is too cowardly to face him." 

By this time they had reached the West 137th 
Street station of the suburban railroad which 
runs between the metropolis and various shore 
towns along the picturesque Hudson. They 
were just in time to catch a train, and found a 


comfortable seat in a rear coach. Then Paul 
brought forth the newspaper he had purchased. 
What they sought was found on the very first 
page, prominently displayed under a black-faced 

*'Read it aloud, Paul," suggested Bob, and his 
friend proceeded to do so. The article was to 
the effect that the Aero Club of America, in con- 
junction with eminent aviation associations of 
the kind in Europe and Asia, had planned to 
stimulate interest in flying by holding an air- 
craft race around the world, which would start 
on the morning of July 4th. All contestants 
must be at least twenty-one years of age, and 
furnish an entrance fee of two hundred dollars. 
They might use any type of aircraft they chose, 
and could carry as many assistants as they 
wished, even utilizing trains or steamships, if not 
less than three-fourths of their journey were 
made by air; and they must stop at least once 
in each of four continents, and cross the Atlantic 
and Pacific oceans. Aside from these provisions, 
the selection of route was left entirely to each 
contestant. Then followed an imposing list of 
names of well-known flyers who, it was said, had 
signified their intention of competing. The 
article wound up with the statement that prizes 
aggregating a million dollars would be offered 
the winners. 


"One million dollars!" exclaimed Bob Gid- 
dings. "Paul, old man, you'd better go in for 

Paul Ross's eyes sparkled, but the next mo- 
ment he laughed and shook his head. "I surely 
would like to," said he, "but there are just three 
little things in the way of it." 

"I suppose you need a machine for one 

"Yes — and you must admit that's a good- 
sized item. Second, I need two hundred dollars 
to enter — something I don't happen to have, and 
something I know mother can't spare in such a 
hazard. Third, I need three years added to my 
age in order to be eligible." 

"It does look rather hopeless for you, that's 
a fact," admitted Bob. "That second handicap 
might be overcome with my father's help, but the 
other two are real obstacles." 

"It's mighty nice of you and your father, Bob, 
to wish to help me out in this fashion," said 
Paul; "but, as you state, the other drawbacks 
cannot be swept aside so easily. Perhaps later 
on, another 'round the world Air Derby will be 
pulled off, and I shall have a chance to enter it." 

"Well, if you do, don't forget to count me in 
as an assistant," declared his friend. "Nothing 
would please me better than to make a trip like 
that with you, Paul." 


"You certainly shall be welcome if the time 
ever comes. By the way, Bob, John and I have 
designed a new type of monoplane in our spare 
time, and for the past two months I have been 
busy making a three-foot model of this. I hope 
to finish it in a day or two, and I want you to 
go with me over to the old fair-grounds next 
Saturday afternoon and give it a test flight, if 
you will." 

Bob Giddings was all interest at once, and 
plied his friend with many questions concerning 
his new model, many others of which he had in 
times past helped Paul fly with the keenest de- 
light. The truth is, Paul Ross and his brother 
John, the latter a pilot in the government Air 
Mail service, were laiown all over the State of 
New York as makers of the best-flying model 
airplanes to be found anywhere. Ever since 
they were smaU boys in grammar school, the 
brothers had been constructing miniature mono- 
planes, biplanes, and seaplanes, which they had 
pitted against the best product of other lads in 
the neighborhood and surrounding towns, with- 
out once meeting defeat. Many of these speci- 
mens of youthful ingenuity they still preserved, 
suspended in bedroom and attic, where they 
were a never-ending source of interest to visitors 
at the Ross homestead in the outskirts of Yon- 


The war had called John into the aviation 
service of his country, but Paul had still con- 
tinued his experiments in making tiny airplanes, 
getting his friend Robert Giddings, who lived in 
a fine house on Shadynook Hill, to assist him in 
the flying. Thrown together by their mutual love 
for mechanics, and being in the same classes all 
through high-school, Paul and Bob had formed 
a strong attachment for each other, although the 
latter's home was far more pretentious than the 
former's, since Paul's mother was a widow in 
only moderately comfortable circumstances, while 
Bob's father was the editor and owner of the 
Daily Independent^ one of the leading evening 
newspapers of New York City. 

When John returned from the war it was with 
an incurable passion for flying, and within a few 
months he had re-entered the service of his coun- 
try in the peaceful but dangerous work of carry- 
ing Uncle Sam's mails between Washington and 
New York in a big Martin bomber. He found 
that his younger brother's love for aviation had 
also developed, as well as his skill in constructing 
and flying model airplanes. Some of these re- 
cent ones were so novel in design and of such 
wonderfully ingenious workmanship, that John, 
who had won unusual honors as an aviator on the 
French front, was quite thunderstruck, and de- 
termined to encourage Paul's talents in this line 


in every way he could. Therefore, when the 
boy graduated from the Yonkers high school, 
and expressed a wish to take up a special course 
in aeronautical engineering at Clark Polytechnic 
Institute, John backed him up, and the mother, 
who would have preferred a less hazardous pro- 
fession for her younger son, sighingly consented. 

Paul's chum, Robert Giddings, had also gone 
to Clark Polytechnic upon leaving high school, 
his ambition being to become an electrical en- 
gineer. Thus both boys continued to be thrown 
in daily contact. It was their habit to go into 
the city to school each morning in the sedan 
with Mr. Giddings; but as he left the city late 
in the afternoon they usually took the train 

As the friends now parted, Bob Giddings' last 
words were: "Don't forget to get that new 
model airplane done by Saturday, Paul. I'm 
crazy to see it." 

"I'll be ready for you," was Paul's assurance; 
"but remember to keep this under your hat. 
It's to be a secret test, you know." 

"Trust me," said Bob. 



WHEN Paul Ross reached home that 
afternoon, it was to find someone there 
whom he had not expected to see. A 
tall, broad-shouldered young man, with a 
bronzed face and pleasant blue eyes, sat in the 
living-room, talking to his mother. 

Paul rushed forward and joyfully grasped his 
brown hand. ''Why, John!" he exclaimed, "I 
didn't expect to find you here!" 

"Of course you didn't. Buddy," was the smil- 
ing response of the young man, who was wont to 
call his younger brother by this affectionate war- 
mate term. *'The fact is, as I was just telling 
mother, two days ago I didn't know myself that 
I would be anywhere at this hour except speed- 
ing tlirough the air between New York and 
Washington on my usual mail run in my trusty 
old Martin-bird. As it is. Buddy, it looks now 
as if neither you nor I would ever handle her 
controls again." There was a note of sadness 
in John's voice as he said this. 



"Why, what's the matter, John?" asked Paul 

"It's this way, lad: You know I told you and 
mother a couple of weeks ago, when I was here 
on my last regular lay-over, that Congress was 
talking about cutting a big slice out of the Air 
Mail appropriation, in order to reduce expenses. 
Well, the upshot of it all is, they made the cut, 
and not having enough money to carry on the 
service as it has been, the head of the Air Mail 
has ordered the abandonment of all flying divi- 
sions except the main line between New York 
and San Francisco. Only those pilots will be 
kept. So that's why I am here." 

"Won't they take you on again soon, John?" 
asked Mrs. Ross. 

"I fear not, mother," rephed her elder son, 
shaking his head soberly. "Our field-superin- 
tendent did say that he would give me the first 
opening in the transcontinental line, since my 
records lead the bunch, and he even offered to 
displace one of the boys on that route and put 
me in his place, but — " 

"But you refused," interrupted Paul, with 
conclusive pride in his big brother. 

John grinned. "Well, put it that way if you 
like. Buddy," said he; "anyhow, as I said before, 
here I am. Some chap may quit or 'go West' — 
you know a round dozen of the poor chaps have 


been killed in the last year — and that may let 
me back in again. But I won't wait for it; I'll 
get after some of the commercial flying com- 
panies next week and see if I can't land a berth 
with them. I simply can't think of working on 
the ground. I guess I should have been born 
a bird, mother, instead of a human being, I love 
flying so much." 

"I really believe you would be safer if you 
were a bird, John," asserted Mrs. Ross, with an 
uneasy smile. "Birds have no motors to fail 
them, no fire to ignite and burn them up, as our 
present airplanes. How many of your own 
unfortunate associates can lay their untimely 
deaths to either one of these causes I It was only 
the last time you were here that you were telling 
Paul and me about the terrible fall Howard 
Smith had because his motor stopped, and how 
his machine ignited, and how he was burned past 

"I know," said the veteran airma,n; "those 
things will happen at times, mother, even with 
the most careful fellows. The time will come, 
I think, and very soon, when stalled motors can 
be restarted in the air, and when accidentally ig- 
nited fuel will burn itself out with no harm to 
either the machine or its occupants. The fact 
is, Paul and I have some ideas now as to how 
to overcome those very troubles, along with other 


improvements, and the first chance we get we are 
going to build an airplane along these lines and 
put it to the test, aren't we, Buddy?" 

"We surely are," was Paul's enthusiastic re- 
sponse. "One of these fine days, mother, when 
we get our patents and sell them, you shall live 
in as fine a home as the Giddings's over on 
Shadynook Hill, and when you wish to go into 
the city to do any shopping, John or I will take 
you in a beautiful sedan airplane which will be 
safer than an automobile, and which will be 
guaranteed not to raise a dust or wear out tires." 

Mrs. Ross laughed heartily at the glowing pic- 
ture her second son had drawn, more because he 
spoke with such seriousness, and because John 
too wore a matter-of-fact look during the pro- 

"Oh, I have some great dreamers here in this 
little family," she said, as she arose to resume 
her household duties. "We will hope that some 
of your dreams come true." 

Her sons laughed good-naturedly; then Paul 
turned to his brother. "Come on down in the 
basement, John," he said; "I wish to show you 
our latest miniature model, the Sky-Bird. An- 
other day's work ought to finish it." 

John followed him downstairs. In one corner 
of the large basement was a good-sized work- 
bench, lighted by two windows, and equipped 


with several neatly-arranged shelves, which now 
held a divers collection of chisels, bits, counter- 
sinks, etc. In a splendid oak cabinet attached 
to the wall above was a more extensive array of 
wood- and metal-working tools, some of which 
the brothers had bought with money earned at 
odd jobs when they were still small boys. Since, 
they had added to their set from time to time, 
as they needed this tool or that, until now few 
professional mechanics could boast of a finer as- 

Suspended from a hook directly over the 
bench was a beautiful six-foot model of a racy- 
looking monoplane of peculiar and striking de- 
sign. It was glistening in several coats of spar- 
varnish, and so light and delicate was its spidery 
frame that, as John reached out to take it in his 
hand, the exhalation of his breath set it swaying 
away from him. 

*'My word, it's a light boy all right!" ex- 
claimed John admiringly, as he carefully took 
hold of the pretty thing. "That's just the fea- 
ture we've tried to get, too. Buddy, — lightness." 
He looked closely at the long, graceful pair of 
wings, which were of an unusual thickness and a 
slight upward thrust like those of a bird, and 
which widened batlike as they ran back and 
joined the rear fuselage or body of the craft. 
"Have you put the hehum-gas in these wings 


jret, Paul, as we planned? I see you have in- 
stalled the valves. There's a valve in the after- 
fuselage, too." 

"The wings and fuselage are both filled," said 
Paul; "that is what makes the Sky-Bird so light. 
If you had brought more helium the last time 
you were here, I could have pumped in twice the 
quantity, I think, and that would have made her 
so light she would rise of her own accord, I 
really believe. As it is, she now weighs less than 
a half -ounce. I had the scales on her yester- 

John shared his brother's enthusiasm. "Fine I" 
he cried, with sparkhng eyes. "Why, that's al- 
most a neutral condition, as she is! Buddy, if 
we can apply this principle to a full-size machine 
— and I don't know why we can't — ^we shall have 
solved the biggest problem facing airplane de- 
signers to-day. With a machine weighing only 
a trifle more than her load of fuel and baggage, 
she will not only fly a lot faster but go a lot 
farther, with a given supply of fuel, than the 
present-day planes. And what is more, she could 
attain good speed with a single engine of reason- 
able power, where now many machines are handi- 
capped with the burdensome weight of an extra 
power-plant. When will she be ready to test 

**I had planned to give Eer a trial in the old 


fair-grounds Saturday afternoon," said Paul. 
"IVe asked Bob Giddings to go along." 

"That's all right; Bob is a fine lad," said 
John; "but since you have set the trial for Satur- 
day afternoon, and Bob's father is usually at 
home at that time, why don't you ask him to 
view the affair also? I'm sure he would enjoy 
it. He's a great sportsman, you know, like 
most newspaper men, and considerably interested 
in aeronautics." 

"I had not thought of it; I'll do it," was the 
prompt response of Paul. "But we must warn 
him to silence, John. Whatever happens, we 
don't wish this to get into the Daily Indepen- 

"I'd say not," rejoined the former Air Mail 
pilot sententiously. "Mum's the word; we've 
got something here. Buddy. Unless I'm greatly 
mistaken we'll be consulting with the Patent Of- 
fice at Washington much sooner than little 
mother anticipates." He poked Paul in the ribs 
as he spoke, and both young men gave vent to a 
low chuckle of intense satisfaction. It was an 
even greater pleasure to look forward to surpris- 
ing their mother than to astonishing the world 
and winning its plaudits. 

As good an airplane mechanic and flyer as 
John Ross was, his younger brother was little 
behind him in the matter of skill in handling a 


modern machine. It had been John's habit to 
return to Yonkers every two weeks for a week's 
lay-off, as customary with other pilots in the Air 
Mail service. On these occasions he had arrived 
in his plane, and during the term of his stay had 
often taken Paul up into the air for pleasure 
flights, as well as his chum Bob Giddings. Both 
boys were keen students, and it was not long 
before John could trust them to operate his big 
Martin with every confidence. Once, indeed, he 
and Paul had been caught over Long Island 
Sound in a bad storm, when the latter was in the 
pilot's seat, but Paul had brought the craft 
through like a veteran, winning his brother's un- 
stinted praise and undying respect. 



MR. GIDDINGS was glad to accept the 
invitation to the trial flight. He and 
his son met the Ross boys at the old 
race-course Saturday afternoon. This immense, 
level field, with its one-mile oval and great empty 
sheds, at one time had been the county's boasted 
fair-grounds, but two years prior to the opening 
of our story it had been sold to Mr. Giddings, 
whose residence property stretched down the 
side of Shadynook Hill and joined it. New fair- 
grounds had then been established in another and 
more centrally located section of the district. 
In the old grounds the boys of the neighborhood 
now went to fly their kites and model airplanes, 
to hold impromptu bicycle and foot races, and to 
play tag and hide-and-go-seek in the cavernous 
sheds and around the numerous sagging stables. 
It was late in the afternoon — ^just before dusk, 
when the winds would be at their quietest, and 
others not likely to be present — that our friends 
arrived at the field. There was not a soul to be 
seen. Paul, who had carried his precious Sky- 
Bird, freed it from the wrapper and held it up 



for Mr. Giddings to see. The night before he 
and John had put the finishing touches to the 
dehcate structure by adding another coat of var- 
nish and attaching the httle rubber-tired alumi- 
num wheels to the axle. 

As Paul now held it up before the admiring 
gaze of the great newspaper man, Mr. Giddings 
made no effort to restrain his admiration. "What 
a little beauty!" he cried. "Why, it's almost a 
perfect mechanical representation of a bird !" 

"Isn't she a dandy, dad?" put in Bob, his eyes 

"The Sky-Bird is really more of a bird than 
you may think, Mr. Giddings," declared Paul. 

"Yes," added his brother John. "As you 
probably know, sir, a bird gets its great buoy- 
ancy from the fact that every bone in its body 
is hollow ; in flight it fills these bones with a very 
light gas, which is formed by an action of its 
lungs in drawing in air. We have adapted this 
principle in the wings and fuselage of this little 
machine. They are airtight and filled with com- 
pressed helium-gas, which is non-inflammable 
and nearly as light as its highly volatile rival, 

"Hydrogen-gas is surely a dangerous com- 
modity around fire," said Mr. Giddings. "I 
understand that when the big English dirigible 
11-34 came across the Atlantic last summer she 


was filled with hydrogen, and that her comman- 
der and crew all wore felt-soled shoes, so that 
they would not by any chance cause a spark 
when they walked over her metal floors and lad- 
ders just beneath her great bag." 

"That is true," vouched Jolm Ross. "One 
little spark reaching any of that stored hydrogen 
would have torn that great dirigible into frag- 
ments in one gigantic blast." 

"We have handled recent newspaper copy 
containing mention of this new gas, helium; but 
I must confess I am in the dark regarding its 
nature and source," said Mr. Giddings. "What 
is it, anyway?" 

"I will refer your question to Paul here," re- 
plied John. "He is the one who worked out this 
idea of using helium in an airplane and giving 
it the best properties of a dirigible without any 
of the dirigible's handicap of clumsiness and ex- 
cessive wind resistance. He has been studying 
the properties of helium in school, also the 
flight of birds." 

"Well, not to get into a tiresome discourse, 
as Professor Herron would say, I shall make 
this description very rudimentary," said Paul, 
with a smile. "During a total eclipse of the sun 
in India in 1868, Lockyer, a British astronomer, 
saw in the spectroscope a bright, yellow line of 
light around the sun. He called it helium. 


after the Greek word for sun. So much for 
him. Twenty-seven years later an element was 
found on earth in natural-gas in Kansas, which 
gave the same bright, yellow light viewed 
through the specti^m. The people, finding it 
would not burn, disgustedly let millions of bar- 
rels of this valuable element escape into the air, 
before a scientist told them that it was of untold 
value for balloon and airship purposes. It is 
thought the gas comes from radium deposits. 
It has never been found in any country except 
the United States, and only here in Kansas and 
northern Texas, where it occurs in sands from 
14,000 to 16,000 feet deep. Our government is 
now securing about 50,000 cubic feet of helium 
per day, refusing to sell it to foreign countries, 
as it is all needed here, besides which it might 
be used against us in case of another war." 

While Paul had been telling this, Mr. Gid- 
dings had been busy jotting something down in 
shorthand in a notebook. 

"Pardon me, Paul," he said, looking up with 
a smile, "but this is so mighty interesting that, 
before I knew it, my old-time reportorial in- 
stinct had gotten the best of me, and I found 
my pencil at work. If you have no objection 
I should like to use this in the columns of the 
Daily iTidependent some time when it seems to 
fit in." 


"No objection at all, sir," assured Paul. 

Mr. Giddings began twirling the little twelve- 
inch two-bladed propeller at the nose of the model 
airplane. "What do you use for power to turn 
this propeller?" he asked, after admiring its per- 
fect proportions for a moment. "I don't see 
any rubber-bands, such as Robert here has al- 
ways used on his little machines." 

John deftly lifted off the thin veneer hood of 
the airplane, and disclosed a very small four- 
cylindered rotary pneumatic engine of bewitch- 
ing simplicity and lightness, which a baby 
could have held out in its pudgy palm. 

"Paul has worked this little motor out of 
aluminum and brass and steel, from odds and 
ends," said John. 

"With more or less help on the part of my 
elder brother," interjected Paul, 

"Well, perhaps with a little," admitted John, 
''more suggestive than otherwise." 

"What sets it going?" questioned Bob, curi- 

"The fuselage is divided into three sections," 
said Paul. "The forward section contains the 
engine here; the rear section is an airtight cham- 
ber containing helium; and the central section is 
also an airtight chamber, but contains ordinary 
air which has been pumped into it through a 
valve, using the bicycle pump John is carry- 


ing, until it is under strong pressure. When I 
turn this httle valve an outlet is opened for the 
air to escape by a tube into branches communi- 
cating with each of these four cylinders. This 
works the tiny pistons, much the same as gas in 
a gasoline-motor, and they turn the little crank- 
shaft to which they are connected, and the crank- 
shaft in turn revolves the propeller on its end." 

"Wonderfully simple!" Mr. Giddings ex- 
claimed. *' Wonderfully ingenious, too! Is this 
your invention, young men?" 

"Partly, sir," replied Paul. "I understand, a 
company in New York is making a somewhat 
similar pneumatic motor for model airplanes, but 
John and I have made some radical improve- 
ments, to our notion. To-day's test will tell the 

"Let's see the propeller spin 'er up once for 
the fun of it," suggested Bob. "It won't do 
any harm, will it? Dad and I will hold on to 
the airplane." 

"Get a good grip then," warned John Ross, 
"for you will find there's a terrific pull to the 
little rascal. Paul and I tried her in that fash- 
ion early this morning down in the basement." 

Bob and his father secured firm holds of the 
little Sky-Bird, one on each side, where the 
propeller could not strike them. 

"Ready?" asked Paul, with a smile. 


"Ready!" came the answer in unison. 

Paul touched the little valve in the tank cham- 
ber of the fuselage. The next moment there 
was a quiver, and then the propeller began 
fairly to hum. A strong, steady gust of air be- 
gan to blow in the faces of the Giddings, while 
they had to hang on grimly in order to keep 
their little charge from jumping out of their 
arms and dashing away into the air. For fully 
three minutes the propeller continued to whirl 
with undiminished speed, then slowly it began 
to slow up, and finally stopped. 

Both Mr. Giddings and his son wiped their 
hot brows as they handed the plane over to its 

"Whew!'* said Bob, "that little mule has got 
a lot of pull to her. 

"That she has," supplemented his father. 
"What sort of material is her frame made of?" 

"Balsa-wood," said John. 

"I never heard of that. Is it something new?" 

"Yes, — to the arts of civilization, but I pre- 
sume it has been used by the Indians of Ecuador, 
where it grows, for scores of years in the mak- 
ing of rafts, for which it is particularly well 
adapted. The tree looks much like our southern 
Cottonwood, and the wood apparently has no 
grain. It has a surprising toughness and 
strength, and is a trifle over half the weight of 


cork, weighing only 7.3 pounds per cubic foot, 
while the same sized piece of cork weighs 13.7 

"Has this wood ever been used in constructing 
full-sized airplanes?" asked Mr. Giddings. 

*'I think not; but Paul and I believe it will 
be the coming wood for them," said John with 
enthusiasm. "We have used it plain on this ma- 
chine. On a large airplane it ought to be re- 
inforced with transverse sections of very thin 
spruce laid latticewise. That would add con- 
siderably to its natural strength, and increase 
the total weight very little." 

"H'm, h'm!" said the great newspaper pub- 
lisher, "this is very interesting, I am sure. Now 
let us see how this little affair behaves itself in 
the air." 

Paul and his brother led the way out into 
one corner of the big field, so as to bring what 
slight breeze might spring up into the head 
of the airplane, explaining that machines with- 
out a pilot would keep a better keel under such 
conditions. John then carefully attached the 
bicycle-pump and recharged the air-tank, follow- 
ing which he took out his watch to time the 
flight. Mr. Giddings and Bob also took out 
their watches. 

Paul set the little Sky-Bird down on the hard 
earth, in a spot where there was no grass or 


other obstacle, and with his finger on the air- 
valve, said: "Practically all rubber-band motors 
require starting the model airplane off by pick- 
ing it up and tossing it away from you up into 
the air; but I think this machine will rise from 
the ground like a large plane, on account of its 
great lightness and unusual power. We will 
now see if I am right." 

To tell the truth, this being the first time he 
had really tried the Sky-Bird in a flight, Paul 
was nervous as he turned the valve, removed his 
hands from the graceful little plane, and 
straightened up. 

With a whirr like the wmgs of a partridge as 
it is flushed out of the grass by the huntsman's 
dog, the small machine shot forward a few feet 
over the smooth ground, then gracefully arose 
in the air and started away toward the opposite 
corner of the field. As it proceeded it continued 
to rise, until it reached a height of possibly 
ninety or a hundred feet, when it began to dip 

"It's a gust of wind striking it," remarked 
John uneasily. "I hope she weathers it. If 
there was only a pilot in her now, he could " 

But even as he spoke the Sky-Bird seemed to 
recover her balance. Making a pretty circle, 
away she sped on her course, neither rising 
nor falling. Like a real bird she sailed onward. 


the noise of her whirring propeller now lost to 
her fliers, but her little j)ale-yellow silk wings 
against the blue sky plainly tracing her course 
for them. Paul was running after her now as 
fast as his legs could carry him. What if she 
should keep right on and go over the far fence? 
' — ^he might lose the little darling! 

That fence was a good half-mile away. For 
his pet to cover such a distance had not seemed 
within the bounds of probability to either himself 
or John at the start, for all of their great con- 
fidence in the flying powers of the new model. 
Xow, as he kept on running and the Sky-Bird 
continued going with no sign of dropping, Paul 
really became alarmed for her safety in landing. 

But just before it reached the boundary of the 
grounds, the youth saw that the airplane was 
slowly settling. Into the next field it flew, and 
the high board fence shut it from Paul's view as 
he came up to it. With a jump he caught the 
top boards, and scrambled up, springing down 
on the opposite side. It was to see his little 
machine just miss the branches of an oak tree 
and settle down into some long grass about a 
hundred yards beyond. 

He found it undamaged, and hurried back to 
his friends in the fair-grounds, his heart beating 
jubilantly at the splendid results of the flight. 
He hugged the small airplane to his heart as if it 


were the most precious possession in the world, 
as indeed it was to him. 

Mr. Giddings and Bob were loud m their 
praise, and John smiled in that quiet way that 
told the younger brother how well j)leased he 
was. It was found that the Sky-Bird had 
passed over the lower fence in just one minute 
and three seconds, which was certainly good 
speed for such a diminutive contrivance. Sev- 
eral other flights were then made, all of which 
were equally successful. At the conclusion Bob 
Giddings was so excited that he could hardly 
stand still. 

"Dad, isn't this little thing simply a wonder?" 
he exclaimed. *'I'd give anything in the world 
if I could own a big fellow built on this prin- 
ciple. I'll bet it would pass anything now made." 

His father looked thoughtful for a moment. 
Then, turning to the Ross brothers, he observed : 
"Do you think, boys, that these features could 
be successfully applied to a full-sized airplane?" 

"There's no doubt at all about it, to my mind, 
sir," replied John Boss. "That's the next thing 
Paul and I propose doing, although I expect 
we shall have a hard time getting enough money 
to meet the expense of materials. Of course 
we shall have the regular type of gasoline engine 
in place of this pneumatic arrangement, as this 


principle won't apply to big machines. I figure 
a 400 horse-power Liberty engine would carry 
such a machine two hundred miles an hour." 

Again Mr. Giddings was silent a moment. 
Then he resumed: "John, I hear that you have 
been laid off from your Air Mail job. Is that 

"It is, sir." 

"Well, then, I am going to make a proposi- 
tion to you and Paul, and in a way Robert may 
consider himself involved, too, I expect. As 
you may know, Robert plans to be an electrical 
engineer, and Mrs. Giddings and myself are 
anxious to encourage him in every way we can. 
For some time he has been experimenting with 
wireless telegraph and telephone apparatus, and 
has made some sets of the latter which it seems 
to me are an improvement over anything now 
on the market, particularly a set for airplane 
use, which he has no means of properly testing 
out on account of the lack of the airplane. Now 
my proposition is just this: "I will meet every; 
expense of making a first-class full-sized air- 
plane like the Sky-Bird, and pay you, John, a 
wage equal to that which the government al- 
lowed you as a pilot, if you three young men 
here will do the construction work secretly, and 
if Robert may be allowed a one-third interest in 


the venture, both in the plane to be made, and 
in any future benefits to be derived from the 
patent rights." 

Of course the dehghted John and Paul ac- 
cepted this splendid offer, and Bob Giddings 
was so happy at the prospect of a fine big air- 
plane in which to install his wireless apparatus 
that he actually hugged his father. They re- 
paired to the Giddings home, and there, in true 
business form, a contract was drawn up and 
duly signed by all interested parties, with a 
notary's seal attached. 

With a copy in their possession, the Ross boys 
hurried home, after having dinner with the Gid- 
dings family, to acquaint Mrs. Ross with the 
good news. 



AS planned, the much-talked-of Air Derby 
around the world took place from Mm- 
' eola Field, New York, on the 4th of July. 
A great crowd had been attracted, owing to the 
extensive accounts of the affair in the big news- 
papers for the past several months, and a thrill- 
ing hush fell over the assemblage as, at high 
noon, one after another of the famous flyers took 
off in various types of aircraft. There were 
four big dirigibles, two of which started to cross 
the Atlantic at once, while the others took a 
northerly course with the intention of making 
the final hop from St. John's, Newfoundland, 
in accordance with several previous attempts of 
other aircraft. Besides these, seven heavier- 
than-air machines started, all making for New- 
foundland also. Four of these were flying- 
boats, two were seaplanes, and the other was a 
double-propellered biplane. 

Needless to say, the Ross boys and Bob Gid- 
dings and his father were present to see the ma- 
chines off. They had arrived in the big automo- 



bile of the publisher, and were greatly inter- 
ested in every detail of the departure. Several 
of the contestants John Ross knew, having met 
them at some time during his flying periods, and 
it gave him a chance briefly to renew old ac- 
quaintanceship and personally to wish them good 
luck on their long journey. Of course our 
friends would have given a whole lot to have 
been able to compete in the novel contest them- 
selves, but that was out of the question. 

When the last machine had disappeared from 
sight, they took their departure. Mr. Giddings 
left them at the oflice of the Daily IndepeTident, 
following which Bob drove Paul and John out 
to some of the city's beautiful parks. Late in 
the afternoon they again stopped at the news- 
paper building and picked up Bob's father, 
thereupon turning the car in the direction of 
Yonkers. Altogether they had passed a very^ 
pleasant holiday. 

"Robert tells me that your plans for the new 
airplane, the Sky-Bird II, are just about fin- 
ished, John," remarked Mr. Giddings, as they 
sped northward along the smooth surface of 
Riverside Drive, with its beautiful greenery on 
the left and its fine residences at the right. 

"Yes, sir," said John; "we have been devoting 
every spare moment to them. Of course a good 
many changes had to be made to adapt condi- 


tions from the little airplane to the big fellow, 
and to incorporate the extra pet features we all 
agreed upon were desirable. You know it never 
pays to start building an important and costly 
affair like an airplane without having every de- 
tail thoroughly planned out, and perfect work- 
ing drawings in hand. I think Paul will com- 
plete the drawings early next week, including 
copies for accompanying the specifications when 
we apply to Washington for patent rights. As 
soon as the drawings are done, we will drop in 
at your home in the evening and show them to 


"Goodl" said Mr. Giddings. "I shall await 
them with great interest. "I suppose as soon 
as I approve these drawings, you fellows will all 
pitch into the actual work." 

"We surely will, sir," laughed Paul, while 
Bob, at the wheel in front, having caught some 
of the conversation, called back with energy: 
"That's just the size of it, dad." 

"We have everything all ready," continued 
Paul. "The balsa-wood and spruce we ordered 
some time ago is on hand, and that will keep us 
busy until other needed materials arrive. We 
have repaired the big exhibition building in the 
old fair-grounds, put on new double doors and 
purchased a good Yale lock for iihem. Jolin 
and I have taken our workbench and tools over 


tHere, and Bob has helped us rig up a nice little 
five-horse power motor and small handsaw, also 
a circular saw, home-made sand-drum, a small 
planer, and a boring-machine. That building is 
dry, and has lots of room in it for housing the 
new airplane as it grows to maturity. When 
cold weather comes we can easily install a couple 
of heating-stoves to keep ourselves comfortable 
and protect our materials and the machine from 
frost damage." 

Mr. Giddings expressed himself as well 
pleased with these arrangements. As he noted 
the f oresightedness of the young mechanics his 
confidence in them expanded. 

"Don't hesitate to order anything you need, 
young men," he said warmly. ''Have them send 
the bills to me. If my trust in you is misplaced, 
I am willing to stand the consequences. This 
is not only the best kind of a practical educa- 
tion for Bob, but it is good business training for 
all of us. Go ahead; go ahead!" 

With such strong encouragement, is it any 
wonder that the three young men continued their 
operations vigorously? Not one of them scarcely 
wanted to stop long enough to eat and sleep, 
a la Edison; and as it was now summer vacation 
time, Paul and Bob were able to be with John 
all day long in the old exhibition building. 
Neighboring boys and even older people hung 


around the open doors to watch operations, but 
the builders were careful not to let them get 
close enough to gain any ideas which might be 
harmful to their interests. 

On Tuesday evening of the week following 
the start of the Air Derby, John and his brother 
put on their best clothes and hied themselves 
over to the Giddings home. In Paul's hand 
was an envelope containing the precious plans 
for the Sky-Bird II — completed at last by the 
young draftsman, and ready to be shown to the 
financial member of the quartet. 

When they were all seated in the Giddings li- 
brary a little later, Mr. Giddings scrutinized the 
plans with every evidence of satisfaction written 
upon his strong features. Now and then he 
would ask a question, as Paul explained view 
after view and detail after detail. At length he 
pointed to an oblong object situated in the 
pilot's cockpit just under the dashboard, "What 
is that?" he asked, curiously. 

"That is what John and I call an 'automatic 
pilot,' " answered Paul. "It is a new form of 
stabilizer, and made so as to overcome the de- 
fects of others which are on the market. A sta- 
bilizer should automatically keep an akplane on 
a fairly level keel no matter how air conditions 
are, even so steady that it will travel along on 
its course for a considerable distance with the 


pilot paying no attention to his controls, per- 
haps eating his lunch or reading his orders." 

"A mighty useful contrivance," commented 
Mr. Giddings. "I should think that would also 
prevent lots of accidents in bad winds." 

"It will — if it turns out as we expect/' Paul 

"Give me the full details of this," was the re- 
quest. "Remember, I am not much of an air- 
plane man." 

"Weil," said Paul, "y^^ know, sir, that it is 
far more difficult to drive an airplane than to 
guide an automobile, not merely because you 
have two steering-gears or rudders to take care 
of, one for sidewise and the other for up-and- 
down travel, but also because there are mov- 
able planes in the wings of the machine, which 
have to be worked to tip or *bank' it when mak- 
ing a turn or to keep it on an even keel when a 
gust of wind strikes it. The 'rudder' is the 
vertical plane at the tail of the machine, and is 
used for steering sideways, while the 'elevators' 
are the two horizontal movable planes just below 
the rudder, which are used for steering up and 
down. Similar planes to the latter, one situ- 
ated in the back edge of each upper wing, are 
called 'ailerons,' and one or the other is raised 
or depressed according to whether the aviator 
wishes to bank to the right or left. 


"The driver of an automobile has nothing to 
do but watch his steering-vv^heel, and be ready to 
touch a pedal when he wishes to slow up or go 
faster or stop. If he makes a curve he does not 
have to bank his machine owing to his compara- 
tively slow speed; but the aviator, traveling 
much faster through the air, must do this, bring- 
ing his airplane to a steep angle if he makes a 
very short turn. If he does not calculate just 
right, he is likely to turn upside down and meet 
his death in a nasty fall. 

"While the careful automobilist can always see 
the road in front of him and avoid rough spots 
or obstacles before he reaches them, the aviator 
cannot do this. It is true that he can see an- 
other airplane if it gets in his way, or a church 
steeple when he is flying low; but his greatest 
dangers are in the clear air itself, where they 
cannot be detected. He may suddenly drop into 
a *hole,' which is really a downward current of 
air, or he may get a terrific bump when he strikes 
a rising current. A freakish whim of the winds 
may unexpectedly take away the air support 
from under one of the wings, and he will lurch 
and dip sharply to one side." 

"And I suppose sometimes lose all control?" 
said Mr. Giddings. 

*'Yes, sir; that has very often happened," put 
in John. "A flyer friend of mine took a nasty 


tumble that way near Cleveland last year, break- 
ing three ribs. It's a wonder he wasn't killed." 

"The pilot is blind to these pitfalls," went on 
Paul. "He must control his machine largely by 
intuition and the sense of feeling, although the 
veteran airman, John says, can tell a good deal 
about what to expect from the nature of the 
earth or clouds below him." 

"That's true," averred John. "The closer you 
are to the earth the more you will feel the 
'bumps,' as we call them. They are a whole lot 
like the waves of the ocean, only invisible, and 
there will be one straight over every protuber- 
ance or depression of size in the surface of the 
earth. Mountains, hills, houses, lakes, valleys, 
rivers, forests, all cause bumps or holes in the 
air up above them. At one thousand feet they 
are pretty bad. At ten thousand feet they are 
scarcely noticeable. That's v/hy most pilots pre- 
fer to fly high whenever they can." 

"What causes the air to act in this way over 
such configurations?" ]3ropounded the publisher. 

John looked helpless, and smiled. "You've 
got me there," he admitted. "I haven't had the 
opportunity to study aerostatics the same as Paul 
here. He can probably tell us." 

"I'm not through my course yet," reminded 
his brother, "but I think I can answer that. The 
air surrounding the earth is a great belt forty or 


more miles through and is of an even thickness. 
As our globe sweeps through it, the lower strata 
of air naturally sinks down into the valleys and 
like depressions. This action pulls down the up- 
per stretches of air, thus creating what are termed 
*air-pockets' or *air-holes.' Very dangerous they 
are, too." 

"That is plain enough," declared Bob. "Now, 
dad, let Paul go on explaining this 'automatic 
pilot.' " 

"If the aviator is enshrouded in fog or tries 
to sail through a heavy bank of clouds, he is 
quite likely to lose all sense of direction," con- 
tinued Paul. "He will not know whether he is 
banking or traveling on an even keel. Some- 
times pilots have come out of a low cloud to find 
themselves dangerously close to the earth and in 
an awkward position, perhaps in a steep bank, 
a side-slip, or even in the terrifying nose-dive, 
and they have not had time to right themselves 
before crashing to earth. So you see that before 
flying can become reasonably safe, some way 
must be found of keeping the machine automat- 
ically on a level keel. 

"To operate this stabilizer of ours all the pilot 
will have to do is to guide the rudder with his 
feet. The automatic pilot works the elevator 
and the ailerons. It takes care of 'bumps' and 
'holes' and sees that the macliine banks at just 


tKe right angle on the turns. This makes the 
operation of an airplane containing the stabilizer 
even more simple than running a motor-car, be- 
cause you do not have to worry about going into 
different speed gears when climbing or descend- 
ing. You will notice on this drawing that strong 
piano-wires connect the instruments with all the 
necessary controlling planes of the machine." 

"Instruments?" interrogated Mr. Giddings. 
"I thought there was but one." 

"No; there are two stabilizers, as you will see, 
— ^here, and here," was Paul's response, pointing 
his finger to the parts. "But, as each one is 
exactly hke the other in its construction, only the 
one has been drawn in detail. The other stab- 
ilizer runs lengthwise of the cockpit and takes 
care of the elevator. Both of these are operated 
by compressed air, which proceeds from a little 
tank, right here. The tank is kept supplied 
by two tubes which lead into it, and each of 
which joins a small pump operated by a fan 
which is right here on each side of the fuselage 
where the onrush of wind will keep it humming 
as the airplane travels. 

"Each equalizer has a bore in it half -filled with 
mercury, working a good deal like a carpenter's 
level. If the airplane tilts to one side or the 
other, the mercury will try to keep its level and 
will immediately flow to the high side of the 


bore. At each end of this mercury tube there 
are electrical contact points. As one becomes 
submerged in the mercury by a tilting of the 
plane, a connection is made whereby two electro- 
magnets are energized on that side. One of 
these magnets closes an exhaust-valve, and the 
other opens an inlet-valve, in the compressed air 
tank. At once air is forced into this double 
cylinder, which you see at the bottom of the sta- 
bilizer, filling the half which is to operate its 
own set of rudders ; and a piston begins to work 
inside. The piston is connected to a toothed 
rack, as you will note, causing this to turn a 
sector engaging it. The control wires connect 
with this sector." 

"Very clever arrangement; but I don't quite 
see how, in banking, the ailerons can be brought 
back automatically to a neutral position as soon 
as the turn has been completed," ventured Mr. 

"John and I have provided for that, while Bob 
is responsible for the electrical features I have 
just mentioned," said Paul. "You will notice 
that at the top of the mercury channel there is 
a dividing wall. A tube runs from the left 
side of this wall to the right wing of the air- 
plane, also from the right side of the wall to the 
left wing. At the end of each tube there is 
what we call a Venturi tube.' This is a kind of 


suction device operated by the wind. The wind 
which blows through the left venturi tube sucks 
the air out of the right-hand side of the mercury 
tube, and the right venturi tube sucks the air 
out of the left-hand side of the mercury tube. 
The stronger the wind, the greater the suction. 
NTow, when making a turn to the right the left 
wing must travel faster than the right wing, and 
so there must be more suction in the left venturi. 
This produces a greater suction in the right-hand 
side of the mercury tube, which draws the mer- 
cury up on that side and down on the other, 
until the proper electrical contact is broken and 
the ailerons are returned to neutral position." 

"Can the mechanism be thrown out of gear 
when desired? I should think such a feature 
might be desirable," remarked Mr. Giddings. 

"Indeed it is desirable, sir," declared Paul. 
"No red-blooded pilot wishes to sit still and let 
his machine run itself all the time, no more than 
an automobilist. That would spoil all the sport. 
By merely disengaging the automatic pilot's 
wires here at the sector — the work of a couple 
of seconds — the airplane is ready for hand con- 

"How much does it weigh?" was the gentle- 
man's next query. 

"A trifle less than a hundred pounds." 

"That oughtn't to handicap an airplane any." 

"Not a bit," said Paul. 



A LL in all, Mr. Giddings expressed himself 
AA as more than pleased with the drawings 
^ -^for the Sky-Bird II. At the end of the 
explanation, he put the papers back in the en- 
velope, and asked: 

"Have you another set of these drawings in 
ink, Paul?" 

*'Yes, sir; this is a copied set; the original 
drawings from which we will make our tracings 
and blue-prints are at home," 

"You had better leave them there in a safe place, 
and work from your blue-prints in the old ex- 
hibition building at the fair-grounds, being care- 
ful to lock them up in your workbench every 
time you depart. I think you boys have a valu- 
able thing here, and it is to your interest to keep 
others from knowing your plans or seeing the 
airplane until we have full government protec- 
tion in the shape of patent rights. I shall turn 
this set of drawings over to a patent attorney 
in the city and ask him to make application to 
the Patent Office in Washington without delay." 

The next morning all three boys, filled with 



new confidence and energy, met at the fair- 
grounds as soon as they had had their breakfasts. 
Paul carried two rolls of fresh blue-prints, which 
he and John had made while their mother was 
preparing the meal. One of these sets he gave 
to Bob to take home as his own special property, 
and the other one he spread out on the work- 
bench for consultation as their needs required. 

Up to this time no effort had been made to 
keep children and curious adults out of the 
grounds, but as their machine was now beginning 
to take on real form, they determined to do this. 
On a piece of board, Paul printed in large let- 
ters, "Private Grounds; Keep Out," and Bob 
nailed this up on the outside of the high board 
fence at the entrance. The gate itself they 
closed and barred on the inside. 

"Guess that will be a sujSicient hint to the 
grown-ups," said Bob with a grin. "If the kids 
climb over, we'll fasten a red flag to the front 
of our big hangar and paint ^Dynamite' in let- 
ters a yard long across the front of the build- 

"Yes, and if that doesn't keep them away 
we'll turn the hose on them," laughed John. 

Then they fell to work on the new airplane, 
applying themselves like beavers. All three 
boys had had the splendid benefits of manual 
training when they were in the public schools. 


and knew how to handle every machine they had 
set up. In addition to this, Paul and Bob were 
first-class amateur machinists, as their courses of 
engineering in Clark Polytechnic embraced the 
use of metal-working appliances of the latest 
design, as well as wood- working machinery, and 
they could have operated other machines had 
they needed them. 

That evening the workers went back home 
tired but well satisfied with their progress. The 
next day the shavings flew again, and by the 
latter part of the week they had begun to as- 
semble portions of the fuselage, using a water- 
proof glue which had been especially prepared 
for airplanes, and applying galvanized screws 
to withstand rust in damp atmospheres. 

As the days went by, the boys, like almost 
everybody in the country, watched the news- 
papers eagerly for reports of the progress of the 
contestants in the big Air Derby around the 
world. Only four of the eleven aircraft to start 
had succeeded in getting across the treacherous 
Atlantic, two of these being dirigible balloons, 
one a flying-boat, and the other a Vickers-Vimy 
biplane. After landing on European soil one 
of the lucky airships came to grief in Italy in 
making a stop for fuel, but the driver had ob- 
tained an Italian Caproni plane and was making 
his way eastward with all haste. The other dir- 


igible, coimnanded by Americans, had reached 
Teheran, Persia, where gas-bag troubles had 
compelled her crew to continue by train. About 
the same time the flying-boat, piloted by a Bos- 
ton man, and the biplane, in control of two Eng- 
lishmen, had reached Yokohama, Japan, within 
a few hours of each other. It was said that 
these contestants would wait there for the first 
steamship going to San Francisco, as they feared 
it would be impossible to fly across the great 
Pacific stretch of almost five thousand miles. 
Upon reaching San Francisco they planned to 
continue the journey to New York in airplanes 
furnished by California aeronautical friends. 

The newspapers shortly after this announced 
the sailing of the rival parties at Yokohama. 
Storms and fog delayed the vessel. Finally she 
arrived at the Golden Gate, and then came the 
mad race across the North American continent 
in fresh airplanes. Near Cheyenne, Wyoming, 
the American plane was forced to the ground by 
engine trouble, allowing her competitor to get 
ahead several hours. This lead the American 
could not overcome, and the race ended at 5:15 
o'clock on the afternoon of July 27th, with the 
English crew first and the American crew sec- 
ond. Three days later the belated French crew, 
who had met with mishap in Italy, came in, win- 
ning third prize. 


The Ross brothers were at work in the hangar 
when Bob Giddings, who had gone into town 
on his motorcycle after some more screws, came 
back waving the copy of the Daily Independent 
containing this last account. 

"Cartier and his bunch have arrived," he cried, 
springing from his machine. ''Here it is on the 
first page. That accounts for all the prize-win- 
ners, and the excitement is practically over. The 
others will just lob in now — and they might as 
well." He tossed the paper to John. ''Here, 
read it, you fellows," he said. "You can quit 
on the Sky-Bird long enough for that, I guess. 
I'll work while you lay off a few minutes." 

Bob rolled up his sleeves, and John and Paul 
spread out the newspaper on the bench and in- 
terestedly read the article in question. As they 
finished, and were turning around to resume 
work, Bob observed: 

"Dad's got a rattling good editorial on this 
Air Derby, if I do say it. Take a look at page 
5 and see how he rips 'em up the back." 

Shoulder to shoulder, the two brothers leaned 
over the bench and read as follows : 


The world has just witnessed the finish of another effort 
on the part of mankind to circle the globe in record- 
breaking time. And once more the newspapers of the uni- 


verse, and the sporting chroniclers, are registering a new 
record in this class of human endeavor. When, three days 
ago, the English team, headed by Chester Hodge, dropped 
out of a Curtis plane into Mineola Field, it was just 23 
days, 6 hours and 15 minutes after the same crew had 
left that field in their Vickers-Vimy. This beats the 
former record of 35 days and some odd hours, made in 
1913 by John Henry Mears, by the substantial margin of 
approximately 12 days. It is a big gain — a startlingly 
short time for encompassing the world as compared with 
the efforts of the past. 

All of the three contesting crews to finish have broken 
Mears's record, and deserve great credit for their praise- 
worthy performance. The sponsors for this first great Air 
Derby around the world, the prominent aero clubs of this 
country and the Eastern Hemipshere, also deserve much 
praise for conceiving and promoting such a successful con- 
test, and in posting such magnificent prizes. 

But, in the interests of other similar tours likely to 
follow, this newspaper thinks it high time to declare itself 
opposed most vigorously to two fundamental features gov- 
erning the competition just closed. 

First, why was this contest called by its promoters an 
"Air Derby".'* In our opinion, with rules allowing the 
use of other modes of travel as well as aircraft, the title 
is a decided misnomer. It should have been termed a 
"Go-As-You-Please Derby." Not a single one of these 
contestants accomplished the girdle by airplane alone; 
every winner took a steamship across the Pacific. Here's 
hoping that when another 'round-the-world contest is pulled 
off it will be tagged with a title which fits. 

Second, when a specific record trip around the world is 
promulgated, is it scientifically correct to take a route 
which is approximately 30 per cent shorter than the actual 


circumference of the universe on which we live? In a 
foot race around a circular track judges do not let sprint- 
ers pick out their own course and "cut across lots" when- 
ever they choose. Nor is it allowed in horse raceSj auto 
races, or any form of sport where time records are regis- 
tered on curving courses. 

The Daily Independent contends that beginning with 
Jules Verne's mythical hero Phileas Fogg^ who in the story 
negotiated the journey in the improbable time of 80 days, 
back in 1872, every record-maker in the flesh and blood 
has followed northerly routes averaging the 30th parallel, 
thus traversing only about 16,000 miles of the world's 
actual circumference of 24,899 miles; and these records 
have gone down as true and complete accomplishments! 
But, because a wrongful practice, one misrepresentative of 
its purpose, has been carried on for almost a century, is 
it any reason for arguing that the process should continue 
in this advanced and enlightened day? 

We say NO! It is time for this practice of around-the- 
world humbug and cheatery to stop right now. If it 
takes our fastest modern globe-trotters a whole year to go 
around the world by a route equal to or approximating 
the equatorial girth, then let it take them a year; for the 
sake of our pride and all that is good and sincere let 
XLS do our stunts on the square. 

There are no records of an equatorial trip aroimd the 
world. Who will be the first to establish one.^ Let ns 
run a pen through all these short-cut records of the past, 
and turn a clean page for the entry of the first real 
journey around the fat old world's belt. 

As Paul finished the editorial his heart was 
beating very fast. He was a true sportsman. 


and he realized the truth in the bold stand taken 
by the Daily Independent. His brother John 
was no less favorably affected by it. 

"Bang me, if that isn't a good article!" said 
John enthusiastically. "Mr. Giddings may get 
a lot of criticism for this from a certain class 
of people, but he's taking the right course." 

"He certainly is," approved Paul. "I had 
never thought of it before, but he points the 
error out so clearly that almost anybody ought 
to realize the need of a fairer route after read- 
ing his statements. Just as he says, it's never 
too late to correct matters which have been going 
wrong, no matter how long." 

"I'd give anything I've got if I could be the 
first fellow to go around the world's belt," de- 
clared John, his brown cheeks glowing with 
deeper color at the thought; "I wouldn't care so 
much about beating these other chaps in the mat- 
ter of time, just so long as I made a fair trail." 

"Oh, John, wouldn't that be a great trip!" 
cried Paul. 

"Say, look at here," broke in Bob Giddings, 
who had been near enough to overhear all of this 
conversation. His face was glowing, too, as he 
turned toward the brothers. "When we get the 
Sky-Bird II done, why couldn't the three of us 
pick out a new course around the globe in her? 
If she's as good as we think she will be, we 


could travel over any kind of land or water with 
her, and I think we could pick out islands in 
the Pacific so that we could cross that and make 
the entire journey by air." 

"I believe this old ship could do it all right," 
said John, full of confidence and thrilled at the 
idea, as he stepped back and looked at the 
partly-assembled fuselage with a loving eye. 
"But, Bob, a trip like that would cost a lot of 
money just for gas, and you know Paul and I 
could hardly afford it." 

"I'm going to speak to dad about it, anyhow," 
decided Bob; "he has been talking airplanes and 
world routes at home to mother and me for the 
last three months, and maybe he will be in- 
terested enough to back us up. He never stops 
at anything when he once sets his mind on it." 

It was several days after this that Bob Gid- 
dings came to work with another newspaper in 
his hands. 

"Things seem to be coming our way as fast as 
they can," he said, with a mysterious smile. 
"Take in what Mr. Wrenn, the editor of this 
paper, says in this framed insert on the front 

John and Paul did as directed. The article 
was prominently displayed, and was to the ef- 
fect that the Clarion disagreed very strongly 
with the attitude adopted by its contemporary, 


the Daily Independent, in regard to around-the- 
world routes. It declared that it was physically 
impossible by any mode of modern travel to 
follow a route along, or even within twenty de- 
grees of, the equatorial line, and said it was a 
shame to assail the creditable records made in the 
past. In conclusion it stated: 

If our esteemed sheets the Daily Independent, feels so 
cock-sure of its position, why does it not do a little demon- 
strating? Whj does it not organize an expedition, and 
prove its claim? This is all bunk! We are so sure of it, 
that we right now challenge our misguided friend to run 
us a race around the world on a course of his own selection, 
at any time, by any mode of travel he may choose. There ! 
we have knocked the chip off of the Daily Independent's 
shoulder. Now let's see if our friend is really a bluffer 
or a fighter. 

"You know the Clarion is a powerful evening 
newspaper, too," said Bob, when the Ross boys 
looked up from their reading. "It has always 
been a hot rival of dad's paper, but it never got 
quite so sarcastic as this before. Dad was good 
and mad when he read this last night. *I'll show 
both the Clarion and the public whether I'm a 
bluffer or not,' he said to mother. 'If it takes 
the last cent I've got I'll organize an expedition 
to meet their chaUenge and prove my theory to 
be the correct one.' Then I woke up to our op- 
portunity. I suggested to dad that if the Sky- 


Bird turned out as we hoped, she would be the 
very thing to pioneer such a route and give the 
Clarion people a race to make their eyes stick 
out; and I said John Ross was willing to head a 
crew including Paul and myself." 

"What did he say?" asked John and Paul, al- 
most in the same breath. 

"Well, he gave a little gasp ; his eyes snapped, 
and he quit walking the floor and sat down on 
the davenport. 'Robert,' he said, 'I'll think this 
matter over.' Then he lit a cigar and went to 
smoking. Dad seldom smokes except when he's 
got something heavy on his mind." 

John and Paul now joined Bob in putting a 
knee-brace in the new airplane body. Somehow 
they had a feeling that the parts they were as- 
sembling with such care would one of these days 
go on a very long and arduous journey. 



THE Air Derby created interest all over 
the world. People in foreign lands 
talked about it and read about it in their 
newspapers, just as they had done in the United 
States and Canada. With the keenest kind of 
interest they had followed the reports of its prog- 
ress and its finish. Several nations had hoped to 
have their own representatives come in first, only 
to be disappointed. 

All this interested world pricked up its at- 
tention anew when the bold editorial of the 
Daily Independent was widely copied. As 
John Ross had predicted, and as probably Mr. 
Giddings knew before he wrote it, this particular 
article caused a furore of comment editorially 
and otherwise. Much of this, — indeed, it seemed 
the most of it — was favorable to the stand taken 
by the New York publisher. But when the 
rival sheet, the Clarion^ arrayed its strong force 
in opposition, the conservative element of the 
public felt vastly encouraged, and many were 
the heated personal arguments as well as news- 



paper duels, which ensued. Aviators all over 
the land were particularly concerned, and it goes 
without saying that the winners of the late com- 
petition were all lined up with the Clarion con- 
tingent. This paper's challenge to the Daily 
Independent for a two-party race around the 
world on the Independent's own conception of 
what it considered a fair route awoke great joy 
in the hearts of the leave-things-as-they-have- 
been adherents. Few, if any of them, particu- 
larly the publishers of the Clarion, thought Mr. 
Giddings would ever take up the challenge. 

Therefore, judge of the surprise of everybody, 
and the dismay of the Clarion staff, when a few 
days following the flaunting of its challenge, the 
front page of the Giddings paper contained the 
following, under a heavy black type heading: 


A sliort time ago the Daily Independent in an editorial 
strongly criticized the methods or rather routes used in the 
past in making world tours for a time record^ stating that 
such journeys had all been made unfairly, in that the 
routes adopted were about a third less than the actual cir- 
cumference of the globe, and that in our opinion the 
only legitimate around-the-world record could be made by 
following approximately the equatorial line. 

We expected a good deal of criticism, of course, when 


we came out thus boldly against a custom which had pre- 
vailed since the beginning of so-called "around the world" 
record trips. But we did not expect to be challenged to 
prove our sincerity by ourselves making such a journey 
in competition with our esteemed but rabid contemporary, 
the Clarion. 

To show the Clarion that we are not ''bluffing/' and that 
we are perfectly willing to demonstrate practically any 
position we ever take^ we herewith accept its challenge. 
Even now we have in process of construction a new type 
of airplane, by means of which we are confident we can 
fly approximately straight around the belly of this old 
world entirely by air. A little later we shall announce a 
time, place, and route, in our columns, and sincerely trust 
the Clarion will be satisfied with them. 

It is quite unnecessary to say that Paul and 
John Ross read the foregoing article with the 
keenest pleasure the night they reached home 
from the hangar and found their mother just 
finishing its perusal. Naturally Mrs. Ross felt 
all of the average mother's anxiety at the 
thought that her sons would be exposed to the 
perils such a long journey would invite, but 
on the other hand she was very proud to think 
their talents had placed them in such an hon- 
ored position. It had only been an evening or 
two before that Mr. Giddings, in company with 
his son Robert, had called at the Ross home- 
stead, and after a long conference with the boys 
as to the suitability of the new Sky-Bird II for 


making a world cruise, had taken his departure 
with his mind fully made up as to how he should 
meet the rival paper's challenge. 

A few days subsequently, Bob Giddings 
found, upon reaching home for lunch, that his 
motorcycle, which he was in the habit of riding 
back and forth to work, so that he could rush 
into town on short notice and get emergency 
materials for the airplane, had a flat tire. As 
he could not fix the tire then, he decided to 
walk back to the fair-grounds. 

As he emerged from the big front yard of 
his home, he chanced to look toward town, and 
observed an orange-colored taxicab standing 
near the first crossing. This would not have 
especially attracted Bob's attention, except for 
the fact that a man sitting on the front seat 
was just at that moment pointing his index fin- 
ger toward the Giddings' place, and a slender- 
looking man just descending from the cab was 
looking that way and nodding his head. 

It seemed to Bob that he had seen the pas- 
senger before, but a second look made him think 
he must be mistaken ; at least he could not place 

*'It's probably somebody to see dad. If so, 
he'll get disappointed, as dad won't get back 
from the city before evening." 

Dismissing the incident from his mind with 


this thought, Bob hurried down the road, eager 
to reach the hangar and get to work again on 
the new airplane. 

A few moments after he had passed the home 
of a youth he knew, he heard a famihar salu- 
tation, and turned around to wave his hand in a 
greeting to this friend, who had come to the 
front door. As he turned, his eye fell on a 
slender figure some distance behind, a figure 
which stepped behind a tree and stopped. 

"Humph! that's funny," mused Bob. "It 
looks a lot like that fellow who got out of the 
taxi back there by our house; I wonder what 
he's up to, anyhow?" 

He continued his way, but as he reached the 
fair-grounds gate and got out his key to un- 
lock it, the whim to look back again seized him. 
As he turned, his gaze once more rested on the 
slender form of the waj^farer, who had crossed 
to the opposite side of the road, and who now, 
finding himself observed once more, promptly 
stopped and began to fuss with his shoe-lace. 

"Say now, this is funny!" ejaculated Bob 
under his breath, vainly trying again to recall the 
identity of the lean figure and dark complexion. 
"I believe that chap is trying to shadow me. I 
wonder what in the dickens he really is up to?" 

It was the second time Bob had asked that 
question of himself, but as he was a poor source 


of information just then, he was forced to pass 
into the fair-grounds and relock the gate in as 
mystified a state of mind as before he put the 

A little later, when he reached the big hangar 
he whirled about again, as if half expecting to 
see the stranger still skulking behind him in the 
grounds. To his relief he did not detect this 
situation exactly, but he did see a dark face, 
which had been peering over the top of the 
highboard fence near the gate, drop down from 
view on the other side. 

Bob gave a grunt as he passed into the hangar 
and took off his coat. "As I live, I believe he's 
up to some sort of mischief," growled the boy. 
And when, shortly afterward, John and Paul 
Ross appeared he told of his experience and re- 
peated his suspicions. 

"That is funny," asserted John; "Paul and I 
saw nothing of any such man when we came 
along, and we passed down the same road. Per- 
haps he mistook you for somebody else." 

"I hope so, but I don't like his actions a little 
bit," declared Bob stoutly. 

With that he picked up a try-square and pen- 
cil and began laying out some work for Paul to 
cut on the circular saw, while John busied him- 
self at the boring-machine in putting a hole 
through the center of the big twelve-foot balsa- 


wood propeller which a little later would be re- 
inforced with a thin jacket of a new metal called 
"salinamum," which was made chiefly from salt 
but whose fused components made it as light 
as aluminum and stronger than tool steel. 

Soon the queer actions of the stranger were 
quite forgotten in the deep interest of the three 
young men in their work. With the prospect of 
a world tour before them if the Sky-Bird turned 
out well, they now had more incentive than at 
the beginning to build the machine with the ut- 
most skill and attention to every detail. Some 
changes, calculated to make the craft better 
adapted to the peculiar conditions she would 
be likely to meet in such a varied temperature 
were put into effect, but on the whole they found 
their original plans so well laid that no impor- 
tant features seemed to require modification or 

But if the man who had followed Bob dropped 
out of their minds the rest of that day, he was 
soon to occupy a prominent place in their 
thoughts. For the very next morning, when 
Paul and John arrived at the hangar, they were 
met at the door by a very agitated Bob Gid- 

"Fellows, what do you think has happened?" 
cried Bob, clearly very much excited. Without 
giving his friends time to answer the question 


he blurted out: "Somebody got in here last 
night and stole our plans!" 

"Stole our plans!" reiterated Paul and John 
in the same gasp. 

"That's it," said Bob,— "stole the set of blue- 
prints we have been working from. What's 
more, they must have seen the airplane before 
they got out. I went to take the plans out of 
the bench drawer here where we have kept them 
locked up, and there was the drawer wide open, 
the lock picked, and the drawings gone. I'U 
bet a herring we can thank my dark-skinned 
shadow of yesterday for this little visit!" 

"It does look as if he might have had something 
to do with this," agreed John soberly. "I won- 
der how the rascal, whoever he is, could have 
gotten in the building. There's a heavy Yale 
lock on the doors." 

"The doors were locked all right when I came 
this morning," vouched Bob. "I don't see my- 
self how — " 

"Here you are, gentlemen!" called Paul, who 
had stepped to a good-sized window near the 
head of the workbench. "Here's the fellow's 
private entrance!" And he pointed to where a 
heavy nail locking the lower sash had been forced 
aside, also to a series of indentations in the outer 
sill, where some prying tool had obviously been 
recently at work. 


"It's a clear case of theft, that's sure," ob- 
served John; "and since its only our plans that 
have been taken, it goes to show that this chap 
is very much concerned about this new airplane." 

"Perhaps he wishes to beat us out in getting 
the patent rights," Bob hinted darkly. 

"No, I don't think it's that," differed Paul; 
"our application was sent in to Washington 
some weeks ago, and you know the first one to 
apply for a certain patent gets the attention." 

"Well, then, he could use our plans and make 
and sell airplanes of their pattern, couldn't he?" 
asked Bob, whose ideas of patent laws were still 
a little vague. 

"Not at all; if he did we could sue him for 
infringement," was Paul's answer. "The only 
way he could profit by this theft, so far as I 
can see, would be to construct a machine for his 
own private use, or to give to another person. 
We could not touch him for that." 

"And that would be bad enough for us — ^if 
such a machine were used against us in this pro- 
posed race around the world, wouldn't it?" de- 
manded Bob Giddings. 

Paul and John Ross looked at him in dis- 
mayed astonishment. They had not thought of 
this contingency before. 


who's at the window? 

THE making of a big airplane is a good- 
sized job. Especially is tliis the case 
with the first airplane made up from 
new plans. And when the job has to be done 
by no more than three young men, it becomes an 
unusually formidable task. 

The loss of the blue-prints did not hold up the 
progress of our friends in the least, as it was 
only the matter of fifteen or twenty minutes' 
work for Paul to make a new set from the trac- 
ings he had at home; but there were unexpected 
difficulties met here and there in the construc- 
tive work, as is always the case in large me- 
chanical undertakings of an original nature, be- 
sides which the young builders ran into the 
usual delays caused by slow deliveries of parts 
and materials from distant dealers and manufac- 
turers; and sometimes the railroads were tardy 
in transporting shipments. 

All in all, the summer slipped away only too 
quickly, and it came time for Paul and Bob 
to go back to school again with Sky-Bird II not 


more than half finished. It is true that the 
long fuselage of the craft was done, with its 
graceful curves and splendid, roomy, enclosed 
cabin, accommodating five persons; but all con- 
cerned were a little disappointed that more pro- 
gress had not been made. Mr. Giddings had 
been quite a frequent visitor at the fair-grounds 
all through the summer, lending a voice of en- 
couragement throughout the operations. He 
looked really concerned, however, when Paul and 
Bob had to return to Clark Polytechnic Insti- 
tute for the new term of study. 

"This is rather hard on us, isn't it, boys?" 
he observed, with a light laugh in which he un- 
successfully tried to conceal his anxiety. "Here 
we are with a half -completed airplane, a race 
staring us in the face for next summer, and two 
of our workmen snatched away for the whole 
winter by the inexorable demands of school life, 
leaving only one lone fellow to finish the job." 

"We'll be able to work Saturdays, dad," ven- 
tured Bob, trying to wedge a little bit of cheer 
into the gloomy prospect. 

"And evenings. I'd be willing to work after 
supper every night for a couple of hours," pro- 
posed Paul. 

"You won't do any such thing," came the firm 
answer. "While you are at school you two 
fellows need your evenings for rest and study, 


and your Saturdays for the school-team sports. 
Only when there isn't a game on in which you 
are a contestant will I allow you to help John 
on the machine — even if it isn't finished for five 
years. I have been thinking this situation over 
for some time, for I have seen it coming," went 
on the great publisher after a moment's pause; 
*'and I have come to the conclusion that the best 
thing I can do to hustle our ship along is to 
call in another worlanan on the job, some chap 
we can trust and who knows how to handle tools. 
In fact, if he were a regular airplane mechanic 
it would be all the better." 

John Ross spoke up at once. "Mr. Giddings," 
he said, *'I think you have the right idea. Bob 
and Paul can't help me much from now on, and 
if we take that trip around the world next 
summer this machine must be done some weeks 
ahead, so that we can have a chance to test 
her out and tune her up. Now, it happens that 
Paul and I have a cousin — Tom Meeks — who is 
about my age and who flew in the same squadron 
with me over on the French front during the 
war. I will vouch for Tom's ability as a me- 
chanic and flyer, also as to his trustworthiness. 
It happens my mother just received a letter 
from Tom's folks in Illinois the other day in 
which she said the factory had closed do^vn in 
which he was working and he was out of a job." 


"And you think this Tom Meeks would be 
willing to come up here, then, and help you this 
winter for the salary I am paying you?" ques- 
tioned Mr. Giddings with interest. 

*'I think he would, sir." 

"Then write to him immediately, and tell him 
to come right on." 

In less than a week a strapping big young 
man, suitcase in hand, got off the train at the 
Yonkers depot, and was warmly greeted by his 
cousins, Paul and John Ross, who then intro- 
duced him to Bob Giddings. Bob had been so 
eager to see the new helper on the airplane that 
he could not wait for a later meeting with him. 
He took instant liking to the jolly newcomer, 
who seemed to be ever smiling, and after a short 
exchange of conversation with him hurried home 
to tell his father what a splendid fellow Tom 
Meeks was. 

Tom was domiciled in the Ross home, to 
which he had been a visitor in other years, and 
of course for the rest of that evening was kept 
busy visiting with Mrs. Ross and looking at 
the numerous miniature airplanes of Paul's. His 
praise of the little Sky-Bird, and particularly 
of the drawings of Sky-Bird II was very strong, 
and when he went to the fair-grounds the follow- 
ing morning with John and actually saw what a 
fine-looking ship the big craft was, he was 


stumped for words to express his full admira- 

Then while John and Tom went industriously 
to work, Paul and Bob rode away to Clark Poly- 
technic in New York with Mr. Giddings. Just 
before starting into the city that morning, the 
newspaper man had met Tom, and there was 
little doubt that he was well pleased with this 
addition to his force of workers. Of course 
Paul and Bob were sorry to have to interrupt 
their labors on Sky-Bird II, but there was no 
help for it, and there was some consolation in 
the thought that undoubtedly their instructors 
would let them work on some of the airplane's 
smaller parts as a portion of their school me- 
chanical practice. This supposition indeed 
proved correct, and as the fall days passed they 
found the two student chums not only partaking 
with full spirit in the sports of their comrades, 
but also contributing in no small measure to the 
progress of the work on the new airplane. 

As a rule, Paul and Bob managed to stop in 
each Saturday for at least an hour or so to lend 
some assistance to John and Tom, and when 
there were no school contests on, they spent prac- 
tically the entire holiday in the hangar. 

The cool days of November soon compelled 
the boys to install a couple of heating stoves in 
the big building, and after that the place was 


warm and cheery throughout the working day, 
no matter how blustery and nippy the weather. 
At night the coals were carefully banked with 
ashes, to keep up a fair degree of warmth until 
the following morning. 

Up to this time nothing had been seen of any 
suspicious person lurking around the premises, 
but one afternoon late in the month, when Tom 
Meeks was working alone in the hangar and 
John had gone to town after some bolts, Tom 
thought he heard a strange sound at one of the 
two windows near the workbench. 

Turning quicldy from the wing-strut which he 
had been setting in place, Tom faced the win- 
dow just in time to see a swarthy-looking coun- 
tenance, adorned with a toothbrush-like mus- 
tache, pulled out of range. The mechanic had 
been informed of Bob's experience with the man 
who had evidently followed him to the grounds 
during the summer, also of the blue-prints which 
had been stolen, and now as he observed the sim- 
ilarity in looks between tliis eavesdropper and 
the reported shadow of Bob, he became quite 

With that lack of coolness and presence of 
mind characterizing a more reserved tempera- 
ment, the imx^ulsive Tom rushed straight up to 
the window, and peered out. Of course he could 
see nothing, for the peeper had been cute enough 


upon finding himself observed to keep close to 
the side of the building as he moved swiftly 
toward its rear. 

Tom now seized the lower sash and tried to 
throw it up, so as to get a sidewise view. To 
his disgust he found it double-spiked, and re- 
alized that he had put that very second nail 
in himself upon first learning of the loss of 
the blue-prints. 

"Huckleberry pie!" sputtered Tom, using his 
favorite expression when excited. 

He whirled about and started for the door 
of the building. On account of the extensive 
size of the structure it was quite a little way 
to this. To make matters worse Tom dashed 
forward in such haste and flurry that he did not 
watch his step very closely; when he was about 
half-way to the door, his toe caught the protrud- 
ing leg of an innocent sawhorse, and the next 
moment Tom Meeks and the sawhorse were 
both overturned. 

''Huckleberry pie!" gasped the big fellow. 
His right shin hurt like fury, but he would not 
stop to examine it, and covered the remaining 
distance to the door in very ludicrous limping 
jumps. Dashing around the front of the build- 
ing, he reached the corner which gave him a view 
of the side. ^ 

Not a soul was in sight. Not to be outdone 


completely, Tom hurried along the side of the 
building. As he came near the rear end he saw 
a slender figure just clambering over the high- 
board fence of the field in the rear of the hangar. 

Lame as he was, big Tom knew there was no 
chance of his overtaking the fleet-footed and 
cunning stranger, so he returned to his work 
very much crestfallen in spirit. 

When John heard what had happened, on his 
return to work, he was considerably disturbed, 
and suggested to his comrades the advisability of 
placing a night-guard on the premises for a while 
at least, since this unknown enemy might make 
an effort some night to burn or irreparably dam- 
age the Sky-Bird. The others sanctioned this 
precaution, and thereafter took turns in watch- 
ing, although this vigilance was apparently all 
for naught, as no suspicious character appeared. 



WELL, Mr. GIddings, what do you 
think of Sky-Bird II?" asked John 
Ross, one memorable day. 
There was a smile of deep satisfaction on 
John s own bronzed features as he put the ques- 
tion, a smile which was duplicated on the faces 
of his three co-workers — Paul, Bob, and Tom 
Meeks. It was the latter part of March, Easter 
vacation week for Paul and Bob, and the two 
chums had been working every one of the last 
three days helping John and Tom put the finish- 
ing touches on the big new airplane. And now 
this Friday morning it rested gracefully upon 
its own rubber-tired wheels, its great stretch 
of wings spread out as airily as those of a mon- 
ster bird, its huge two-bladed propeller glisten- 
ing like burnished silver, and its body running 
backward in a splendid symmetrical taper, to 
end at the well-proportioned tail. Sky-Bird II 
was done at last. 

Mr. Giddings was so lost in admiration at 
the beautiful lines of the craft that he did not 
reply immediately to John's question. He had 



not seen it for almost two weeks, and in that 
time, under the onslaughts of the four boys, it 
had changed appearance in a striking way, nu- 
merous finished parts having been connected and 
paint and varnish having been applied. 

"All I have to say, young men, is that if she 
performs anywhere near as well as she looks, I 
shall be thoroughly satisfied with the money I 
have invested thus far," declared the great news- 
paper man with an enthusiasm which he did not 
try to conceal. His eyes were shining, as he 
walked around the craft looking at it from all 
sides. He rubbed his fingers lingeringly over 
the smooth fuselage, and smiled quietly as he 
regarded the name "Sky-Bird II" lettered in 
large blue characters on her sides and under- 
neath each long bird-like wing. Then he 
mounted a folding step and went through a neat 
door into the glass-surrounded cabin. This was 
deep enough to stand up in, and provided com- 
fortable upholstered cane seats for the pilot and 
four passengers or assistants. All of these seats 
except the pilot's and observer's were convertible, 
forming supports for the swinging of as many 
hammocks, and in a small space at the rear was 
a neat little gasoline-burner, and over it a built- 
in cupboard containing some simple aluminum 
cooking ware. 

"Well, I declare!" said Mr. Giddings in 


amazement at the convenience of things, ''it 
looks as if you fellows hadn't left out a single 
item needed in a long and enjoyable cruise." 

"There's nothing like being fixed up for all 
emergencies, sir," laughed Jolm. "As you no- 
tice, we have everything for night-flying as well 
as day-flying. With such a machine as this 
there is no reason why a crew of four or five 
could not run nights as well as days, two op- 
erating while the others sleep in the hammocks. 
Cold foods can be cooked or warmed up on the 
gas-stove when needed, and the enclosed cabin 
protects all hands from the worst effects of bad 

"Wouldn't this glass break in a hailstorm?" 
asked Mr. Giddings. "It seems to be pretty 

"It is thin," said Paul; "that is to give it 
lightness. It might check some in a hailstorm, 
but it could not break out, as it is made of two 
layers of glass between which is cemented a thin 
sheet of celluloid." 

"I think you had two Liberty motors here in 
the hangar when I was here last. I neglected 
to ask you the power of these, and what you 
need two for," observed Mr. Giddings. "I 
thought you said in the beginning that you con- 
sidered one 400 horse-power engine of sufficient 
strength to carry tliis plane at a fast clip." 


"It is this way, sir," responded John. "The 
regular big biplane of the bomber type carries 
two propellers with an engine for each propeller. 
If one motor fails them when flying, about all 
the other is good for is to make a landing with. 
By reason of the great lightness of our airplane 
one good 400 horse-power motor is all we need 
for pulling purposes. But suppose this should 
fail, as any motor might do? We could not 
continue, any more than the other fellow, and 
would have to volplane to the ground. Again, 
suppose we wished to fly continuously more than 
twelve hours? We could not do so, as such a 
steady run would heat the best motor and ru.ii 
it. These two Liberty motors, which we have, 
overcome all these troubles. Both are so ar- 
ranged that a simple switch connects and dis- 
connects either one with the propeller, and both 
can be put at work at the one time if needed in 
a bad storm. If one stalls, the other can im- 
mediately be thrown in and a forced landing 
obviated. Moreover, if we could get fuel when 
needed, with tliis arrangement I am safe in say- 
ing we could fly steadily day and night, resting 
one motor and working its mate, for a week or 

"What is this?" As he spoke the publisher 
touched a peculiar-looking helmet hanging from 
a hook near the pilot's seat. 


Bob laughed. "Why, don't you recognize the 
products of your talented son, dad?" he cried, as 
he took the object down and clapped it over his 
father's iron-gray head. ''That's my new wire- 
less telephone headpiece, and right underneath it 
here is the mahogany cabinet containing the send- 
ing and receiving instruments. You see, these 
two wires run from the plug up to the re- 
ceivers, there being one receiver in each side of 
the helmet, right over your ear, pressing against 
the ear tightly by means of a sponge-rubber 

"A man looks like a padded football player 
with this thing on," said IMr. Giddings with a 
smile. "Why is a helmet required at all?" 

"We wouldn't require it so much with these 
motors, as they are equipped with a new kind of 
muffler which shuts out about four-fifths of the 
noise other airplanes get," explained Bob. "But 
for all that there are always noises in airplanes; 
for instance, they say the w^hirr of the propeller 
when it is revolving about 1450 revolutions per 
minute, or at the full speed of this one, makes 
quite a roar; so you see the need of the helmet 
to shut out all undesirable sounds possible. In 
ordinary planes the crew cannot talk to each 
other except by using phones or putting their 
lips to each other's ears and yelling at the top 
of their voices, according to what John and Tom 


tell me. But we don't expect to have that trou- 
ble in this enclosed cabin and with this new 
muffler working, do we, fellows?" 

"I'm sure we won't," said John. 

"Not if I'm any judge," grinned Tom. 

"Can you talk with a ground station when 
you're flying, say a couple of miles high?" asked 
Mr. Giddings, examining a transmitter attached 
to a yoked wire support which his son slipped 
over his shoulders. 

"Farther than that. With this particular 
vacuum tube, which will amplify sounds three 
or four times over any other I have tried, 
we expect to talk with ground stations or other 
aircraft at a distance of three thousand miles. 
Notice what a simple thing it is, dad," and Bob 
indicated a little glass bulb which looked a lot 
like an ordinary incandescent light, but which 
had a peculiar arrangement of wires and sub- 
stances inside. 

"Is the transmitter or receiver made just like 
the ordinary kind?" asked Mr. Giddings. 

"Practically the same, dad. The wireless 
transmitter, like that of the wire telephone, con- 
tains a sensitive diaphragm which your voice 
strikes and sets to vibrating. There vibrations 
compress and release a capsule of carbon gran- 
ules which agitate and set in motion an electrical 


current in two magnets connecting with them. 
The magnets convey the sound-waves in the 
form of electrical waves, along wires out to the 
tip of each wing, where the wires hang down a 
little way. When a message comes in it is 
caught by a webbing of antenna3 wires in our 

"Then I suppose these sound-waves, in other 
words the words one speaks, run out of the end 
of these wires into the atmosphere?" 

^'Exactly, sir," agreed Bob. "That is, the 
electrical waves are projected into the air and 
disturb this air in a way to make it pulsate in 
the same manner as your voice makes the dia- 
phragm pulsate. These waves are then carried 
through the atmosphere in every direction, and 
sooner or later reach the antennae wires of some 
station equipped to receive them. Down these 
wires they dash, are registered and magnified 
in the wonderfully delicate vacuum tube, and 
from it are carried up into the receivers at your 

"I should think they would be electrical im- 
pulses when they reach the receivers," argued 
Mr. Giddings. "How can a person hear tcords 
from electrical discharges?" 

Bob smiled. "Easy enough, dad," he went 
on. "You see, this vacuum tube does the busi- 


ness. The electrical current agitates this in uni- 
son, and the impulses are immediately converted 
into words again, — and there you are !'* 

"I acknowledge my understanding now," ad- 
mitted Mr. Giddings, with a hearty laugh; "but 
there's just one thing yet I want light on: 
Where do you get your electrical current? It 
takes a dynamo to make electricity, else storage 
batteries. I don't see either." 

"Come outside here a moment, dad." 

Bob smiled as he led the little party out of 
the Sky-Bird's cabin. When they once more 
stood on the hangar floor, he pointed to a pe- 
culiar T-shaped object just beneath the nose of 
the airplane. This had escaped the gentleman's 
observation until now. 

"It looks like a small propeller with a tor- 
pedo sticking out from the middle of it," laughed 
Mr. Giddings. 

"So it does, dad," agreed Bob. "Well, that s 
our wireless dynamo. You will notice that the 
propeller faces ahead, like the big fellow here. 
When the airplane is flying, the rush of wind 
spins the fan at a terrific rate, its axle operates 
a little dynamo in this torpedo-like case and 
manufactures electric current. The current then 
passes into this small apparatus here with a 
bulb attached, which regulates the voltage and 
sends it up to the instruments in a uniform flow. 


no matter at what speed the airplane may be go- 

^'That's a cheap way of getting current," de- 
clared the newspaper man, "and a mighty good 
one, too." He now changed the subject by ask- 
ing: "How much do you suppose this machine 

"I have been in smaller ones which weighed, 
unloaded, as much as three thousand pounds," 
admitted John Ross, with a peculiar smile. "Put 
your hands under the Sky-Bird's nose here and 
see if you can lift her, Mr. Giddings." 

"Don't joke that way, John," expostulated 
Mr. Giddings. "Why, her engines are right 
above this portion of her, and I couldn't lift 
one of them alone." 

"Just try it anyhow, dad," persisted Bob, who 
also wore that queer smile. 

More to accommodate them than because he 
expected to accomplish anything, the publisher 
half-heartedly braced himself in a crouching po- 
sition and pushed upward on the airplane's 
front. To his amazement the whole forward 
part of the machine rose upward a foot in the 
air, as if it were made of paper. 

"My word!" exclaimed Mr. Giddings, letting 
the craft back upon its wheels. "Who would 
have thought such a thing? I had faith in this 
principle of the hollow wings and helium-gas. 


boys, but I never thought it could reduce the 
normal weight of the plane to such a vast extent, 
It is truly a wonderful idea." 

"You might not believe it, but the Sky-Bird 
weighs less than two hundred pounds as she 
stands," said Paul. *Just before you came to- 
day, Mr. Giddings, Bob and I, one at each end, 
easily lifted her clear off the floor." 

"It's what we aimed for, and we've got it," 
added John with satisfaction, while Tom Meeks 
nodded his head and ejaculated, "I'd say so! 
I'd say so!" his whole broad face abeam. "This 
feather lightness means great lift, great speed, 
and great cruising range." 

"I should think so surely," was the decided 
response of the newspaper man. "I notice you 
have installed that ^automatic pilot' too. And 
what's that up here in front on top of the cabin? 
A searchlight, as I live!" 

"Yes, dad," said Bob; "we thought that would 
be a good thing in case we do any night travel- 
ing on this tour of the world. It ought to have 
good power, being operated with current from 
the storage batteries of the wireless wind-dy- 

After a little more inspection and further 
questions, Mr. Giddings took his departure, 
promising to be on hand at the hangar the fol- 
lowing morning for the test flight. 



JOHN, Paul, and Tom reached the fair- 
grounds a good full hour ahead of the 
scheduled start that Saturday morning. In 
fact, Mrs. Ross had given them an earlier break- 
fast than usual, so that they could give the Sky- 
Bird II a general going over before it came time 
for her to make her initial flight. 

Of course all three young men were a good 
deal excited, although they were careful not to 
let each other know it, for fear of being the tar- 
get for a little fun from the others. In this 
effort at reserve, the irrepressible Tom was the 
least successful of the trio, as might be expected, 
and when he caught John and Paul slyly wink- 
ing at each other and glancing in his direction 
as he nervously tried the same control for the 
third time, he blurted out: "Oh, you fellows 
needn't laugh at me! You're just as much on 
edge as I am, now that we're really going to fly 
this old bird!" 

"Come, Tom, don't try to cover up your ner- 
vousness by accusing us of the same thing," pro- 
tested Paul. 



"You're as agitated as a young kid with his 
first electric toy train, Tom," laughed John. 
"How much gasoline have we got in the tanks 

"The gauge shows ten gallons," said Tom, 
bending down and looking at the instrument- 
board in front of the pilot's seat. 

"That isn't enough for a decent flight," de- 
clared John. "We'll probably be out for at 
least an hour, and we may use as much as fif- 
teen gallons in that time; that's about half the 
consumption of ordinary airplanes, you know. 
We'll shove in twenty gallons more so as to be 
on the safe side." 

"We haven't put in any oil yet," reminded 
Tom. "We'd better put in about two gallons, 
I should say. Most planes use about a half- 
gallon to the hour; if we use half as much, that 
will give us plenty of grease." 

The tanks were in the lower part of the for- 
ward fuselage. With the caps removed, a hose 
was inserted by Paul, and then John forced the 
gasoline up by a small but powerful handpump 
until the gauge told that the required additional 
twenty gallons were in. The same pump would 
work with the oil also, and soon the viscid fluid 
had been transferred from the storage can on the 
hangar floor to its proper tank in the airplane. 
Thence it would feed itself up into the car- 


bureter of the working engine by a force-pump 
attached to the engine, as with the gasohne. 

The boys had just finished putting in the 
fuel when Mr. Giddings and Bob drove up in 
the former's automobile. 

"I expect this is a great day for you young 
men?" said the publisher, with a smile of greet- 
ing to all. "I know it is a time I have looked 
forward to myself for a good many months, — 
ever since I accepted the challenge of the 
Clarion, in fact. Is the Sky-Bird supplied with 

"Yes, sir," said John; *Ve just got through 
with that job. We have easily enough fuel 
aboard now for a couple of hours' flight, and 
that will be long enough for a first one. New 
engines are always * stiff ' and should not be run 
too long at a stretch." 

"Have you run this pair yet?" 

"Oh, yes," said Bob. "We have tried them 
out several times, dad, and in connection with 
the propeller, too. They work tip-top, either 
connected or disconnected. I tell you, when 
they're in connection they certainly do make this 
big propeller hum !" 

"I can't understand how you can operate the 
propeller in here," said Mr. Giddings, much 
puzzled. "All the airplanes I have seen have 
always dashed forward as soon as their pro- 


pellers began to revolve under impulse of the 
motor or motors ; there was no restraining them. 
I should think this machine would run through 
the front end of the hangar here as soon as 

"Pardon me, sir," interrupted John, "but we 
have gone those fellows one better. You forget 
that in the drawings we showed you there was a 
set of brakes designed to be worked by a con- 
trol within reach of the pilot, brakes which will 
engage these ground wheels a good deal the 
same as brakes work on automobiles — ^by a flex- 
ible band of steel and grit-filled cotton which is 
made to compress over a large sort of hub on the 
inner side of each wheel." 

"Very good," said Mr. Giddings; "but I un- 
derstand that has been tried before, with the re- 
sult that the airplane at once tipped forward 
and stuck its nose into the ground, or rather 
tried to, smashing its propeller to smithereens." 

"They will do that every time unless some- 
thing has been devised to counteract this ten- 
dency to pitch over," explained John. "We 
have devised the thing to prevent it, Mr. Gid- 

"See here, dad," put in Bob at this point. 
"Stoop down a bit and look under the forward 
end of the body here." 


His father did as requested, and Bob pointed 
out a circular opening about the size of a saucer, 
from which protruded the end of an aluminum- 
encased shaft bearing a small rubber-tired wheel 
of very sturdy proportions. 

"That is our preventer, dad," smiled his son. 

"In a few minutes we'll show you how it 
works," added John Ross. "I see you are wear- 
ing a cap, sir, as I suggested. That is all the 
special dress you will need, as our enclosed cabin 
makes helmets and close bundling unnecessary. 
We fellows will wear our regular working togs." 

Everything being in readiness, the four young 
men easily pushed the big airplane out of the 
building and to a place where it would have a 
smooth runway for a hundred yards ahead. The 
weather was ideal for the trip. There was little 
wind, and the few strato-cumulus clouds which 
were visible showed great stretches of azure-blue 
sky between them. 

"Everybody climb in," ordered Tom, with a 
wave of his hand. "I'll crank her up. You 
take the joy-stick, John." 

All hands complied. Then Tom began to turn 
the big burnished x^ropeller, just as John threw 
a lever from the inside which caused the auxil- 
iary ground wheel to shoot down and engage the 
sod. At the same time the movement of another 
lever by Paul set the airplane's brakes. 


Several times Tom turned the propeller 
around. Then, with a pop, the engine cylinders 
began to fire, Tom jumped swiftly back, and the 
propeller whirred like a mad thing. At the 
same time the Sky-Bird gave a start, as though 
to dash forward; but beyond a steady, slight 
vibration of her whole body, as Tom slowed 
down the motor to four hundred revolutions per 
minute, there was no indication to her inmates 
that she was straining to get away. Tom now 
quietly mounted the step, and came into the 
cabin, pulling the step up after him and closing 
the self -locking door. 

"That shows you how this third ground wheel 
acts, dad!" cried Bob triumphantly to his father, 
who sat in a chair adjoining. "Now watch the 
old girl jump ahead when Paul throws back the 
brake lever and his brother lifts the third wheel 
and gives her more gas!" 

The changes were made even as he spoke; the 
propeller's hum grew into a mild roar through 
the cabin walls> and the Sky-Bird leaped away 
over the ground, gaining momentum at every 
yard. To the surprise of even two such veteran 
flyers as John Ross and Tom Meeks, the air- 
plane had gone less than fifty yards when she 
began to rise as gracefully as a swallow in re- 
sponse to her up-turned ailerons and elevators. 
In less than ten seconds she was well up over the 


fair-grounds, and the roofs of all the buildings 
in the neighborhood were seen below them. 

John kept the machine mounting at a good 
angle until the altimeter showed them to be up 
two thousand feet. Then he straightened out 
the ailerons and elevators, and began to run on 
a level keel. The other inmates of the cabin 
noticed, by looking through the observation win- 
dows, that he was gradually bearing in a great 
circle about the town of Yonkers. Off to the 
northwestward were the rugged blue crags of 
the Catskills, covered with patches of milk-white 
snow, and just in front, winding like a huge ser- 
pent among the picturesque foothills, was the 
sparkling Hudson, dwindling away to a mere 
silver thread in the north, tapering away in the 
same manner toward the south, where it lapped 
the piers of the city of New York and imme- 
diately afterward lost itself in the waters of the 
Upper Bay. Although the great skyscrapers of 
the big city itself could be dimly seen, they 
looked very small at that distance. 

Directly below them our friends could make 
out the familiar buildings and landmarks of 
their own town as they swept past one by one, 
John purposely flying at reduced speed so that a 
clearer vision could be had. He also shot down 
to within a thousand feet, presently, as he saw 
his own home approaching. Someone, whom 


both John and Paul immediately recognized as 
their mother, stood in the door waving a hand- 
kerchief. In recognition, Paul drew down one 
of the sliding windows, and put out his head 
and fluttered his own handkerchief. Shortly 
afterward — it seemed not more than a minute — 
the machine was over Shadjniook Hill, and Bob 
and his father were waving a similar salute to 
Mrs. Giddings. 

As they swept on, men and women and chil- 
dren could be seen looking up from the streets 
beneath. Most of these people were used to 
seeing airplanes, but obviously the bright finish 
of the Sky-Bird II, and its striking eagle-like 
appearance created more than passing notice. 

Those in the cabin were amazed to note how 
eflfectually the new muffler and the walls of the 
cabin shut out the sounds of operation. It was 
very easy for them to talk back and forth with 
each other by using a fairly strong pitch of 
voice, even when the machine was running at a 
good rate, as it now began to do, for John once 
more gave the engine more gas, and turned the 
airplane skyward. Up, up they shot like a 
rocket. The hand on the dial of the altimeter 
moved along steadily — it reached 2 again, passed 
to 3, 4, 5, 6; the earth seemed literally to be 
falling away from them. All at once, when they 
were between six and seven thousand feet high. 


and watching the minute patches of color far 
below, which represented buildings, houses, hills, 
and the like, these objects were swept away, and 
through the glass plates of the cabin floor they 
could see nothing but a gray vapor below them. 
It was also around them. 

"We're passing up through a cloud," said 
Bob to his father, who had never been in an 
airplane before. A moment or two later, the 
boy added, as the blue sky could once more be 
seen below, "Xow we're above it, dad." 

"It seems to be getting colder," remarked 
Mr. Giddings. 

"It always gets colder the higher one goes," 
informed Paul. 

"I hope you're not getting cold feet, dad?" 
grinned Bob. 

"Oh, I'm comfortable, thank you," laughed 
his father. "Say, son, isn't this as good a time 
as any to try out the merits of that wireless 
'phone of yours? Can you work it from this 

"I don't know why I can't — and three times 
higher," Bob said; "we'll try it right now. When 
I left home I told Sis to mind the set there in 
my room, and watch for my signal. We'll see 
now if I can get in touch with her." 

So saying. Bob put on the wireless helmet, 
threw the switch, and kept repeating, "Hello, 


Sis! hello, Sis! hello, Sis!" for a few moments 
in the transmitter. Then he said, after a brief 
silence: "I get you, Betty. Won't answer you 
now, as I want dad to talk to you." 

With that Bob smiled, removed the headpiece, 
and slipped it over his father's head, exchanging 
seats with him. 

Mr. Giddings now heard a voice— the voice 
of his own daughter — asking quite distinctly: 
"Do you hear me, daddie?" 

"I certainly do, Betty," said he; "where are 

"Here at home — up in Robert's room. I 
never thought I'd be sometime talking with you 
when you were flying through the air. Mother 
just called upstairs and says she can't see the 
Sky-Bird any longer. Where are you now?" 

"Up above the clouds somewhere just north 
of Yonkers," replied Mr. Giddings laconically. 

"Oh, goodness! I must run right down and 
tell mother. Please don't go too high or too 
far, daddie, will you?" came the clearly agitated 
tones of the daughter. "Is Robert all right?" 

"Indeed he is. We'll soon be back with you 
and tell you all about it. Everything is work- 
ing perfectly. Good-bye, Betty!" 

And Mr. Giddings arose with a pleased laugh, 
and hung up the helmet. "I'll take off my hat 
to you, Robert," he said. "I never thought your 


fussing at home all these years with electric bat- 
teries, buzzers, and what not, would amount to 
anything like this." 

The Sky-Bird II was now running straight 
ahead with the speed of the wind, John giving 
the craft more and more gas, and crowding her 
pretty close to the limit. The wind swept by 
both sides of the streamlike cabin with a rushing 
sound like the distant roar of a huge cataract; 
the flexible window glass gave slightly to its 
pressure, but there was no sign of it breaking. 
One minute they were in the midst of a cumulus 
cloud; the next, through it. Now they saw the 
faint outline of the earth, now sky; now the 
earth was screened by cloud, but above were 
the blue heavens. 

"Guess how fast we're making it now?" cried 
John, one eye on the dial which connected with 
the propeller-shaft. 

"A hundred miles," ventured Mr. Giddings. 

"Hundred and thirty," guessed Paul and Bob. 

"Hundred and eighty," stated the more ex- 
perienced Tom. 

"All too low," said John. "We're going 
just exactly two hundred and fifty, if this speed- 
ometer doesn't lie!" 

He now announced that he was going to 
throw in the idle engine. This was done suc- 
cessfully, and under the extra power they were 


soon making the remarkable speed of three hun- 
dred miles an hour! John then slowed up and 
disconnected first one motor and then the other, 
the airplane continuing to fly with unimpaired 

As a last test, he dropped to a level of three 
thousand feet, at which time they were con- 
siderably north of Albany, and throwing the 
automatic-pilot into operation calmly removed 
his hands and feet from every control except 
the rudder. In this fashion they ran for fifteen 
or twenty miles on a perfectly even keel, the 
apparatus automatically working the elevators 
and ailerons of the craft as various wind cur- 
rents tended to disturb its equilibrium. At 
length, John gave a little twist to the rudder, 
and the way the Sky-Bird began to circle, and 
to bank of her own accord, was a splendid sight 
to behold. No hawk, sailing over a barnyard 
in quest of an unw^ary fowl, could have per- 
formed the trick more beautifully. 

As the flyers now headed for home they were 
all much elated at the success of the first flight 
of the new airplane. And as it gracefully 
swooped down into the fair-grounds a little later, 
coming to a stop in a surprisingly short run 
over the ground owing to her braking feature, 
this elation was increased. 



AFTER getting out of the airplane, Mr. 
Giddings was thoughtful for some min- 
*" utes. Nor did he speak until the boys 
had pushed the machine into the hangar. Then 
he said, with deep earnestness: 

"Young men, a great load has been removed 
from my mind by this recent performance of 
the Sky-Bird II. I have now not the slight- 
est doubts of her adaptability to make a round- 
the-world trip, and if she performs then as she 
did this morning, we are not only going to de- 
feat the Clarions crew, but we are going to 
smash all existing records for a journey of the 
kind. I wish to know if you really think you 
could operate this machine steadily night and 
day, say for a couple of weeks, stopping only 
for fuel and food?" 

"By alternating the engines — ^yes, sir; no 
doubt of it," declared John Ross without a mo- 
ment's hesitation, while Tom Meeks nodded his 
frowsy head energetically. 

"Then," said Mr. Giddings, "you may con- 



sider that's what the entire four of you will have 
to do in a few months, as soon as we can pick 
out a route and get fuel supplies at the different 
airports or stops for you. John, you and Tom 
may consider yourselves under salary right on 
until after this race ; there will be enough for you 
to do, helping me with arrangements and taking 
care of the airplane." 

"Well, but how about Paul and me, dad?" 
broke in Bob anxiously; "aren't we going to 
have anything to do?" 

"Oh, you two will have enough to do going 
to school, I think," laughed Mr. Giddings; "but, 
to satisfy you, I will let you both help John 
and Tom select a route and make out a schedule. 
Do this just as soon as you can, so that I may 
be able to give Mr. Wrenn, the publisher of 
the Clarion, a copy. He can then make intelli- 
gent preparations for his own crew. I am go- 
ing to give my rival every consideration in this 
matter, so that he cannot do any howling if we 
beat him. It must be an out-and-out fair race, 
do you understand?" 

All nodded. 

"Have you heard anything about the other 
crew yet, Mr. Giddings?" inquired Paul. "I 
mean, do you know what sort of a craft they 
are going to use, or who is going to fly against 


"I am as much in the dark about those points 
as you young men," was the reply. "I judge 
that Mr. Wrenn, who is an astute business man, 
will keep us in ignorance of his personnel until 
the last minute. The fact is, I am going to 
treat him to a dose of his own medicine in this 
respect. So be careful not to let the public get 
close to tliis machine, and talk with no one about 

With that the publisher and Bob drove home, 
but the latter came back in the afternoon, and 
all four young men immediately repaired to the 
Yonkers Public Library with a blank tablet, 
there to work out the route and schedule. 

It was no easy task. In the first place, they 
wished the route to be as close to the equator 
at all times as possible, so that their line of 
travel would approximate in distance the world's 
estimated circumference of 24,899 miles. In the 
second place, for stops they must choose cities 
or towns with either established landing-fields, or 
with grounds level enough for this purpose. In 
the third place, these airports must be so divided 
that they would not have to be visited during 
the hours of darkness, for few if any of them 
would be likely to have efficient enough lighting 
systems to make night landings safe. 

Within fifteen minutes the boys had the long 
table in front of them literally covered with 


geographies, atlases, loose maps, and encyclo- 
psedias. Paul even brought up a globe as large 
as a pumpkin, while Bob was not content until 
he had secured a score of back numbers of travel 
magazines. Into this divers collection of dia- 
grams and reading matter they dove with an 
avidity which would have surprised the teachers 
they had when they were in grammar school, if 
they could have seen them. It soon became evi- 
dent that they would not only need a route and 
schedule to make their journey successful, but 
also an enormous amount of general information 
about the countries they would pass over, 

"We'll have to study trade winds, oceanic 
storm conditions, temperatures, inhabitants, to- 
pography, and so forth, and so forth," drawled 
Tom Meeks. "Say, fellows, I feel like kicking 
myself to think I didn't study my geography 
more and shoot paper-wads less, when I was a 
kid at school." 

"We'll have to do a lot of cramming, that's 
sure," averred Jolm; "but we have several months 
for that. Just now we want to jmnp into this 
route and schedule." 

They made up several tentative routes, only to 
discard them. Finally, after several hours' 
work, they had one which everybody seemed to 
agree was the best that could be picked out. 
With the schedule, which was figured on the 


basis of 120 miles an hour airplane speed, the 
draft looked like this: 














































25 th 




Port Darwin 


















San Cristobal 










* Gain of 1 day by reason of crossing 180th MeridiaR, or Inter- 
national Date Line, between Port Darwin and Apia. 

Bob Giddings carried home a copy of this 
schedule, and the following Monday morning 
all four young men met by appointment in the 
private office of the publisher of the Daily Inde- 
pendent. After they were seated, Mr. Giddings 
brought forth the tentative draft, studied it a 
few moments, and then asked: 

"What is your fuel capacity, boys?" 

"Our tanks will hold enough gasoline and oil 


to carry us a little better than five thousand 
miles, throttled down to an average of one hun- 
dred and twenty miles an hour, the basis on 
which we figured out this schedule, sir," an- 
swered John. 

"Would it make a difference if you flew faster 
than that?" 

"Oh, yes," said John; "the faster a pilot flies 
the more fuel he uses per mile. Full out — that 
is, going at the limit of her speed — the Sky- 
Bird probably would not cover more than three- 
thousand miles." 

"I am glad to know this," said Mr. Giddings. 
"I see that your cruising radius is sufiicient to 
cover your longest jumps at any reasonable 
speed. Let me see; you allow yourselves three 
hours' stop at each airport; will that be long 

"Plenty, sir," said Tom; "we figure that we 
can easily refuel in that time, and attend to any 
local affairs we may have." 

"I notice your total mileage is exactly equal 
to the estimated circumference of the world," 
remarked the publisher. "That shows great care 
in the selection of this route to meet my view- 
point; but may I ask how you know your dis- 
tances between airports, as here recorded, are 
correct? From whence did you get these mile- 


"Bob and I figured them out, sir," spoke up 


"Why, like this, dad," explained Bob. "We 
knew there were 360 degrees to the world; we 
divided the circumference of 24,899 miles by 360, 
and obtained approximately 69.5 miles to a de- 
gree. By taking a map of the world and find- 
ing the number of degrees between any two air- 
ports it was not difficult to come pretty close 
to the actual distance in miles between them." 

"Very good; very good, indeed," approved his 
father. "I think I have the right sort of men 
on this job. But here is another thing which 
occurs to me: Have you based your time of ar- 
rival and leaving at each port upon local time 
or New York time?" 

"Local time," stated Paul. "If we had not 
done so we could not have arranged the schedule 
with any accuracy at all, as regards daylight and 
darkness and the lapping of time. With our 
watches set to New York time, we might expect 
to land at a station in broad daylight, only to 
find that we were really coming in after dark. 
Another thing: Our figuring showed us that 
the lappages of time, all added together, exactly 
totaled one day of twenty-four hours, which we 
gain by traveling eastward. So, while the sched- 
ule on a calendar at home would only show ten 



days which we would be gone, we would in re- 
ality be away one day longer, or eleven." 

"Your local times may be wrong," hinted Mr. 

"I don't think so, sir; we proved them cor* 
rect," stated Paul, with conviction. 


"After the same method we used in getting 
the mileage, sir. You see, we knew that time 
eastward keeps getting later, and that this rate 
is four minutes to every degree. We just 
counted the degrees between places and figured 
it out on that basis." 

"Splendid!" exclaimed Mr. Giddings, who 
was far from as ignorant of these processes 
as he led his visitors to suppose. "Boys, I wish 
to compliment you very highly upon this piece 
of work. When I first looked at the schedule 
and saw that an airplane meeting its require- 
ments would make this trip squarely around the 
world in seven and a half hours less than ten 
days I could scarcely credit my senses, and I 
figured it all over to make sure you had made 
no mistake. I found out you had not. If you 
can maintain an average speed of one hundred 
and twenty miles, and can make up any unfore- 
seen delays by greater speed, I must admit it 
really looks possible for you to be back inside 
of ten days. That is better than I actually 


hoped for, young men, — far better! In fact 
the situation, as I view it, contains wonderful 
opportunities for both newspapers in the way of 
sales and advertising. I do not doubt but that 
I can handle this affair in such a manner that I 
can afford to give each of you five thousand 
dollars if you make the journey within these 
ten days." 

**Five thousand dollars!" cried our friends in 
unison, while Bob exploded: "But, dad, just how 
do you figure this out?" 

"Mr. Wrenn and I will exploit this contest 
in our newspapers — ^let the whole universe know 
that it is coming off; advise the people that the 
aviators are to be provided with the most modern 
airplanes, and equipped with wireless by means 
of which they will keep us informed frequently 
of their whereabouts; that they will have cam- 
eras and send us pictures; that these bulletins 
shall be issued in extra editions of our news- 
papers at least three or four times a day; and to 
cap the climax, we will put up large bulletin 
boards in front of our buildings, on which there 
will be painted a chart of the trip, showing every 
scheduled stop, country, and ocean crossed. This 
will be electrically lighted at night, and as you 
boys fly in your machine away off in some dis- 
tant part of the world, our bulletin board oper- 
ators will follow your course on their huge 


charts, and represent you with a miniature air- 
plane. In fact, I plan to get the Clarion to 
'phone over reports of their crew as fast as re- 
ceived, I doing likewise with them, and then we 
can have two dummy airplanes on each of our 
boards, showing the race in earnest at all stages 
of the journey. This would cause great excite- 
ment to the street onlookers. All in all, it would 
make our newspapers the most talked about in 
the whole country, we would gain thousands of 
new subscribers, millions of extras would be sold, 
thousands of dollars' worth of new advertising 
contracts could be made, and our present rates 
increased on account of our new prestige. Now, 
you see, it will be up to you young men to keep 
our office supplied with your whereabouts as 
often as you can. Do that, and beat our rival 
crew, and I shall be pretty well satisfied if you 
don't quite make the trip in ten days." 

"We will do our part, sir," responded John, 
speaking for all. 

There was a little further talk; and then they 
took their leave, well satisfied with the turn of 
events, and each determined to win his five thou- 
sand dollar trophy if it were at all possible. 



THAT same afternoon Mr. Giddings 
called upon his business rival, Mr. 
Wrenn, of the Clarion, and presented to 
him the tentative program for the great race 
around the world's girdle, as the Daily Indepen- 
dent had planned it. Mr. Wrenn declared that 
he was willing to stand by his former agreement 
to allow the Independent to select the route, and 
said it was entirely satisfactory to him, and that 
he would at once take steps to have fuel sup- 
plies on hand at the various airports for his crew 
when they should arrive. He made no com- 
ments as to his own airplane, but agreed that 
the advertising plan his caller had worked out 
was a capital one, stating that he would co- 
operate heartily with him in carrying it to a 
successful conclusion. 

Mr. Giddings was considerably surprised that 
Mr. Wrenn made no objection to the longest 
"hops" on the route, which were of greater ex- 
tent than the average airplane could make, and 
was ready to modify the arrangement if there 



had been any objection. But even when he par- 
ticularly called this matter to the other pub- 
lisher's attention, Mr. Wrenn only smiled serene- 
ly? saying, "Those hops are perfectly satisfactory 
to us," leaving Mr. Giddings with a deep won- 
derment as to what sort of aircraft the Clarion 
proposed using. 

"I am under the impression that our con- 
temporary has something up his sleeve, but I 
cannot conceive what it can be," Mr. Giddings 
confided to his son that evening upon reaching 
home; and when Bob repeated this to the Ross 
Iboys and Tom Meeks next day, they too began 
to wonder more than ever what type of an air- 
plane the Clarion proposed using against them, 
and who the crew might be. 

"Did your father and Mr. Wrenn decide upon 
a date for the start?" asked Paul. 

"Yes," repHed Bob; "they made it the 20tK 
of July, this summer, weather permitting. We 
start from Panama at one o'clock in the after- 

"Our curiosity as to the identity of our com- 
petitors will be satisfied then, at least," laughed 

"And their curiosity, too!" put in Tom. "I'll 
Stake my last cent they're just as much in the 
dark about us and the Sky-Bird II as we are 
about their outfit." 


"We'll hope so, anyhow," remarked Bob; "but 
ever since we had those blue-prints stolen, and 
found we had a stranger sneaking around the 
hangar, I've been uneasy." 

At this reference, all the young men felt a 
strange oppression. They had talked over it 
more than once, and each time it had left them 
with a sense of peril to their interests, why 
they could not tell. As before, they now tried 
to laugh it off, and began to talk about other 

There was still considerable to do in the way 
of preparing the Sky-Bird and themselves for 
the long trip, and for weeks all four boys were 
kept hustling to make the final installations of 
accessories and equipment. Bob rigged up a 
wireless telegraph in connection with his tele- 
phone set, and for protection, four good repeat- 
ing rifles and an automxatic shotgun were put 
in racks in the after-cabin, while each fellow 
provided himself with an automatic revolver 
which he would carry in a holster attached to a 
belt. Medium-weight flying suits, with a heavy, 
wool-lined coat to slip on in case they flew very 
high, and trim flying boots and soft gloves, made 
up the personal toggery. 

Whenever the boys found a chance they went 
to the public library and absorbed all the knowl- 
edge they could about the countries over which 


they would pass and the places at which they 
were destined to stop. By writing to the au- 
thorities in these localities, Mr. Giddings also 
secured much valuable information for them as 
to present weather conditions and landing-fields 
— information which was further supplemented 
by numerous special airway maps supplied by 
the Aero Club of America and similar aviation 
organizations in foreign countries. From these 
maps Paul worked out a very clear chart of 
their own course from beginning to end. A 
copy was given to each of the newspaper pub- 
lishers concerned, to reproduce on their large 
electric street boards, and another was framed 
and placed immediately in front of the pilot's 
seat in the cabin of the Sky-Bird II. 

All this time the columns of the Daily Inde- 
pendent and the Clarion contained frequent vivid 
references to features of the trip calculated to 
awaken the interest of the public, and as the time 
slipped along into July, the attention of people 
all over the land was centered upon the forth- 
coming contest, and it became the principal sub- 
ject for comment. The secrecy maintained by 
both principals as to the kind of aircraft to be 
used, and the mystery as to identity of the mem- 
bers of the respective crews, only whetted curios- 
ity and interest the more, as the sharp newspaper 
men knew it would. Every man, woman, and 


child in the wide world seemed to be eagerly wait- 
ing for the moment to come when he or she would 
see the promised pictures of the bold aviators 
and their machines in the big newspapers, and 
hear that they had made their first jump east- 
ward from Panama. 

All being in readiness, at daybreak on the 
morning of July 16th the Ross boys and Tom 
Meeks appeared at the Sky-Bird's hangar, and 
pushed the airplane outside. As they were do- 
ing so, Mr. Giddings and Bob joined them. 
The publisher had planned to accompany his 
crew to Panama in the machine, to see them 
oflBcially off, while his reporters made the jour- 
ney by train, in company with the writing force 
of the rival paper. 

* 'We'll keep the time of our going secret, leav- 
ing before people are generally up," Mr. Gid- 
dings had said to the boys ; "and by going on the 
16th we'll not only be ahead of their smart cal- 
culations, but we shall have about half a week to 
rest up and see the country down there before 
you begin your strenuous journey. I need a 
little vacation anyway, so I will accompany you. 
We will stop off at Miami on the way, and en- 
joy some big-game fishing in the Florida waters 
with some of my friends." 

So the young men were very much excited and 
eager to be oflf this morning of the 16th, you 


may be sure. The Sky-Bird was tuned up a 
little to make certain she was in first-class con- 
dition, then they all climbed in and the big glis- 
tening creature of wood, metal, and silk shot 
up into the air. It would probably be close to 
three weeks before they would see that familiar 
field and hangar again, and in that time if all 
went well they would circle the huge globe upon 
which they and their fellow-men lived. It was 
truly a most inspiring thought — one to have 
filled less phlegmatic blood than theirs with the 
wildest pulsations! 

The weather was not at all promising, masses 
of gray nimbus-cloud threatening to shut out 
the sun as it arose, with a promise of uncertain 
winds, if not rain; but John and Tom declared 
the conditions all the better for giving the ma- 
chine a good test-out. 

They climbed slowly upward through the 
cheerless, mist-laden skies, the engine well throt- 
tled back and running as smoothly as any en- 
gine could. To make sure that all was in per- 
fect working order, they circled for ten minutes 
over the town, trying the different controls, then 
turned the Sky-Bird southward. 

At two thousand feet they suddenly emerged 
from the fog belt into brilliant sunshine, but the 
world below was lost to sight, screened by a 
dense pall of mist. Accordingly, Tom Meeks, 


who was acting as pilot, set a compass course for 
Cape Hatteras, the first guide-post along the 
Atlantic coast, some five hundred miles distant. 
After an hour's steady running, John took the 
throttle, followed later by Bob, and finally Paul. 
It was a new sensation to the last-named youths 
to be piloting the airplane out of view of the 
earth's surface, relying solely for safety and 
position upon the compass and altimeter, and 
knowing that somewhere far below them swept 
the rolling billows of the ocean; but they en- 
joyed it immensely. 

Finally, just as John declared they ought to 
be close to their objective, the winds freshened 
and made a great rift in the fog below them, 
through which they could plainly see the grand 
old Carolina coast-line a little way ahead and to 
their right. Between the main shore and the 
long spine-like series of reefs constituting the 
cape itself, sparkled the waters of numerous 
sounds, while the weather-beaten lighthouse on 
the extreme elbow of Hatteras stood out like a 
stick of white chalk against the rocky gray 
background of its support. 

All were delighted with the accuracy with 
which they had made their first guide-post, as 
John and Mr. Giddings checked their bearings 
on the chart. The Sky-Bird had behaved splen- 
didly so far, and if she continued in that way 


they ought to reach their destination well before 
nightfall, even at the reduced speed at which 
they had been flying, wliich had averaged not 
much more than a hundred miles an hour. 

It now became a question whether they should 
leisurely follow along the inwardly curving 
coast-line, taking in Savannah, Charleston, and 
Jacksonville, as guide-posts, or save a hundred 
miles or more by flying straight across the wa- 
ters to JVIiami. As they wished to test out each 
member's ability to operate by compass rather 
than by landmarks, it was decided to take the 
shorter route. So gradually they left the rugged 
American shore behind and swept farther and 
farther out to sea. 

The Sky-Bird II was flying as steady as a 
rock. All the bracing wires were tuned to a 
nicety, the wind humming through them and 
along the smooth sides of the great creature's 
body with a whistling monotone which arose 
and fell with bewitching rhythm as the force 
fluctuated. The varnish and fire-proofing com- 
pound glistened brightly in the sunshine, attract- 
ing the attention of numerous seabirds, mostly 
gulls and ospre^^s, which followed them at times 
for short distances, only to be outdistanced. 
The engine was running at less than half its 
possible speed, and purring like a contented 
kitten after a meal of fresh milk. The clouds 


and fog had cleared away; the sky was as bright 
now as a sky ever gets; far beneath, the blue- 
green waters of the Atlantic, flecked with white- 
topped waves, spread on all sides. Two torpedo- 
'boats, looking like toys, went northward, and 
tiny white waving specks showed that the Jacks 
aboard were waving a salute to them. Off sea- 
ward a black trailing blot against the horizon 
showed where some unseen steamship plowed her 
way between ports. Mr. Giddings and the boys 
were filled with admiration. 

A small airplane is ideal for short flights, joy- 
riding the heavens, or sight-seeing among the 
clouds; but there is something more majestic 
and stable about a big machine like the Sky-Bird 
II which a pilot soon begins to love with a pas- 
sion he never feels toward the little 'plane. An 
exquisite community of spirit grows up between 
machine and pilot; each, as it were, merges into 
the vitals of the other. The levers and controls 
are the nervous system of the airplane, through 
which the will of the aviator may be expressed 
— expressed in an infinitely fine degree. Indeed, 
a flymg-machine is something entirely apart 
from and above all other contrivances of man's 
ingenuity. It is the nearest thing to animate 
life which man has created. In the air an air- 
plane ceases to be a mere piece of dumb mechan- 
ism; it seems to throb with feeling, and is cap- 


able not only of primary guidance and con- 
trol, but actually of expressing a pilot's tempera- 

The lungs of the machine — ^its engines — are 
the crux of man's mechanical wisdom and skill. 
Their marvelous reliability and intricacy are al- 
most as awesome as the human anatomy. When 
both engines are going well, and synchronized to 
the same speed, the roar of the exhausts develops 
into one long-sustained and not inharmonious 
hoom-m-m-m-m! It is a song of pleasant 
melody to the pilot, whose ear is ever pricked to 
catch the first semblance of a "sharp" or "flat" 
note telling him that one or more of the twelve 
cylinders of each busy engine is missing fire and 
needs a little doctoring. 

It was about four o'clock that afternoon when 
our party first sighted the low, out- jutting sea- 
coast of Florida. As they came slowly toward 
it, by reason of their angular course of approach, 
they could gradually make out a group of green 
palms here and there along the white stretches of 
sand, and see clusters of light-colored buildings, 
piers, shipping, and people moving about. Thus 
they passed Juno and Palm Beach, and then saw 
the thicker cluster of fine dwelHngs of Miami 
itself, the most southerly city on the Florida 

Paul was guiding the Sky-Bird at this time. 


and turned her across the limpid waters of Bis- 
cayne Bay, cutting a huge circle above the town 
and slowly swooping downward toward the 
broad white beach, as he picked out a level 
stretch for landing. Townspeople who had been 
watching the strange airplane, so much like a 
great bird, now ran forward to see it land. 

A moment later, with a graceful drop and up- 
ward curve, it struck the sandy beach and ran 
forward lightly until the brakes were applied 
and it was brought to a standstill. 



MANY questions were asked our friends 
by the onlookers, but they gave them 
evasive replies, being careful to let out 
no hint as to their real identity and connection 
with the approaching race around the world. 
Two husky negroes were engaged to watch the 
airplane until relieved from such responsibility, 
and Mr. Giddings then led the boys to the home 
of a Mr. Choate, a close and trusted friend and 
superintendent of the big Miami Aquarium, one 
of the most noted repositories for live fish in the 

Mr. Choate was astonished beyond measure 
when he learned that his old friend had come in 
the big airplane which he and his wife had 
noticed over the town a short time before, and 
was still further surprised when Mr. Giddings 
bound him to secrecy and told him that the 
young men with him constituted the crew of one 
of the two airplanes which was so soon to circle 
the earth by way of the equator. He shook 
hands warmly with them, and with his charm- 
ing wife made them all very much at home. 



Than Mr. Choate, no man in the South knew 
more about the multitudinous varieties of fish in- 
habiting Florida waters. He was not only an 
authority on them, but he was also recognized 
as a most skillful catcher of fish. For over an 
hour that evening he told them absorbing stories 
of the habits of Gulf Stream denizens, and re- 
cited stirring tales of battles with some of the 
biggest of them. And when he finally an- 
nounced, "To-morrow I shall see that you are 
given a taste of our wonderful fish-life by join- 
ing me in a fishing expedition," they could 
hardly get to sleep for thinking of the fine pros- 

After breakfast the next morning, their host 
conducted them down to the waterside and into 
the beautiful white concrete buildings of the 
aquarium, and here he proceeded to show them, 
swimming about in great glass tanks, the most 
wonderful collection of fish they had ever seen 
outside of the big New York aquarium itself. 

"You probably never realized before," said 
Mr. Choate, "that in the warm waters of the 
Gulf Stream, between Miami and Key West, 
more than 600 varieties of fish are to be found. 
They vary in size all the way from the tiny sea- 
horse, the size of a baby's little finger, to the 
great tarpon and killer-whale, the latter a vicious 
creature weighing many tons and large enough 


to swallow a good-sized boy without scraping 
the buttons off his jacket." 

"It must be a lot of sport to catch some of 
these fairly big fish," remarked John Ross. 

"Well, this afternoon I shall take you fellows 
where you can all have a chance at them," said 
Mr. Choate with a smile. "It would be interest- 
ing to have a motion-picture record of the 
thoughts which flash through the mind of the 
average inland fisherman the first time he feels 
the tiger-like swoop of a five-foot barrancuda, 
the fierce yank of a hundred-pound amber- jack, 
or the sullen surge of a big grouper on his line ; 
for even when armed with the heaviest rod, and 
a line as big around as a silver dollar, he is pretty 
sure to wish, at least subconsciously, that his 
tackle might be twice as formidable and his arm 
twice as strong. Just imagine yourself, for in- 
stance, out in the clear blue waters of the Gulf 
Stream, looking overboard at your baited hook 
thirty feet below, which you can see as plainly 
as if it were in no water at all. Then up comes 
a great jewfish, which is just as likely to weigh 
five hundred pounds as fifty, and to be as large as 
a good-sized Shetland pony, and he makes a 
lunge for your bait, and — Well, you can go 
right on imagining the rest, too." 

In all, they visited a half -hundred tanks of 
fish before they were through, watching this 


group and that group of inmates disporting 
themselves about in the salty water with ap- 
parent unconcern of visitors. In markings some 
of them rivaled the most beautiful designs the 
mind could picture, and others were so brilliant 
and wonderful in color that the rainbow was 
mild in comparison. 

From the aquarium our party went up the 
beach to where the Sky-Bird II was resting 
under guard, and putting two new negroes to 
the task, they returned and had lunch with Mr. 
Choate, following which he conducted them down 
to the pier and aboard his sea-going motor-yacht, 
U Apache. This trim vessel had a crew of five 
men, and as she started away, headed for the 
Bahama Islands, a 25-foot motor-driven tender 
bobbed along in her wake. In this they were to 
do most of their fishing, their host declared. 

Assisted by the northeastward pressure of the 
Gulf Stream, they made splendid progress, and 
that evening cast anchor behind Bimini, a tiny 
isle which rests like a jeweled feather on a sum- 
mer sea. It was like pulling teeth to go below 
deck for sleep and leave the wondrous beauty 
of the tropical night, with the soft, cool touch 
of the ever-blowing trade wind, the shadowy 
grace of the giant coconut-palms swaying and 
whispering on the nearby beach in the moon- 
light, while the surf, lapping upon the coral reef 


on the outer side of the isle, lulled them with its 
crooning obligato. 

At sunrise all hands were up and ready for 
the sport. A hot breakfast was served by the 
cook, after which they piled aboard the motor- 
tender, throwing in rods, lines, and harpoons. 

Through the island channel out to the open 
sea they went, all except the steersman hanging 
over the side of the craft and enjoying the 
amazing sights in the clear depths below. Bob 
excitedly pointed out a group of six or eight 
big tarpon lazily wallowing about fifty feet 
beneath them. And less than two minutes after- 
ward, Paul, in no less excitement, announced 
the discovery on his side of a big nurse-shark 
which was rolling an eye at him from the ocean's 
floor. John pointed out, from the bow, a great 
school of fish numbering possibly ten thousand, 
which Mr. Choate stated were small mangrove- 
snappers. They were parading up and down a 
stretch of coral shelf along the bottom, and they 
made a wild dash and hid in crannies under the 
coral as a big barracuda unexpectedly shot in- 
to their midst and grabbed one unlucky snapper. 

In a little while the fishermen were out into 
the open sea, and all began to scan the pulsat- 
ing bosom of the Gulf Stream with fresh in- 
terest. Strange as it may seem, the fish of 
tropical waters do not appear to have the 


slightest apprehension of danger from the noise 
of a motor-boat, and one cannot only get very 
close to them, but can follow them about and 
observe their movements without trouble, par- 
ticularly if he is familiar with their habits. 

In a little while Mr. Giddings called the at- 
tention of all to a dark shadow not far below the 
surface, about two boat-lengths on the quarter. 
Mr. Choate promptly announced this to be a 
"herring-hog," a species of porpoise, and ordered 
the boat turned that way. 

The creature proved to be a full-grown her- 
ring-hog, weighing around four hundred pounds, 
and as this species destroys great numbers of 
foodfish, ]Mr. Choate made preparations to at- 
tack it. Reaching the proper position, a hand 
harpoon was thrown by him. It found its 
mark, and away went the great fish at so fast 
a clip that the line fairly smoked as it shot from 
the reel barrel. In a few moments it was all out, 
and then the motor-boat gave a jump forward 
and rushed after the herring-hog. He was tow- 
ing it, as if it had been a chip ! 

The engineer now reversed the propeller. 
This act slowed up the herring-hog noticeably, 
but still his prodigious strength carried the craft 
forward. It was ten minutes or more before he 
tired sufficiently for them to haul him in. 

As they were making the big fish fast to the 


gunwale, a considerable disturbance was ob- 
served on the surface of the water about a 
quarter of a mile away. Mr. Choate judged this 
fuss to be caused either by a leopard-shark kill- 
ing its pre}^ or by some battle royal between two 
equally big denizens of the deep. 

Mr. Giddings and the boys were all excited at 
the thought of getting a harpoon into a huge 
leopard-shark, v/hich will fight any and every- 
thing that swims, as well as manj^ things of 
flesh which do not swim, not excepting man him- 

But as the boat drew closer, Mr. Choate, who 
seemed to have uncanny eyesight plus long ex- 
perience with subsea life, added greatly to the 
nervousness of his guests by suddenly exclaim- 
ing: "Stand by, men; it's the biggest devil-fish 
I have ever seen!" 

At once everybody who could find one, seized 
a harpoon; and in his excitement Tom Meeks 
even picked up an oar, as if to defend himself 
against attack 1 

In a few minutes they were close enough to 
note that the entire bottom of the ocean in the 
area where the creature had been seen had gone 
suddenly dark; and in the translucent depths 
above nearly all of the party discerned a gigan- 
tic shadow moving along. It looked for all the 
world like an immense pancake with bat-like 




wings. THese wings were fluttering queerly, 
and from the action of the fish Mr. Choate said 
he was sure it was devouring prey which it had 
just killed. He now asked Paul if he would 
like to try a cast. The boy assented eagerly. 
Bracing his feet in the bottom of the motor-boat 
he took good aim and let his harpoon fly. 

Paul had hardly hoped to hit the devil-fish. 
!And probably he would not have done so, inex- 
experienced as he was with a harpoon, except for 
the fact that the creature was of unusual size and 
presented a broad mark. As it chanced, the steel 
went true. The devil-fish arose to the surface 
as though hurled upward by a submarine ex- 
plosion. One of its great battle-like fins broke 
above the water, sending gallons of spray over 
the occupants of the boat, and splintering the 
harpoon staff against the boat's side as if it had 
been a match stem; then its ten-foot pectoral 
wing struck the water with a terrific impact, 
making a noise which could have been heard 
several miles away. 

For a moment the monster seemed bewildered, 
and that moment eost it dear, for it enabled Bob 
to throw another harpoon, which stuck deep 
into its body near the spine. With a mad dash 
it started off to sea, taldng the harpoon lines with 
it. As the lines sped out of their barrels Mr. 
Choate grasped one and Mr. Giddings the other. 


aided respectively by John and Tom, and all 
hands strained to hold them, but although they 
went out slowly, they could not be held, until 
at length Paul and Bob came to the rescue and 
managed to get the ends around cleats in the 

However, this did not stop the devil-fish. It 
made out to sea with remarkable speed for so 
clumsy-looking a monster, towing the heavy boat 
and its inmates after it with the ease of a horse 
pulling a toy carriage! As it went, all hands 
bore on the lines, adding to its burden, but for 
a long time this seemed to have little or no 

Every once in a while the devil-fish would 
literally hurl itself several feet out of the water, 
and its huge flat body would come down with 
a crack like the explosion of a gun shell. Per- 
haps it was imagination, but each time it broke 
the surface in one of these cavortings it seemed 
to the boys that the fish was bigger than the 
last time. 

Now and then the creature would sound for 
deep water, in an effort to shake its captors off, 
and several times it went down so far that Mr. 
Choate stood ready with upraised hatchet to cut 
the lines at the last moment, in the event the 
bow should show signs of diving under. 

All of a sudden the lines slackened;, and all 


Kands frantically hauled in slack, as the devil- 
fish turned and dashed toward the boat. He 
came up almost under the craft, one great wing 
actually lifting one side of the heavy launch well 
out of the water and giving everybody a pretty 
stiff scare. 

With quick presence of mind, Mr. Choate at 
this moment let drive another harpoon, which 
found lodgment in the monster's flat head, and 
away it dashed again with the greatest vigor. 
As there was now a line leading to each side 
of the devil-fish's body, those in the motor-boat 
found they were able actually to drive their cap- 
tive as if it were a runaway horse, a gradual 
bearing on one "rein" or the other tending to di- 
rect the uncertain creature in that direction. 
Thus very adroitly they swerved the huge fish 
toward the now distant shore of Bimini, hoping 
to master it in the shallower waters of the isle. 

By this time the monster had carried them 
out fully ten miles. It had not forgotten its 
old tactics of deep diving either, and there were 
numerous occasions when, after one of these sub- 
mersions, it came up and started fiercely toward 
the boat, and it took the most skillful maneuver- 
ing on the part of the steersman, as well as 
wicked use of oars on the part of those in the 
craft, to drive the creature off and keep from 
being upset. 


They let their anchor drag, and at times 
reversed the propeller, hauling on this side and 
that on the the harpoon lines when the devil-fish 
would not be going to suit them. In this fashion it 
was slowly but surely tired out; they began to reel 
in slack line, and finally the immense fish was 
wallowing within twenty feet of the boat, sur- 
rounded by hungry sharks which had been at- 
tracted by its blood. It would never do to goad 
it now by hauling in on the lines, as it might 
dart under the boat and upset it, and the wait- 
ing sharks could then make a meal of its luck- 
less inmates. So Mr, Choate told the boys to 
use their automatic revolvers and see if they 
could not dispatch the devil-fish at once. This 
was done, John, Tom, Paul, and Bob all firing 
several shots each, which put the monster in such 
a helpless state that they could handle it with 
less danger to themselves. 

Until that moment not one of them realized 
that nearly five hours had elapsed since they 
first attacked this Jumbo of the sea, so busy had 
they been every moment of the time in trying 
to conquer the creature. And everybody was 
quite exhausted, now that the excitement was 

Although this fish had three harpoons in his 
body and a dozen shots in its head and heart, 
it was by no means dead, and the fishermen 


found considerable difficulty in towing it into the 
harbor, some miles away. 

The natives of Bimini were greatly interested 
in the capture, and our friends were able to get 
fifteen of them to help draw the enormous car- 
cass ashore where all could get a good look at it. 
They were amazed at the unusual size of the 
devil-fish, and Mr. Choate declared again that 
he had never seen such a large one of its kind. 
It measured twenty-two feet across, and must 
have weighed close to 5,000 pounds. 

*'Some people call the octopus a devil-fish," 
said Mr. Choate. "This is all wrong. They are 
both large and vicious creatures, but entirely 
different in looks. The devil-fish belongs to 
the ray family, and, as you see, is a huge bat- 
like creature which uses its body fins with a 
waving, undulating motion, and propels itself 
through the water at remarkable speed." 

"It is built on the principle of our airplane — 
in looks," said Tom with a grin; "and in speed, 

"So it is," responded Mr. Choate. "It de- 
rives its Satanic name from these cephalic fins 
or lobes which extend outward and upward from 
€ach side of its flat head, like curling horns. 
When it dashes into a school of smaller fish, these 
fins whirl about in every direction, and as they 
are often four feet long they easily reach more 


than one hapless fish and he is swept into the 
yardwide mouth of the monster and devoured 
with ahnost hghtning speed." 

After a rest, the party went out in the motor- 
boat again, this time to catch foodfish. They 
had fine luck, and after an appetizing meal 
aboard the L' Apache, in which their small catch 
played an important part, all set out for Miami, 
tired and happy. 



TCE first thing the boys did the following 
morning, after spending the night at 
the home of Mr. Choate, was to go down 
to the beach and see if their airplane was all 
right. They found one of the two negroes 
asleep, but the other fellow was faithfully on 
guard, and everything about the Sky-Bird 
seemed just as they had left it, although the 
watchers said that a considerable number of curi- 
ous townspeople had come to look at the machine 
the day before and they had been very busy 
keeping venturesome boys off the craft. 

Our friends let the negroes go to get their 
breakfasts and some sleep, and engaged two 
others to take up the watch. Following this, 
in company with Mr. Choate, they all retired 
to the bathhouse, secured bathing suits and had 
a fine time disporting themselves in the warm 
surf for the next hour. The youths had never 
experienced Gulf Stream bathing before, and 



the water was so enticing that it was hard to 
drag themselves out of it. 

As they were in the act of emerging to dress 
themselves, a black speck, which all had noticed 
in the northern sky, had developed by nearer 
approach so that they thought they could recog- 
nize it as an airplane. It was coming down the 
coast very rapidly. Wondering if its pilot in- 
tended to land in the vicinity, they gathered on 
the beach and curiously waited for it to come 

At times they were puzzled to know whether 
the approaching object were really an airplane 
or a great bird, for it surely looked like a bird 
with its swelling breast-line and slightly tilted 
broad-shouldered wings. Closer and closer it 
came. It was flying very high. 

When it was almost over them, INIr. Giddings 
uttered a startled ejaculation: "My stars, boys! 
It's our machine!" 

Paul and John Ross and Tom Meeks were 
equally astonished. They had noticed the strong 
resemblance at the same moment. Involun- 
tarily, with Mr. Giddings and Mr. Choate, they 
turned their heads up the beach to see if the 
Sky-Bird II was where they had left it. 

They saw its huge outline and its patrolling 
black guards. It had not changed position. 
Even a group of gaping Miami citizens lent 


reality to the situation, and some of the latter 
were gazing aloft at the other flying-machine, 
as our friends had been doing. 

The stranger above them evidently had no in- 
tention of stopping. Instead of circling the 
town, as he would have done had he intended to 
land, he swept straight over and kept on 
his southward course, heading across Florida 

On the face of every one of our friends, as 
they saw this image of the Sky-Bird II cross 
the sky overhead and disappear in the mists 
beyond, was a look of amazement, incredulity, 
and finally dark suspicion. 

"Can it be—?" Mr. Giddings hesitated, and 
looked inquiringly at his younger companions. 

"It looks that way," said John Ross, with a 
reluctant nod. 

None needed to explain that the same thought 
had struck him, also. The stolen blue-prints — 
the skulking man with the swarthy face! He 
had duplicated the Sky-Bird 1 

More than that, each recalled the Clarion's 
secrecy about the kind of airplane it planned to 
use ; and its willingness to attempt the long "hops" 
which ordinary machines would have had diffi- 
culty in negotiating. It all pointed to but one 
logical meaning. And Bob Giddings expressed 
the opinion of all when he observed: 


"Dad, I believe there goes our prospective 
competitor in the race around the world 1 He's 
making for Panama now!" 

Further comment on the situation would have 
been useless. All hands, each with disturbing 
thoughts of his own, went silently into the bath- 
house and resumed his regular garb. 

Mr. Choate and his wife begged them so 
hard to remain over another day at least that 
Mr. Giddings assented. That afternoon they 
went for a long automobile ride along improved 
roads, both sides of which were lined with 
palms in places, luxuriant tropical grasses in 
others, and towering forests covered with creep- 
ing vines. They stopped the car a number of 
times to visit great orange groves, and the boys 
had their first taste of the luscious fruit just 
as it ripened on the trees. 

The following morning, directly after break- 
fast, they were besieged by two or three local 
newspaper reporters. Seeing no use of further 
concealing their identity, Mr. Giddings gave 
out a little information to the gleeful news- 
paper men, but was careful to wire in to his own 
newspaper much more detail of their doings 
since leaving Yonkers, even mailing some photo- 
graphs which they had taken of the tussle with 
the big devil-fish. 

In the afternoon our party paid a visit to 


the aquarium again, extending it to the Biologi- 
cal Laboratory nearby; and took supper in the 
beautiful white casino, which fronts the beach, 
after they had had a refreshing plunge in the 
ocean's waters. Then Paul and Bob took up Mr. 
and Mrs. Choate for a short flight in the air- 
plane. \ 

Early the next morning they bade their 
Miami friends good-bye, and once more took 
to the air, this time to complete the last leg of 
.their journey to Panama. It was found that 
the Sky-Bird's fuel tanks were apparently still 
full enough to carry them to their destination, 
so it had not been necessary to store either gaso- 
line or oil in Miami. This was very gratifying, 
as it showed quite conclusively that, later on in 
the race, the Sky-Bird would be able to make her 
longest jumps without the peril of fuel short- 

At a height of close to two thousand feet 
they headed across Florida Strait, with Paul at 
the throttle. It was a real joy to be looking 
through the glass panels of the airplane's cabin 
once more, to hear the muffled roar of her en- 
gine and propeller, and to realize that probably 
before dark they would be across the five hun- 
dred miles of blue waters of the Caribbean and 
hovering over the w^orld-famous Canal Zone. 

It was a fine morning. What clouds could be 


seen were well above them — light, billowy, and 
white, reflecting the sunlight so strongly upon 
the white-capped waters below, that the sea 
seemed much closer to the voyagers than it really 

Shortly after eight o'clock they crossed over 
the long, low-lying island of Cuba, dipping down 
close enough to get a fairly good view of the 
topography. Then rising to three thousand feet, 
they swerved a little to the eastward and made 
off across the Caribbean Sea itself. 

At a few minutes of eleven they sighted the 
shore of Jamaica, five miles or so to the east- 
ward of them. Then John took the throttle, 
both engines were put into the work, and they 
began to whizz through the air at a clip which 
would have made them gasp for breath had 
they been in an open cockpit. As it was, the 
rush of air as it swept along each side of the 
fuselage and off its narrowing tail, became a 
veritable howl in whose noise they found con- 
versation very difficult. Tom Meeks, who was 
leaning over John's shoulder and watching 
the instrument-board, triumphantly announced 
presently that they were traveling at the rate 
of 280 miles an hour! 

For thirty minutes or more John Ross kept 
the Sky-Bird going at this terrific speed, then 
he slowed up, and transferred into mono-engine 


gear, as there was no use in unnecessarily heat- 
ing the power-plants. As the indicator of the 
speedometer retreated to 150 miles, he turned the 
throttle over to Bob Giddings, and said: "Hold 
her at this rate, Bob; it's plenty fast enough for 
the present." 

It was a little after one o'clock when Paul and 
Tom announced land to the westward. After 
looking at the object, which surely had the ap- 
pearance of land, Mr. Giddings laid down the 
glasses and consulted the chart. 

"That's undoubtedly the outer point of Nica- 
ragua," he said; and upon taking a look them- 
selves with the binoculars, the others all agreed 
with him. 

Keeping the low-lying coastline of the con- 
tinent on their right, and buffeted considerably 
by contrary winds which now began to make 
themselves manifest. Bob threw the automatic- 
pilot into gear at a suggestion from John, as 
this insured greater safety, and steered with the 
rudder only. At once the riding became easier, 
for the moment a gust of wind hit the machine 
on one side, the elevators and ailerons shifted 
and counteracted its uneven effect. 

After a while Bob turned slightly to the east- 
ward, and about mid-afternoon they came in 
sight of Colon, the Atlantic terminal city of 
the great Canal. Sweeping over its collection 


of houses, at an elevation of about fifteen hun- 
dred feet, they passed the big white Gatun locks, 
and followed the trail of the Panama Railroad 
across the great neck of rugged land which 
joined North and South America — followed, 
too, the tortuous, wonderful channel which 
American enterprise had cut through. 

Thus over Gatun Lake they flew, over the 
Chagres River; along the course of Culebra Cut, 
with its high banks, across the Pedro Miguel 
and Miraflores locks on the other side of the 
isthmus; over Ancon; and finally below them 
lay clustered the white-robed buildings of 
Panama itself, with the swelling blue reaches 
of the big Pacific to the southward and west- 
ward, and the bold shore-line of South America 
to the southeastward. 

Looking down as they circled the narrow 
tongue of land on which the city proper nestled, 
our friends soon made out the big Government 
landing-field and airdrome, distinguished by its 
whitewashed cobblestone markers at either end. 
And, now, as the Sky-Bird II swooped down- 
ward, several attendants in white pantaloons 
could be seen running out of the building. 

When the airplane had settled, these men 
came up. Two were short, black fellows, prob- 
ably San Bias Indians; but the other two were 
whites, though well-burned by the tropical suns. 


The taller of the white men introduced himself 
as Henry Masters, superintendent of the land- 
ing-field, and was extremely courteous when he 
learned the identity of the new-arrivals. 

"We have been looking for you gentlemen," 
said he, "and I'm glad to know you had such a 
fine run from Miami. There are a lot of 
strangers in town — ^been arriving for the last 
three or four days — all to witness the start of 
this big race. Most of them seem to be news- 
paper men from the States, though there are a 
number from South America, and even Africa 
and Europe. Is this the plane that you fellows 
representing the Daily Independent are going 
to fly in?" 

"This is the one, Mr. Masters," responded 

*Tt is a beauty," said the superintendent vAih. 
enthusiasm, as he glanced over the graceful out- 
lines of the Sky-Bird. "I never saw one built 
on these lines until the other day, when what 
seems to be its twin came in." 

"Much like-um lot," remarked one of the 
natives, and his companion, added more con- 
cisely: "Same like-um lot." 

In spite of the fact that our party had been 
fearing some such information as this upon 
reaching Panama, the actual announcement of it 
made their hearts jump wildly. 


"Where is this machine now?" asked Mr. 
Giddings as calmly as he could. 

"In the hangar," was the reply of Masters. 
"It is the one that is going to fly against you." 

"Who is in charge of it?" inquired John 

"Five arrived in it. Four of them are to be 
in the contest, they say. The other gentleman is 
Mr. Wrenn, of the New York Clarion f 

A few minutes later, when they pushed the 
Sky-Bird into one of the big double hangars, 
their suspicions were conclusively clinched. For 
there at one side stood the very counterpart of 
their own airplane, differing only in the name 
painted upon its sides and under its big hollow 
wings. These letters spelled "Clarion"! 



OUR friends exchanged glances. The 
brow of every one of them contracted 
into so plain a frown that Mr. Masters, 
the superintendent of the airdrome, could not 
help noticing it. 

"I hope nothing is wrong, gentlemen^" he ven- 
tured half-interrogatively. 

"So do we," responded Mr. Giddings, "but if 
there is, it is nothing concerning you, sir, at 
least. We thank you for your attention to our 
machine, and wish you to take the best care of 
it while it is here. Don't let anybody meddle 
with it, will you?" 

"We'll look after it right, you may depend 
upon that," said the flying official; and the 
party turned and left the building. 

Outside, where they would be secure from the 
hearing of others, all came to a pause, for there 
was a lot on their minds. 

"Well, boys," said the publisher, "y^u see 
our suspicions back there in Miami were cer- 
tainly well-founded. It seems that in some 



manner those stolen blue-prints have fallen into 
the hands of our rivals, and they have been wise 
enough to profit by the fact." 

"Do you think, dad, that Mr. Wrenn could 
have been back of this theft?" propounded Bob 
who, although the publisher was a business rival 
of his father's, had always thought him above 
such operations. 

"I really do not know what to think," was 
Mr. Giddings's answer. "I have aways enter- 
tained the greatest respect for this gentleman's 
honesty, if he does differ with me politically. 
But I must admit that since this thing has hap- 
pened — " 

*'Sh-h!" warned Bob suddenly. "Here comes 
Mr. Wrenn now!" 

It was as he said. Turning his head in the 
direction of the entrance to the landing-field, 
Mr. Giddings instantly recognized, in the short 
figure in linen coming toward them, the person 
of the publisher of the Clarion, 

"I shall have this matter out with him right 
now," was the grim declaration of the Daily In- 
dependent's director. 

"Well, well! how are you, Giddings? How are 
you, Robert?" cried Mr. Wrenn, sticking out 
his pudgy hand when he came up to the little 
group. Such was his gusto that he did not seem 
to notice the lukewarmness of the father's and 


son's greeting. Mr. Giddings introduced Jolin, 
Paul, and Tom, and then the publisher of 
the Clarion continued with good-humored rail- 
lery: "I'm mighty glad to see you fellows 
here, for I began to think you would get scared 
and flunk us at the last moment. Was over 
on the hotel veranda when I saw a plane land 
here, and I guessed it might be you, and hurried 
right over. Put your machine up yet?" 

"We did," said Mr. Giddings rather sourly. 
"And do you know, Wrenn, when we ran the 
Sky-Bird in the hangar we saw yours in there 
and received quite a disagreeable surprise — ^I 
may say shock." 

Mr. Giddings and the boys watched the broad 
face of their rival very narrowly as this state- 
ment was put. Would he act guilty? 

There was an explosion of laughter, the 
heartiest of laughter, from the Claiion director. 
"Oh, say, that's one on you, Giddings! I knew 
you'd be down in the mouth when you saw our 
machine and realized that you would have to 
contend against one as good or better than your 
own — one of the same type!" And he laughed 
again, until he had to wipe tears from his little 
blue eyes. 

This was incomprehensible conduct from 
a guilty conscience! What could it mean? 
Surely Mr. Wrenn, of the Clarion, was either 


the coldest and deepest-dyed rogue in the world 
or a man entirely innocent! 

"How did you know that we had an airplane 
like yours?" asked John sharply. 

The fat man broke into renewed chuckles at 
this question, and it was a moment or two be- 
fore he could find words. Then he said: 
''There's a little story connected with this, and 
now that we're right on the eve of the race and 
there's nothing to be gained by further secrecy, 
I'll tell it to you. You see, about a year and a 
half ago, possibly two years, a young man came 
to me for a job as sporting reporter; said he 
had been a flyer in France and that the Govern- 
ment wanted him as an Air Mail pilot, but he 
would rather take up the newspaper game. I 
put him to work, and he proved very good in 
gathering news of sports, especially aviation 
stuff. A week or so after you challenged me 
to this race — which I would have liked to back 
out of, but couldn't and save my honor — this 
chap showed me some blue-prints of a novel kind 
of airplane which he claimed to have co-devised 
with a flyer friends who, he said, was helping to 
make you a machine of the same type for this 
contest. He — " 

"What is this young man's name?" inquired 
John Ross excitedly. 

"Peter Deveaux." 


"Peter Deveaux!" exclaimed John and Paul 
at once. And John added: "Mr, Wrenn, that 
fellow did not refuse to fly in the Air Mail ser- 
vice ; he did fly, and was dishonorably discharged 
for drunkenness. Furthermore, he stole those 
plans from our hangar!" 

The publisher of the Clarion opened his eyes 
wide. "Can you prove those assertions?" he in- 
quired. "That last one is a serious charge, sir." 

"Nevertheless we can prove it when we get 
back to New York," declared John warmly. 

"Well," said Mr. Wrenn, "I'll finish my 
story, and then we can talk over this new de- 
velopment more understandingly. As I said, 
Deveaux claimed to have a half-right in the 
plans, and having no reason to doubt it, I told 
him to proceed, when he proposed to make an 
airplane for us from the designs and to head 
a crew for the Clarion in this race around the 
world. Now you will understand my position 
in the matter." 

*Wrenn," spoke up Mr. Giddings with quick 
frankness, "I beg your pardon. The young 
men here and myself fancied you must have had 
a guilty part in the production of this fac-simile 
of our airplane. We now see who is really to 

"I do not blame you for your suspicions," 
was the candid reply of the fat man, "if things 


are as you state; and I will do you the honor, 
Giddings, to say that, although we are business 
rivals, your word is as good as gold with me. 
This is a lamentable situation. What shall we 
do about it?" 

Mr. Giddings studied deeply before making 
answer. Then he observed: *'Wrenn, this con- 
test, as you know, has been too widely adver- 
tised to wreck it just as it is about to begin by 
the arrest of this man, Peter Deveaux. Say 
nothing to him about it; in fact, we will none 
of us mention a word of this to anybody; but 
when the race is over you can quietly dismiss 
him from your service, if you wish. As I now 
look at it, no great harm has been done, if any, 
by his duplicity; with two planes practically 
alike, the race will really be a fairer one, and a 
more exciting one for the public who read our 
newspapers, and supremacy will probably go 
to the better crew." 

"I don't know about my crew, as Deveaux 
picked them up; but they did good work when 
they brought me down here the other day in the 
plane," said Mr. Wrenn. "Giddings, I think 
your plan is all right, and we'll let the race go 
on as if nothing had happened ; but you bet your 
last dollar I'll fire Pete when it's all over, if he 
has done what you say!" 

With that the publisher of the Clarion accom- 


panied our friends back to the hangar, where he 
had a good look at the Sky-Bird II, and showed 
his own airplane, which was in all essentials an 
exact copy of the other. Following this they left 
the airdrome and went to their hotels. 

All had a good night's rest — probably the 
last one they would have on earth for more 
than a week, — and after a hearty breakfast they 
proceeded to get what supplies they would need 
to last them until they should reach Georgeto^vn, 
British Guiana, on the north coast of South 
America, This would be their first stop. Some- 
how the townspeople quickly guessed their 
identity, and they were followed from store to 
store as they shopped by a curious and motley 
throng of dark-skinned natives, among whom 
were noticed quite a few white children, pre- 
sumably belonging to American employees of the 

With such eatables as they had bought stored 
in a basket, and carrying a few other packages, 
the boys went out to the airdrome. A guard 
stood at the door to keep out those having no 
business in the hangar, and as the young flyers 
passed in they noticed that IMr. Wrenn and a 
group of four fellows in flying-suits were going 
over the rival airplane. 

"Here, boys, come over here a minute !" called 
the fat man. As they approached, the aviators 


with him turned from their work. One, a slen- 
der fellow with swarthy skin and a scrubby black 
mustache, scowled when he looked at John Ross, 
and as Bob Giddings and Tom Meeks got their 
eyes on him, they gave an involuntary start, for 
they recognized in the man the fellow they had 
seen hanging around the fair-grounds in Yon- 
kers when their machine was in process of con- 

"It's time you fellows got acquainted with 
each other," said Mr. Wrenn, and he forthwith 
proceeded to introduce his crew as Pete Deveaux, 
Chuck Grossman, Oliver Torrey, and Sam 

"How are you, Ross?" greeted Pete Deveaux. 
He uttered a sour sort of laugh, as his com- 
panions offered their hands around the group. 
"I won't do any shaking," said he, "as my hands 
are kind of greasy." 

"Don't worry, Deveaux," advised John quick- 
ly. "We won't feel bad over a little thing like 

"That your plane over there?" asked the 
swarthy fellow. 

"That's it; quite a strong resemblance to yours 
here," said John with cutting sarcasm. 

"That's so," was Deveaux's comment, cast- 
ing a quick look toward Mr. Wrenn. Appar- 
ently he was as anxious to drop the subject aa 


a chicken would a red-hot kernel of corn, for he 
immediately observed, with an ill-concealed 
sneer: "I suppose you guys think you're going 
to leave us a good ways behind in this race?" 

*'We're not telling what we think," put in 
Paul; "but one thing is sure: we're going to 
keep you hustling some." 

"Oh, that's too bad, now, ain't it?" drawled 
Oliver Torrey, as he leered out of one eye. 

"Say, kid, wx'U beat youse so bad you'll be 
squallin' before you're half-way round the 
globe," put in Sam Lane. 

"You bet! Ain't no use o' flying against such 
veterans as us," supplemented Chuck Grossman, 
with a wag of his frowsy head. 

INIr. Wrenn frowned. While these might be 
his own men, it was hard to countenance such 



BY eleven o'clock the tanks of the Sky- 
Bird II had been filled with gasoline 
and oil, and the radiator of each engine 
supplied with twelve gallons of water. In ad- 
dition to this, its crew had carefully gone over 
every brace, control, bolt, and nut to make sure 
that everything was tight, the engines had been 
run detached from the propeller for a few min- 
utes to warm them up, and every bearing not 
reached by the lubricating system was well oiled 
by hand. 

Mr. Giddings had appeared about an hour 
earUer, bringing with him the two special cor- 
respondents of the Daily Independent^ as well 
as several other newspaper men representing 
various j)rominent foreign publications. As soon 
as our boys had finished shaking hands with 
these, they were introduced to a number of well- 
known Government officials and aviation repre- 
sentatives, who added their good wishes for the 
success of the big undertaking. Then came Mr. 



Wrenn with a party of his own distinguished 
friends, which called for more hand-shaking. 

At twelve-fifteen the rival machines were 
pushed out of the hangar and took up positions 
in the field, ready for the signal to "hop." At 
twelve-fifty both crews, with the exception of 
their respective crankers-up, entered their ma- 
chines, and a heavy hush fell over the great crowd 
which had assembled to see the start of the first 
race around the world's circumference. It was 
without denial an auspicious moment, and as they 
stood there and looked at the two big mechanical 
birds which were to attempt this prodigious 
feat, embracing almost 25,000 miles, threading 
every mile of the distance through the air in the 
astounding time of ten days, the situation was so 
fraught with awe, particularly to the native 
Panamanians, that now at the last moment all 
were practically voiceless. 

The rival publishers gave their parting instruc- 
tions as their crews climbed into the cabins, and 
these were to the same effect: "Don't forget, 
boys, to report to us at every stop, and mail us 
all the pictures you can. Between stops use your 
wireless for reports whenever possible. Good- 
bye, and the best of luck!" 

Lieutenant-Colonel Warren J. Hess, a gentle- 
man prominent in American aviation circles, had 
been selected as judge of the contest. He was 


not only to give the signal to start off the flyers, 
but with Mr. Giddings, was to await in Panama 
their return, and demand from each crew upon 
arrival a document containing the signature of 
the port official at each scheduled landing. 

Colonel Hess, looking at his watch, now raised 
his hand, and instinctively those in the front of 
each of the long lines of spectators flanking the 
run-way crowded back so that the airplanes would 
not strike them as they dashed down the field for 
the take-off. Tom Meeks and Chuck Cross- 
man spun the propellers, sprang back to 
escape their vicious whirr as the respective en- 
gines fired, and quickly clambered into their ma- 

It was exactly one o'clock. Both airplanes 
taxied down the runway side by side. They also 
arose together, amid a great cheering, some 
ninety feet apart, shooting grandly up into the 
air above the heads of the people in the lower end 
of the field. At a height of a thousand feet, the 
gray Clarion bent eastward. At fifteen hundred 
feet, the Sky-Bird did likewise. From the open 
windows of each of the cabins fluttered white 
handkerchiefs in a final farewell, and many a 
broad-brimmed hat in the hands of the excited 
populace below was waved in answer. 

Flying low, the Clarion started away in the 
lead, while her rival had been mounting to her 


own preferred higher level. By the time the Sky- 
Bird had straightened out, her contemporary 
was well in advance. 

''We're losing ground," said Bob Giddings 

"Don't worry about that," said Paul Ross, 
who was at the throttle; "we can catch them 
when we're ready. We'll get a better current of 
air up here." 

Paul's maneuver had been due to the fact that 
heavy head-winds were blowing, and he was 
quite sure if he went higher he would get above 
the worst of these. 

As they now shot along on an even keel, it 
seemed hard to realize that they had at last 
started out on the important flight for which they 
had been planning and working so long; and as 
Paul watched his instruments and the scudding 
rival machine ahead, he could not help wondering 
what the issue of it all might be — if the fates 
would be so kind as to smile enough on the Sky- 
Bird to bring her in ahead of the Clarion 
and within schedule time. Many weary miles 
must be covered before they would see Panama 
again. And when they would land in that air- 
drome again— if in truth they ever did! — would 
it be as victors, or as listeners to the jeers of the 
rough crew of the other plane? 

It was not an ideal day for the start from a 


weather standpoint. In fact, a consultation of 
the weather reports at the Panama Bureau be- 
fore they left had shown a prophecy of strong 
northeasterly winds and possible showers. The 
sun was almost shut out by patches of cloud, glint- 
ing through only occasionally; but neither crew 
had felt like postponing the start, so eager were 
they to be off and so confident were they in the 
capabilities of their respective machines to meet 
almost any sort of bad weather. 

Straight along the Isthmus both machines pro- 
ceeded, making a bee-line for Georgetown, which 
it was hoped to reach at daylight. The coast- 
line was low along here and very uneven, with 
numerous pretty little islands on the Pacific side, 
the waters surrounding them sparkling like 
jewels when the sun's rays would struggle 
through the clouds and strike the tossing waves. 

In the northern part of the Republic of 
Colombia they passed just to the right of the 
western terminal range of the great Andes Moun- 
tains, and within an hour's time were sailing 
through Quindiu Pass of the central arm of the 
same mountains. At this time they were over 
twelve thousand feet above sea-level. Then came 
the table-lands of western Venezuela, open in 
places and covered with thick growths of tropical 
forests in others. 


As they approached the foothills of the eastern 
chain or arm of the mountains, Paul took the 
throttle, and they steadily arose in order to clear 
the high pinnacles facing them, and finally, at a 
height of fifteen thousand feet — ^the greatest 
height they had yet attained — they went over 
them. The airplane encountered several "air 
pockets" in this process, which might have been 
disastrous to them except for the stablizing effect 
of the automatic-pilot. As it was, the machine 
pitched rather roughly in surviving them. 

In sweeping past the last crag they had come 
very near to striking, owing to a cloud which en- 
wrapped it. Just in time Paul's sharp eyes had 
seen the white bank of snow on the crag 
ahead, and he elevated his craft enough to pass 
over. It was so cold up here, even in the cabin, 
that the boys had to don their heavy coats. 

Just as they turned the nose of their machine 
toward a lower level, running at reduced speed, a 
huge bird with curving beak, which Jolm said 
was a condor, dashed from the crags after the 
airplane. It was followed a moment later by 
five or six others. The great birds seemed to 
resent the appearance of so strange a giant 
in the mountain fastnesses where they had 
always held the supremacy of the air, all the 
time darting angrily at it, flapping their long 


black and white wings, some of which had the 
immense span of fourteen feet, and croaking 

The boys laughed at first, but when the crea- 
tures commenced to come closer, frequently hit- 
ting the windows with their sharp beaks, and 
cracking two of them, they began to get really 
alarmed. Once the propeller struck the tail of 
one bold and incautious condor, and feathers flew 
in all directions; but after a quick circle he was 
back again, madder than ever. 

"Say, fellov/s," cried Paul; "we've got to do 
something with these birds right away! First 
thing we know, one of them v/ill get hit a squarer 
blow with the propeller and smash it. Then we'll 
crash as sure as I'm sitting here." 

This peril was very imminent, as all could see. 

John seized the shot-gun from its rack, and 
Tom one of the rifles. These were loaded. 
Stationing themselves on either side of the cabin, 
the young men drew down the windows in front 
of them, poked out their weapons and watched for 
a chance to use them. 

Tom's gun was the first to blaze away, but it 
is diflicult to hit a bird on the wing with a rifle, 
and he missed. A moment later, as a condor 
dashed viciously toward his window, John fired, 
and the great bird, mortally stricken, tumbled 
into the mists below. 


Tom was more fortunate the next time. A 
condor, with a fluttering of his immense wings, 
had settled right on the tail of the machine, where 
he clung with his sturdy talons, threatening to 
prevent Paul from manipulating the rudder. 
When Bob called Tom's attention to this alarm- 
ing situation, the latter joined him at the rear 
window of the cabin. Tom took careful aim, 
pulled the trigger, and the condor fell with a 
broken wing, uttering hoarse cries until the 
clouds below swallowed him up. 

Two more of the fierce creatures were killed be- 
fore the remaining birds were frightened off. It 
was with a sigh of relief that Paul now resumed 
his descent to lower levels. 

When presently they emerged out of the last 
cloud, and could see the green earth below them 
once more, they were across the last chain 
of mountain they would encounter in South 
America. They gazed with their glasses on all 
sides, and checked up their position on the chart, 
although in doing this they had great difficulty on 
account of a curtain of thin fog which hung over 
the land, and only a very low altitude of about 
five hundred feet would allow of it at all. 

As soon as they were sure of their bearings 
they again took a searching observation in quest 
of the rival airplane, but no sign of it could they 


"They're probably quite a bit ahead of us by 
this time," observed John; "but now that we're 
through the last chain of the Andes we can make 
better speed. Shoot her up to two thousand feet. 
Buddy. We'll set our course for Georgetown by 

Paul bore upward, and at the level mentioned 
he straightened the machine with her nose once 
more pointed eastward, and the compass hand 
pointing along the left wing of the machine. 

It was now growing dark. Not knowing 
whether this was caused by the closing in of the 
clouds or the natural declension of the sun, Bob 
looked at his watch. To his surprise he found it 
was seven o'clock Panama time, which would 
make it probably close to nine in their present lo- 
cality. Night should now be upon them. 

As it had been decided to let John and Tom 
operate the night shift, at least for the first few 
days, John now took his trick at the throttle, 
changed to the fresh engine, and Bob and Paul 
turned into their hammocks for the first sleep 
aboard the airplane. They were both pretty 
tired, as each had spent several hours at the helm 
that afternoon, and it was only a few minutes be- 
fore the gentle rocking of the plane on the bil- 
lows of air had sent them into a sound oblivion. 
Just before retiring, Bob had wirelessed Panama 
of their safe passage through the mountains and 


fight with the condors, stating that several snap- 
shots of the birds had been secured and that these 
would be mailed to the Daily Independent upon 
reaching Georgetown. 

Not long after the change of pilots a fine rain 
began to fall, covering the windows of the cabin 
with a film of moisture; but as it was now too 
dark to see anyhow, John did not care whether 
he could look outside or not. However, for the 
good of the machine, as well as the better- 
ment of their speed, he decided to get out 
of the storm. So, switching on the little dash- 
board electric lights to illuminate his instruments, 
he turned the Sky-Bird upward again. Through 
the very clouds which were expelling the rain, 
gathered from the warm Atlantic trade-winds, he 
guided the machine. At nine thousand feet he 
was above them, in clear dry air, with a blue, star- 
studded sky above his head and in the mellow 
glow of a full moon. 

"Well, John, this is more like night-flying," 
remarked Tom Meeks, who sat just behind the 
pilot, ready to assist him at a moment's notice if 
the need should appear. 

"As long as I know there are no mountains 
ahead to smash into I'm not worrying a bit," re- 
plied John, "and I guess we're all right on that 
score. "I'm going to let the old girl out now, 


"Might as well," was the response. 

Thereupon John threw on the gas by degrees 
until the indicator showed them to be whizzing 
along at 150 miles. He easily could have gone 
fifty more on the one engine had he chosen, but 
was afraid such a speed would carry them beyond 
their destination and out into the Atlantic before 
daylight could show them their position. Had 
they not previously been running somewhat be- 
hind scheduled time, he would not have accel- 
erated even now. 

Shortly after midnight Tom relieved him at 
the throttle, and running slightly slower, to make 
sure they would not pass over Georgetown in the 
darkness, Tom began to hum softly to himself as 
he kept a sharp lookout upon his instruments. 
John settled back in the seat behind, as alert for 
any sudden peril as his mate had been before. 

But no mishap marred the night's run, which 
was as smooth up there above the clouds as any 
veteran flyer could have wished. And when at 
last the bright sun of another day chased the 
moon and its haze into obscurity, it lighted up the 
flying craft some time before its orb had peeped 
high enough over the Atlantic's horizon to shed 
its rays upon the affairs of earth itself. 

Gradually, as the sun arose in the heavens, Tom 
brought the Sky-Bird lower, until presently he 


and John could see the ground, bathed in glisten- 
ing color from its recent wetting, far below them. 

At this time Paul and Bob awoke, and wash- 
ing their hands and faces, came to the windows to 
look out. The first thing they all did was to 
sweep the sky-line for some vision of the rival 
airplane, but without success. Then they put their 
attention on the country below and around. 

Just beneath was a pretty little blue lake, 
walled in with great forest trees some of which 
must have been over a hundred feet high. A 
short way beyond was an immense field covered 
with what they were sure must be sugar-cane, 
and in which they could see dark-skinned men at 
work with queer carts and clumsy oxen. At the 
right, a mere thread of silver, was a river, hedged 
with tropical vegetation. This swept around 
toward their front, enlarging as it came, and at 
what seemed no farther than five miles away, 
poured its waters out into a great sea of appar- 
ently limitless expanse. 

The boys concluded at once that this great 
body of water must be the Atlantic Ocean, and 
when they saw a fair-sized town nestling among 
the trees at the point where the river joined the 
sea, their chart told them that the stream was the 
Essequibo River, and the collection of low-roofed 
buildings was none less than Georgetown! 


A few minutes later, they were circling the 
town to locate their landing-field which was to be 
marked with a large white letter T. Seeing it 
on the second turn, they swept down amongst a 
curious and half -frightened throng, and taxied 
to a stop. 

To their relief and gratification, they found 
that their rivals had not yet appeared. 




CORRECTING their watches with 
Georgetown time, as given to them by 
Mr. Whiteshore, the EngHshman in 
charge of the field, the boys found to their joy 
that they had arrived five minutes ahead of sched- 
ule. This would give them, if they wished to take 
it, a trifle more than three hours to spend in 

But first must come business; they must go 
over the machine very carefully and see if the 
long, hard run from Panama had done any dam- 
age; and they must replenish their fuel, oil, and 
water supply. They were happy to find both en- 
gines in fine shape, thanks to the possibility of 
alternating them in transit, and beyond a num- 
ber of scratches and the cracked glass made by 
the condors in their attack in crossing the Andes 
the airplane was in perfect shape. Paul climbed 
up and examined the helium-gas valves, of which 
there were three in each wing, one for each of 
three compartments, and announced that the 
pressure showed only an insignificant decrease. 



At the rate of escapage indicated, they would 
have plenty to last them for the whole trip. This 
was reassuring knowledge, for no envelope can 
be made so impervious that light gases will not 
escape at all. The body compartment also showed 
good pressure. 

It took them an hour and fifteen minutes to 
replenish the fuel tanks and water radiator and 
put everything in shape. Just as they were finish- 
ing up, a cry from the curious crowd around 
them called their attention to the western sky, 
and they saw an airplane approaching. This de- 
veloped rapidly into the unmistakable outlines 
of the Clarion, and in a few minutes the rival crew 
landed in the field. 

Pete Deveaux sauntered over to the crew of 
the Sky-Bird II. 

"Well, fellows," he said, with the sneer which 
seemed to be on his leathery countenance most of 
the time, "I notice you got in a little ahead of 
us. Congratulations! I suppose you're tickled 
to death." 

"We're not quite that far gone; just a little 
bit alive," grinned Tom Meeks. "What made 
your crew so slow, Deveaux? Did you get wet in 
that rain last night and have to stop off and dry 
out your clothes?" 

"Aw, cut it out; talk sense!" snarled the 
French flyer. He turned on his heel, fearing 


more of Tom's sharp thrusts if he lingered 
longer, and shot back: "You guys will have 
another laugh coming one of these days, mark 
my words!" With that he rejoined his com- 

Not at all worried at such a prophecy, our 
friends secured a native boy to guide them into 
the town, a quarter of a mile distant, leaving 
their airplane under guard of two Chinese out in 
the open, the field boasting no such thing as a 
hangar. At the little telegraph office of the 
town, John dispatched their report to the Daily 
Independent, also mailed at the local postoffice 
the promised films of the encounter with the con- 

They then purchased some breakfast and be- 
gan to look about them. While it was still 
early, the narrow streets were quite well crowded 
with people, so much so that it looked to the visi- 
tors as if the inhabitants never slept. What they 
saw almost made them rub their eyes to make 
sure they were not in Asia instead of South 
America. There were dozens of almond-eyed 
Chinese within sight, dozens of black Hindoos in 
turbans and flowing garments, dozens of Parsees 
wearing long black coats and hats like inverted 
coal-scuttles; to say nothing of numerous Por- 
tuguese and English, the latter mostly merchants 
and plantation owners. 


The roofs of the buildings were slanting, with 
wooden or galvanized iron walls. Some of the 
more important of them, such as stores, ware- 
houses, government buildings, etc., were quite 
large, and stood upon piles to keep them out of 
the way of floods which often sweep the lowlands 
in the rainy season. In many of the streets ran 
canals, which their small guide told them, in 
pidgeon-English, were drains for the floods. 
And he also said that the long embankments 
which the boys saw stretching along the sea front 
were dykes built at great expense by the sugar 
planters to keep these same floods from washing 
the rich soil of their fields out into the ocean. 

After purchasing some fresh fruit and gro- 
ceries for their aerial larder, the little party be- 
took themselves back to the landing-field, on the 
way passing numbers of pretty little houses 
which stood in the midst of beautiful gardens 
filled with tropical plants. 

As they neared the field, they saw that quite 
a crowd had collected since their departure. 
Pushing their way through the concourse about 
their own airplane, they were surprised to find 
Pete Deveaux and Chuck Grossman just jump- 
ing doA\Ti from the wings. These flyers hurried 
away through a gap in the circle of onlookers 
toward their o^ati machine before our friends 
could accost them. 


The Sky-Bird crew were considerably put out 
at noting this situation, for they had particularly 
told the Chinese guards to let no one meddle 
with the Sky-Bird. The Celestials were squat- 
ting unconcernedly upon the ground, one on 
either side of the airplane, as John rushed up and 
said to one of them: "Didn't I tell you not to 
let any strangers around this machine?" 

"No lettum stranger lound," protested the fel- 
low. "Him both flylers alia samee you. Like- 
uni see, you see; like-um see, he see." 

*'0h, ginger!" exclaimed John, turning to his 
comrades, in clear disgust, "the stupid dunce 
thinks those fellows belong to us and we to them, 
just because we all wear the same sort of flying 
clothes! Did you ever see the like?" 

Paul now took up the questioning. "What 
were those fellows doing up there?" he asked of 
the Chinaman. 

"No tellee me; no tellee Lee," was the re- 
sponse, as the fellow jerked his head in the di- 
rection of his comrade. "Just lookee over alia 
samee you do li'l bit ago." 

"Were they in the cabin?" demanded Paul. 

"No go in klabin." 

They walked around the machine giving it a 
cursory looking over, but could find nothing out 
of the way, and every one of them felt consider- 
able relief. 


"I guess they were only taking a look to see 
if our construction was the same as theirs," sug- 
gested Bob. This seemed a plausible explana- 
tion, and they accepted it, although with some 

About ten minutes later they saw the crowd 
over in the other side of the field scattering, and 
then the Clarion shot up into the air. In a few 
minutes it was pointed down the coast and 
making good headway. 

Our friends were not quite ready, but when the 
other machine was a mere speck against the south- 
western sky, they hopped off themselves, with 
Paul at the throttle. Not one of the party had 
any doubt but that they could catch their rivals 
before the latter should arrive at Para, where 
they were due at six o'clock that evening. It 
needed only that first stage of the journey from 
Panama to Georgetown to show them that they 
had either the speediest craft or the most skillful 

Paul mounted to a height of about two thous- 
and feet, then let the Sky-Bird straighten out in 
the direction of their next stop. He opened up 
the throttle little by little, and the machine rapidly 
gained momentum. But somehow the young 
pilot was dissatisfied. Finally he hitched the 
stick over to the notch which should have brought 


the craft into a speed of 150 miles, and watched 
the speedometer closely. 

"Humph!" he ejaculated, after fifteen or 
twenty minutes. 

"Say, Paul," cried Bob just then, "we're losing 
on the Clarion. She's clear out of sight now." 

"Why don't you tell me something I don't 
know?" growled Paul in a tone very queer for 

"What's the matter with you. Buddy?" de- 
manded John, stepping up. "You seem to have 
an awfvil grouch on, some way!" 

"Got a good reason for it," snapped Paul. 
"This is enough to make a preacher almost 

"Don't talk, but speed her up a bit if you don't 
want them to get away," advised John. 

"She doesn't act right, somehow," said Paul. 
"The Sky-Bird ought to be hitting it up to a 
hundred and fifty right now, but she's only mak- 
ing a hundred and fifteen. She acts groggy; 
don't you notice it?" 

"I thought myself she was riding a little rocky 
— sort of out of balance," admitted John. 

"Take the stick and try her yourself," said 
his brother. 

John did so. For fifteen minutes he said 
nothing, but worked the throttle and watched 


the speedometer. Then he called Paul again 
to the seat. 

"You might as well take her, Buddy," de- 
clared John with a puzzled shake of his head; "I 
can't do any better with her than you. She 
wallows along like a man with a load of buck- 
shot in his pockets — hea\y — and seems out of 
equilibrium, too!" 

*'What do you suppose is the matter, John?" 
asked Tom Meeks. 

"I'll bet Pete Deveaux and that Chuck Cross- 
man have been tampering with her, back there in 
Georgetown," declared Bob. 

"I don't know; it certainly looks kind of sus- 
picious," admitted John Boss. He thought a 
moment. "Cattails and jewsharps!" he ex- 
claimed very suddenly. 

"What now?" asked Bob. 

"I believe I've hit the trouble," stated John, 
with his brown face a shade paler. "You know 
we saw those fellows monkeying around our 
wings. It would be an easy matter to trip one 
or more of those valves and let some of the helium 
out! That would make us heavier, and if more 
gas were let out from one wing than from the 
other, we would be out of balance in the bar- 

This declaration of John's brought a startled 
and troubled look to the faces of his companions. 


All knew that if Pete Deveaux had engineered 
such a dastardly trick as John hinted at, a handi- 
cap would be in store for the Sky-Bird's crew aU 
through the remainder of the race, for it would 
be impossible to get a renewal of their helium- 
gas supply before reaching their own country: 
again, and then it would be too late. 

"What shall we do?" came from Bob. 

"Do? There's nothing to do now, but to keep 
on flying at the best gait we can until we reach 
Para," decided John. "When we get there we'll 
have a chance to find out what is really wrong." 

This seemed the wisest course to pursue. So 
Paul, vexed though he was at the contrary ac- 
tions of the airplane, buckled down to the job of 
guiding the machine and complained no more. 
But he made up his mind that if investigations 
proved the rival crew had been tampering with 
the Sky-Bird II he, for one, would do his part 
in giving them a warm time should they meet on 
the ground again. 

At noon while John and Tom slept. Bob re- 
lieved Paul, and for an hour they made a little 
better time by working both engines ; but, afraid 
of overheating the one they termed their "night 
engine", they went back to one motor for the rest 
of the journey into Para, where they arrived an 
hour late. And it was to find bad news awaiting 


The landing-field official announced that the 
Clarion's flyers had left not fifteen minutes be- 
fore for Freetown, Africa. And upon investigat- 
ing the helium valves in the wings of the Sky- 
Bird, our boys found to their dismay that fully a 
third of the pressure was gone, indicating that 
an equal quantity of gas had escaped in some 

It may be added that there was very little 
doubt in their minds as to this manner. 



OUR friends looked at each other dis- 
mally when they had ascertained the 
cause of the Sky-Bird's sluggish flying. 
Paul and Tom even gave the craft a tentative 
push, and found that the loss of her hehum had 
made her so much heavier to move over the 
ground that the difference was manifest at once. 

**This looks kind of black for us, fellows," re- 
marked Bob. 

"And we've got those scoundrels to thank for 
it without the shadow of a doubt," put in Paul, 
with flashing eyes. *'I'd give a year of my life 
to get my hands on that Pete Deveaux right 

*'It's lucky they got out ahead of us," added 
Tom significantly. 

"Well, if they were here, and if we thrashed 
the stuffing out of the entire bunch, that wouldn't 
put back our lost helium and former speed," said 
the practical Jolm. "What we've got to do now 
is to try to remedy matters." 

"Easier said than done, I'm thinking," Tom 


observed. *'We can't get any more helium here ; 
in fact, not mitil we get back to Panama. Of 
course that will be too late." 

*'I don't know about that," hinted John. 

"What's your remedy?" asked Bob. 

"I know," said Paul. "The machine's out of 
balance now, because they have let more helium 
out of one wing than the other, and none at all 
out of the fuselage. By letting some out of our 
body tank, and enough out of the lightest wing 
to bring it in equilibrium with its mate, we can 
get a perfect balance again, and that ought to 
give us air steadiness and more speed." 

"Right you are, Buddy," declared John. 
"Good head! That's my idea exactly." 

"But won't that make us even heavier than we 
are now?" inquired Bob. 

"Sure," responded John, "but balance is the 
main thing in an airplane, you know. When we 
get that, the old girl will act a whole lot better 
than she did coming here." 

"Still, our rivals will have some advantage over 
us," argued Tom. 

"That's true — in the way of a lighter machine. 
But we've shown we could outspeed them when 
the Sky-Bird was all right, and now we ought to 
be about an even match for them," said John. 

"That means a nip-and-tuck race of it, then, 
the rest of the way," commented Paul. 


At this point a bright idea struck Bob. "Say,' 
fellows," he cried, "why can't we send a wire 
message from here to Mr. Giddings at Panama, 
and ask him to have a fast vessel drop a tank of 
helium off at Nukahiva. Marquesas Islands, for 

His comrades slapped Bob so hard upon the 
back when he made this suggestion that he had 
to stagger. 

"Fine idea, Bob!" declared John. "A fast boat 
ought to reach Nukahiva before we do, and that 
will give us a full load of helium again for the 
last four or five thousand miles of the race. If 
it's a close contest up to that point, the new sup- 
ply may save the day for us I" 

They now set to work equalizing the gas 
supply in the wings of the Sky-Bird and reducing 
that in the fuselage to the proper pressure for 
perfect equilibrium, which they were able to get 
by the use of the pressure-gauge and a little 
figuring. Then they went over all parts of the 
machine, put in gasoline and oil, and attended to 
watering the radiators, following which Paul and 
Bob departed for town. 

As in Georgetown, they created a vast interest, 
and were considerably annoyed by the crowds of 
natives which followed at their heels, many of 
whom carried baskets of fruit on their heads and 
constantly importuned them to buy some of their 


wares. Even in the windows of the houses they 
passed women holding naked babies, who stared 
out at them, and in the doorways stood girls, some 
of them beautifully gowned in silks, their dark 
hair falling like a shower about their comely nut- 
brown faces, while their eyes opened wide in 
wonder or dropped in abashment when they saw 
one of the handsome young Americans look their 

Para is directly on the equatorial line. It is 
also the metropolis of the mighty Amazon, the 
king of all the world's rivers, whose width here 
at its mouth is close to two hundred miles, and 
which carries into the Atlantic so much mud from 
the interior of South America that it is said the 
waters of that ocean are stained yellow for five 
hundred miles outward. This mighty stream is 
formed by countless mountain creeks and rivers 
draining practically the whole northern half of 
the continent, and these streams are formed in 
their turn by the heavy rains which fall fre- 
quently from swiftly-gathered clouds. In fact, 
it rains nearly every afternoon in Para, and the 
air is always moist, so much so, that articles 
made of steel and iron quickly rust, and furni- 
ture must be pegged together rather than glued 
to keep it from coming apart. 

Paul and Bob found Para quite a good-sized 
city, but on very low ground. Along the docks 


of the mighty river were many kinds of boats and 
ships, from stately ocean-liners to the tub-like 
barges used to float down from Bolivia great car- 
goes of raw rubber. There were numerous 
schooners unloading vegetables and fruit, and 
countless dugouts paddled by natives. Carga- 
dores, in their bare feet, were carrying goods in 
and out of the various large craft, supporting 
the heaviest of bundles on their bare heads. Their 
faces were all shades of white, brown, and black. 
Among them were negroes from Jamaica, and 
SjDaniards, Portuguese, and mulattoes from all 
parts of Brazil. 

The business buildings were three and four 
stories high, and built close to the sidewalks 
along narrow streets. Their w^alls, the boys 
noticed as they crowded their way along, were 
of all colors, some being faced with blue, yel- 
low, and green porcelain tiles. 

By asking questions they found the telegraph 
office, and there sent the message to Mr. Gid- 
dings at Panama, requesting that the helium-gas 
be sent to Nukahiva by fastest boat. They also 
wired a report of their progress. They had by 
this time another roll of exposed kodak films, 
and this was mailed to the Daily hide jy end ent. 

No sooner had they reappeared from the 
post-office than they were once more besieged 
with peddlers asking them to make a purchase 


•of their wares. Paul and Bob stopped when 
they saw some particularly luscious-looking 
oranges and bananas, and were surprised upon 
asking the price to find that they could have 
a dozen of each kind for the value of five cents; 
and oh! how sweet and juicy they were when 
they sank a tooth into them. 

They bought some baked goods in a little 
shop, and as they emerged an old man with a 
parrot on one shoulder and a small monkey on 
the other blocked their pathway, and begged 
them to look at "nice parryote, nice monk." 

They shook their heads, when they saw other 
vendors crowding forward, and were about to 
push by when the monkey sprang nimbly upon 
Paul's own shoulder, snatched off his cap, shook 
it in front of his eyes, and put it back in place 

Paul and Bob both laughed, and harder yet 
as the bright little animal shot a paw into Paul's 
pocket and adroitly drew out a Brazilian gold 
coin called a milreis, worth about fifty-four 
cents in American money. 

"You give five milreis, me give monk," said 
the old mulatto. 

Paul shook his head. 

"You give four milreis, me give monk." 

"No; that's more than I have of these coins." 

"You give three milreis, me give — " 


"Only have two of them left," said Paul. 

"You give two milreis, take monk." 

"It's a bargain," laughed Paul. 

And he fished another of the coins out of his 
pocket, accepted the end of the rope tied to 
the monkey, and went off with Bob, his newly- 
acquired pet still contentedly occupying his 

"We'll surprise John and Tom when we get 
back to the field," chuckled Paul. ''They won't 
be looking for this addition to the crew of the 

"I'd say not," declared Bob, also chuckling. 

And indeed Paul's little hairy friend did cre- 
ate a lot of interest when they arrived beside the 
airplane, John and Tom both playing with him 
for several minutes, and going into hilarious 
laughter at the funny antics of the weazened- 
faced creature, which looked so much like the 
wrinkled old mulatto from whom he had been 
purchased, that Paul said he should henceforth 
be called "Grandpa." 

They put the monkey in the cabin, and climbed 
in themselves, since all was in readiness for 
the departure. Night had fallen, but the sky 
was clear and moonlit. So there was no trouble, 
by helping matters with their searchlight, in 
hopping off and turning their head across the 
big Atlantic toward the shores of Africa. 


As the trade-winds were blowing quite stiffly 
in their faces, John, who was at the throttle, 
determined to mount high enough to overcome 
their most resistant effects. When at an alti- 
tude of about five thousand feet, he brought 
the Sky-Bird out horizontally, with her nose 
set by compass toward Freetown. Before they 
could reach this African seaport it would be 
necessary for them to travel considerably more 
than two thousand miles and meet whatever 
storms might develop. But all had such confi- 
dence in the capabilities of the Sky-Bird that 
none had any worries, fierce as some of the At- 
lantic storms were known to be. 

As they could no longer see the sea beneath 
them, owing to the darkness and fog which lay 
between, John had to rely entirely upon intui- 
tion and his compass to strike Freetown. Aerial 
navigation over immense bodies of water is 
similar to navigation on the seas themselves, ex- 
cept that the indispensable sextant of the 
mariner is of little use in the air, owing to the 
high speed of travel and the fact that allow- 
ances have to be made for the drift of the ma- 
chine when side-winds are blowing — an ex- 
tremely difficult factor to determine accurately. 

In side-winds the machine makes leeway in 
addition to its forward movement, and it is the 


ratio of one to the other which the successful 
pilot must work out correctly, especially when 
flying above clouds or when land features are 
unobserved. In this particular instance our boys 
were supplied with charts indicating the trend 
of all normal winds in each locality and their 
approximate force at various altitudes. Thus, 
by consulting his speedometer, John was able 
to figure out with a fair degree of certainty 
what allowances he should make from dead 
reckoning in order to strike their destination — 
or rather, we should say that Tom, as John's 
aid, did most of this figuring, for a pilot gen- 
erally has his hands full in guiding his steed. 

The Sky-Bird was acting much better now, 
since her equalizing of weight back at Para. She 
lacked some of the speed of her old-time self, 
but rode smoothly and evenly in the hardest 
gusts. It was once more a pleasure to sit in her 
cabin, even if the rival airplane was ahead of 

"We'll give them the race of their lives yet," 
observed Tom, as he studied the maj) and the 
speedometer alternately. 

"We surely will," said his companion. 

And both of them clicked their teeth in a way 
which boded no good for the rival craft ahead. 

Shortly before midnight they crossed the 


equator for the second time since they had left 
Panama. But, rolled in their comfortable ham- 
mocks and sound asleep, with Grandpa, the mon- 
key, blinking drowsily in a corner nearby, neither 
Bob nor Paul was conscious of the fact. 



PAUL was awakened the next morning by- 
feeling a gentle tug at his nose. Unused 
to such a summons as this, he opened 
his eyes with a start. 

There on his breast squatted Grandpa, his 
little head cocked comically to one side, his 
beady little eyes glistening with mischief, and 
his slim fingers just reaching out for another 
tweak. The monkey gave a lightning-like 
spring to the back of a nearby seat when he 
saw Paul looking at him, and here he set up 
a shrill chattering, which also awoke Bob and 
caused Tom and John to whirl around. 

*'You fellows have got a good alarm-clock 
now, the way it looks," called Tom, laughing, 
and taking in the situation. ^'Grandpa will 
save John and me the trouble of stirring you 
sleepy heads up after this, I expect," 

Paul and Bob sprang out of their hammocks, 
and the former seized the monkey and laugh- 
ingly shoved his nose up against one of the 
window panes. Far down below were the roll- 



ing billows of the great Atlantic, the early sun 
striking them into many beautiful tones of 
green and blue, and cutting a silver pathway 
across the curling crests. A school of dolphins 
was leaping out of the water off to the left. 
From the opposite window the youth could see 
a small emerald island in the distance, but ev- 
erywhere else was water, vast reaches of it. 

Grandpa evidently had no eye for nature, 
as viewed from this novel position, for he 
quickly twisted out of Paul's arms and jumped 
down to the floor of the cabin, where he pranced 
about excitedly. 

"It's just a little bit too high to suit your 
exalted monkeyship, isn't it?" chuckled Paul. 
*'Well, you'll get used to it. Grandpa, before 
you get around the world with us! I'll promise 
you, sir, that you will be the farthest- jumping 
and highest- jumping monkey that ever lived. 
You ought to be proud!" 

After getting something to eat, Paul re- 
lieved Tom at the throttle, and Bob tried to get 
Freetown by radio. Failing, he did get Para, 
and advised them of their safety and approxi- 
mate position over the Atlantic. 

Now that the weather had cleared up so that 
they could run in view of the ocean, John and 
Tom themselves turned in for a much-needed 
sleep, leaving their younger companions to di- 


rect the course of the Sky-Bird on the last stage 
of the lap. The trade-winds were blowing 
freely, but with a lack of gustiness which made 
progress against them quite rapid and smooth. 

It was two hours later that those in the 
Sky-Bird saw the coastline of Africa jutting 
out into the sea in a great bulge, and a little 
afterward they recognized landmarks agreeing 
with their chart. As they were slightly south 
of their course. Bob made the proper deviation, 
and in twenty minutes they were over a muddy 
field, marked with the looked-for white T, at 
Freetown, Sierra Leone. 

As they were spiraling downward they saw 
a crowd of natives gathered in one portion of 
the field, and caught a glimpse of an airplane's 
wings in their midst. Many of this throng now 
rushed over to where the newcomers had landed, 
among them a tall Englishman, who intro- 
duced himself as the port minister and person 
who was to supply them with a replacement of 
fuel. Several other Englishmen, all officers 
in the garrison of the town, came up and were 

"We 'av' been looking for you fellows, but 
not quite so soon," stated the port minister. 
'*Hif I had known—" 

"How is that?" asked John. "We are just 
about on schedule." 


"So you are; but those other flyers over there, 
who 'av' been 'ere the past two 'ovirs declared 
you 'ad been dela^^ed in South Hamerica hand 
would not be bin before to-morrow morning, so 
as w^e 'av' a coasting vessel w^ith more petrol 
due 'ere then, I let them 'av' hall the petrol 
they wanted, hand I fear — " 

"They had no reason for telling you we were 
delayed to such an extent as that, without it 
was to further their own interests," interrupted 
John, significantly. "But I don't see their 

"I don't know, I'm sure," was the response; 
"but has I was saying, they asked for an 
hextra filling of their tanks, hand so — well, 
gentlemen, I am sorry to say it, but there hisn't 
ten gallons left." 

Our friends heard this with mixed feelings. 
They were rightfully incensed at their rivals 
for such a dastardly trick, vexed with the port 
minister, and dismayed to think that they would 
have to wait until the following day before they 
could resume their journey, for at Para they 
had not filled their tanks to capacity. 

At this point cries arose in the other part of 
the field. They heard the familiar whir of an 
airplane propeller, and as they looked to where 
the Clarion had stood, they saw the natives 
scatter and the gray machine of the other crew 


shoot up into the air. Rapidly it gained alti- 
tude, and was soon a mere dot on the western 

Ignoring the yells of the port minister and 
his mihtary countrymen, the Clarion crew had 
gone straight on, and there seemed nothing for 
our boys to do now except await the arrival 
of more gasoline as patiently as they could. 

John and Tom set to work cleaning up the 
Sky-Bird, for the field here was low and very 
muddy from recent rains, and as they had 
dashed through the slime in landing much of 
it had splattered over their projpeller and under- 

Paul and Bob went into town, followed by 
a throng of young negroes who fought for the 
privilege of getting closest to them. They 
found the stores small and mostly unpainted, 
and the houses principally shambling and 
squatty, most of them having thatched roofs. 
The streets were narrov/, crooked, and dirty, 
but there were areas about some of the more 
pretentious dwelling-places which were really 
entrancing in the wealth of their tropical plants 
and stately palms. On the whole, the stone 
garrison, setting a little remote from the town 
proper, was the largest and best-constructed 
building, although this looked old and somber. 
Freetown, the capital of the little British colony 


of Sierra Leone, is all on low ground, and the 
air is moist and extremely humid, even un- 
healthful for those not accustomed to it. 

Just before dark a terrific thunder-shower 
sprang up with all of the suddenness of such 
equatorial storms, and Bob and Paul made for 
the field as fast as their legs could csiYry them. 
They sprang inside of the Sky-Bird's cabin, 
wet to the skin, where John and Tom were 
already ensconsed, and Grandpa the monkey 
gave them a noisy and hearty welcome. A little 
later, with the rain pattering heavily down 
upon the roof, all hands turned in for the first 
ground sleep they had had since starting out 
upon theii trip. 

Shortly after daylight the next morning they 
were astir, to find the rain had ceased but that 
the field was a mass of ooze. Through this 
Tom made his way to the cobblestone street and 
down to the piers. But the coasting steamer 
had not yet arrived; in fact, she did not come 
in until after eight o'clock, and it was two hours 
later before the flyers succeeded in getting their 
tanks filled with the gasoline she had brought. 
Then it was found necessary to secure the aid 
of a half-dozen negroes, and to lay down many 
strips of heavy bark for traction, before the 
Sky-Bird could be run out of her mired posi- 


Paul was at the throttle as they took off. 
iWhen he had attained a fair altitude, he gradu- 
ally increased the speed until they were running 
full out. Never since the beginning of the trip 
had they felt such urgent need of putting the 
airplane through at a fast clip, hut that time 
had now come, for they were fourteen hours be- 
hind schedule time and sixteen hours behind 
their rivals. 

The Sky-Bird fairly cut the air like a knife, 
and the roar of propeller, wind, and engine was 
so great that our friends found conversation out 
of the question except by shouting in one an- 
other's ears. Poor Grandpa cowered in the 
farthest corner of the cabin, peeping out from 
behind one of the hammocks, as meek as a 
kitten, his tail crooking uneasily. But finding 
that the strange noises did him no harm, he 
presently came out and took up a position 
where he could look through the glass-floor 
window at the fleeting country below. 

It seemed only a few minutes before, rising 
higher, they shot over the ragged chain of the 
Kong Mountains in western Senegambia, pass- 
ing within sight of Mount Loma's bare peak. 
Then, dropping again until they were not more 
than a thousand feet high, they flew along over 
the tablelands to the eastward, recognized the 
Joliba River as it lay a yellow, twisting band 


below them, and a little later crossed the south- 
ern end of the district of Bambarra. 

Great forests and jungles and canebrakes 
swept past them. In those tangles of gnarled 
trees, matted vines, interlacing rank grasses, 
and clusters of towering plants, so dank with 
the odor of wet and decay that the air even 
up where the flyers were seemed charged with 
it, lurked many a monster reptile and ferocious 
beast. Often the four boys saw the majestic 
form of a lion or the lumbering shape of an 
elephant as these animals were quenching their 
thirst at some open spot along a stream. And 
once they caught a brief glimpse of a terrific 
combat between what seemed to be two enor- 
mous rhinos, which had met in a little glen in 
the midst of a cluster of mahogany trees. How 
they would have liked to see the finish of this 
battle royal I Indeed, they would have enjoyed 
nothing better than to land in some favored spot 
and do a little big-game hunting with their rifles ! 

If they had been ahead of their adversaries 
instead of behind, they might have indulged in 
such sport, they thought. But now it would 
be unwise to waste a moment. They must 
make every endeavor to reach their next air- 
port, Kuka, by nightfall. This small town was 
on the western bank of the salty Lake Chad, in 
the very heart of Africa, and on the southern 


border of the great Sahara Desert. It pos- 
sessed no railroads or telegraph service, being 
linked with the outside world only by caravan 
route, and its inhabitants were practically all 
half -civilized negroes of the Fulbee tribe, who 
retained all of their forefathers' superstitions 
and wore no garb over their frescoed black 
bodies except a short gikki or skirt. 

Mr. Giddings and Mr. Wrenn had had great 
difficulty in getting an English-speaking man to 
set up a field at this point for their flyers, and 
it was only after considerable telegraphing that 
a Scotch trader named Maclnnis, situated at 
Lagos, the nearest coast-port of any size, had 
agreed to get a supply of gasoline and oil 
to Kuka and meet the airplanes when they ar- 

It was five o'clock when the boys passed 
over the low banks of the Niger River. By 
seven they were in the heart of the wild, level 
territory of Sokoto, skimming over vast ex- 
panses of plume-like grasses and extensive 
marshes and swamps. Strange birds of enor- 
mous size flew up out of the morasses, startled 
at the sight and sound of the airplane. Some 
tried to follow it, evidently to give it battle, but 
the swiftest of them were hopelessly outdis- 
Itanced before they were well started. 
. When the sun disappeared behind the forest 


back of them, the flyers were still making speed 
for their destination, with Bob at the throttle. 
Pretty soon the lengthening shadows and ob- 
scuring of detail below convinced the crew that 
night was just about uj^on them, and that if they 
did not reach Kuka within the next thirty min- 
utes they were very likely to be in such dark- 
ness that they would overrun it and never know 
the difference. 

Some of them began to wonder if they had 
not missed their course, when a cry came from 
Bob, and they all ran forward and looked out 
of the front windows at the object he was 
pointing out. 



WHAT our flyers saw was a very large 
body of water, with a strong tone of 
blue to it. As far to the north as they 
could see, it stretched, also to the east and 
south. And the shoreline on the western side 
nearest them was covered with what seemed a 
never-ending border of great forest trees, many 
of which had all the characteristics of man- 

This great expanse of water they knew could 
not be the Red Sea, nor could it be the Indian 
Ocean; for they had not traveled far enough 
westward to reach these bodies. Unquestion- 
ably, therefore, it was that which they were 
looking for — Lake Chad. 

As they swept nearer, under reduced speed, 
they observed somewhat to their left a good- 
sized collection of dwellings in an opening 
among the mangroves, evidently a town. 
Swerving in that direction they were soon cir- 
cling above the place at an altitude of about 
five hundred feet, hoping that it might prove 
to be Kuka, their next stop. 



By this time it had grown so dark that they; 
could just make out the buildings and sur- 
roundings. The former seemed to be nothing more 
than rude huts with rounded thatched roofs cov- 
ered by saplings. The flyers saw many dark 
figures, with little or no garb, running about and 
excitedly gesticulating upward to their position. 
As they circled lower, these figures, evidently na- 
tives, suddenly vanished within their abodes. 

"They seem scared to death of us," remarked 
Paul, laughing. 

"Apparently they think the Sky-Bird is some 
gigantic member of the feathered kingdom about 
to swoop down and devour them for their 
sins," added Paul, who w^as equally amused. 
"Pete Deveaux and his crowd ought to have 
landed here some time this morning, though, 
and you would think the sight of their ma- 
chine taking on gas would have gotten the 
blacks used to an airplane." 

Be that as it may, every one of the dusky 
figures below had vanished as though the earth 
had swallowed them up. A strange if not fore- 
boding stillness hung over the town. You 
would have thought it contained not a single 
being, at least not one who was awake. 

All at once John, who had been intently look- 
ing around the outskirts of the town, observed 
an open spot marked with the welcome sign of 


a white T. He joyfully called the attention of 
his comrades to this, and as they looked they 
saw the form of a man emerge from the 
shadows bordering the field and wave his 
arms upward at them. From the fact that 
this person was attired in European costume, 
they judged he must be Mr. Maclnnis, the 
Scotch trader who had been appointed to look 
after their fuel interests at this point. 

It was a novel experience to be able to make 
a landing unhampered by throngs of curious 
inhabitants, as they now did. The field was 
quite level, though sandy, as might be ex- 
pected so close to the big desert, and they had 
to dodge several clumps of small growths, pre- 
sumably juju trees, before they could taxi to a 

The man in linen now rushed up to them, 
and introduced himself as Mr. Maclnnis. He 
hurriedly shook hands with the boys, display- 
ing, they thought, great nervousness while 
greeting them, and several times he turned his 
head and looked in the direction of the nearest 
shacks of the town. 

Then he asked what they thought a very 
queer question. "Have you fellows enough 
petrol and oil to last you through to your next 

^'That's Aden," answered John; "we didn't 


fill to capacity at Freetown, and I'm afraid not. 
Why, what is the matter? Haven't you any 
fuel here for us?" 

"I have plenty of both petrol and oil here 
for you," said the Scotchman, with another look 
toward the huts, "but I am afraid for your lives- 
if you stay to put it aboard." 

"How is that?" cried Tom, his usually smil- 
ing countenance growing sober for once, while 
his companions felt a vague uneasiness. 

"It's this way," stated Maclnnis. "About 
eight o'clock this morning the airplane that is 
racing you came in. It was the first machine 
of the kind the natives had ever seen, and they 
were greatly frightened, thinking Jobbajobba, 
one of their heathen devils, had appeared in the 
guise of a great bird, and was about to attack 
the children of the wicked of them. When the 
aviators climbed out, and they saw that they 
were human, they lost some of this fear, but 
remained at a respectable distance all the time 
the 'great bird was being given a drink.' Then 
two of the men — one was the slender and dark- 
complexioned fellow — went into the town sight- 
seeing. In the course of their rounds they stole 
the ivory head, set with gold eyes and teeth, 
off of the body of one of the tribe's most cher- 
ished idols, the god of Ogu Nogo. This was 


not discovered until the aviators had departed 
in their airplane, but then the Fulbees were 
wild with rage at the 'bird-men,' as they called 
them, and swore to kill them if they should ever 
return. To-night they observed you landing, as 
I did. They are now in hiding, probably with 
weapons, and are undoubtedly watching your 
every move, ready to strike when the time 
comes, thinking you to be those other fellows 
or men of as evil instincts. As I said, I fear 
for your lives if you tarry here." And as he 
finished he once more glanced nervously around 
at the huts and shacks in the gloom of the fast- 
gathering night. 

But in that direction all was so quiet that 
John hopefully remarked: *T think they are 
too frightened to appear. We need more gaso- 
line, as we have been running very hard and 
our tanks are low. We will hurry matters up, 
and three of us will fill while the other stands 
guard with a rifle." 

Mr. Maclnnis then helped John, Tom, and 
Paul carry the big square tins of British petrol, 
which is the same as American gasoline, from 
the field shelter to the Sky-Bird, where, in the 
course of a half-hour, two hundred gallons were 
poured into the tanks, also ten gallons of oil. 
In the meantime, Bob Giddings, rifle in hand. 


stood close by, alert for danger. He watched 
the nearest buildings of the natives sharply, but 
though he saw numbers of black figures skulk- 
ing in the shadows among them, no sign of 
hostility was observed. 

The Scotchman had signed his name to 
the document certifying to the stop of the 
flyers at Kuka, — the paper on which they were 
to secure certifications at every scheduled air- 
port, — and they were just in the act of start- 
ing over to the field tank to get some water for 
the airplane's radiators, when, without a mo- 
ment's warning' a hair-raising chorus of yells 
broke out on the brooding night air, and scores 
of savage-looking figures sprang from the 
shadows of the buildings into the open field. 
They emerged in a long straggling line, hoot- 
ing and brandishing guns, spears and bows. 
They advanced toward the airplane in peculiar 
hops and side jumps, as if fearing an attack 
upon themselves. Not once did they cease their 
blood-curdling shouts. Rapidly they neared 
the objects of their anger and hatred. 

For a full five seconds the boys stood as if 
rooted in their tracks, too horrified and as- 
tounded to think or act. The sharp voice of the 
Scotchman, however, brought them to their 

"You've fooled here too long; it's too late to 


get away now I They're mad as wet hornets. 
Jump inside your cabin quick, and defend your- 
selves as well as you can!" 

"But you, sir?" cried Tom. 

"They won't harm me, because I'm not a 

The boys dashed into the cabin and shut the 
door, while the Scotchman hurried away from 
the airplane. It was certain that there was no 
time to get out and crank the propeller and rise 
before the mad Fulbees would be upon them. 
Cornered in the little cabin of the machine they 
would sell their lives as dearly as possible. 

As they stood, guns in hand, watching 
through the windows, while the frenzied blacks 
drew cautiously nearer, spreading a cordon of 
hundreds all around the Sky-Bird, they could 
see in the moonlight that the Fulbees were gro- 
tesquely painted on arms and faces, while their 
bodies were entirely naked except for a dirty- 
looking cloth wrapped around their loins in the 
form of a short skirt. Every one of them was 
armed, and as they contracted their circle, guns, 
spears, and bows were frequently raised in 
threatening position; but for some reason no 
shots were fired. The inmates knew, however, 
that when nearer approach brought more assur- 
ance of hitting their target, the blacks could be 
counted upon to open up actual hostilities. 


And now this thought brought a sudden and 
grave fear to their minds, one unnoticed be- 
fore. The helium-gas tanks in the hollow wings 
and rear fuselage! Bullets, spears and arrows 
striking them v/ould penetrate, and the tanks thus 
punctured would lose their last ounce of the 
precious gas! 

It was a terrible predicament in which the 
flyers now found themselves, to be sure. By- 
fighting they might preserve their lives, but 
that very act would make their world-trip im- 
possible. What could they do? 

As the drowning man catches with hope at 
the floating straw, Bob now conceived an almost 
impossible but startling idea for delivering them 
from their dilemma. 

"The searchlight!" he cried. "These blacks 
never have seen one. Perhaps we can frighten 
them away with ours!" 

"Great idea. Bob," approved John, while the 
others also applauded the scheme. "Paul, you 
work the lever that revolves the lamp up on 
top of the cabin there, and. Bob, you throw in 
the juice." 

No sooner had he spoken, than both boys were 
at their stations. The next moment a great 
white path, widening as it went, streamed out 
into the darkness, lighting up everything in its 
reach with the brilliancy of day, but with a 



bluish-whiteness which must have been de- 
cidedly terrifying to the superstitious ne- 
groes. Like an accusing finger the strange light 
swept around the field, raising and lowering, 
resting a few moments on this group and then 
that group of petrified, hideously-painted faces, 
from which eyeballs stood out like knobs of 
white marble. 

In an instant their incensed cries had ceased, 
and they had shrunk, cringing, back in their 
tracks. But only for a few moments, and then 
their gurgled yells arose once more, this time 
in ear-splitting fright, as all turned and fled 
toward the nearest forest. And that great, ter- 
rifying white eye of the big "bird" followed 
them, shining for many a rod on black backs 
which were so wet with perspiration that they 
looked like oiled eelskin. Weapons were thrown 
in every direction as the Fulbees fled. When- 
ever one would look around and see that glaring 
eye looking straight at him, he would shut his 
own eyes and shriek, and then go dashing fran- 
tically on. Some even threw themselves pros- 
trate when the flood overtook them, and uttered 
invocations to their gods for protection from the 
monster, until they could pluck up courage 
enough to continue their flight. 

Had the situation not recently been such a 
serious one for them — indeed they were not out 


of it yet!— the flyers would have roared witH 
laughter. As it was, they kept the light travel- 
ing over the Fulbees until the very last one had 
fled. Then at a quick word from John, they all 
jumped out of the cabin and swung the airplane 
around for a quick take-off. 

Tom spun the propeller; there was a roar as 
the engine caught, and a few seconds later they 
were mounting up into the starlit heavens of 
the equatorial night. At a height of two thou- 
sand feet, they presently looked down, safe 
from the menace of the black populace whose 
reception had been so rabid. 

But Kuka was blotted out in the mantle of 
gloom which lay between. Only the sparkling 
ripples of Lake Chad, struck by the beautiful 
tropical moon, could be seen. 



SO FAST had the flyers in the Sky-Bird 
come across the western part of the Afri- 
can continent, at its greatest bulge, that, 
coupled with their very brief stop in Kuka, they 
found they were starting out for Aden, Arabia, 
with a gain of approximately seven hours upon 
their lost time of fourteen hours in Freetown. 
They were now, therefore, just seven hours be- 
hind schedule — perhaps a little more than that 
behind their rivals, — but in the very fact that 
they were cutting down both items, they felt 
vastly encouraged, and as the airplane headed 
eastward across Lake Chad there was only one 
thing to worry them to any extent. 

This was the need of water; that is, all felt 
that the need would become an urgent one be- 
fore daylight should come and a chance be given 
to land and replenish the limited amount which 
they knew must now be in the radiator, owing 
to the impossibilit;^ of getting water as expected 
at Kukat 



John was at the throttle, with Tom assisting. 
Paul and Bob were playing with Grandpa, still 
too excited over their recent adventure to turn 
in and get some sleep, as John said they ought 
to do. After a little while they turned their at- 
tention to studying the chart and schedule. Fre- 
quently they compared notes, and now and then 
jotted down some figures on a pad. 

"Do you know, John," observed Paul, look- 
ing up very cheerfully, "that if we continue to 
travel at the rate we did between Freetown and 
Kuka we shall make up all lost time by morn- 
ing, and arrive at Aden about on schedule?" 

"You don't say!" exclaimed John. 

"You kids have made a mistake," informed 
Tom disbelievingly. 

"No mistake about it," protested Bob; "it's 
an out-and-out fact." 

"Well, that's cheerful news, then," said Tom. 
"I know we hit her up to well over two hun- 
dred an hour coming across to Kuka." 

"And we'll do as much on this stretch, if our 
water only holds out," declared John determin- 

"That's the rub," put in Paul. "I'm sure it 
won't hold out, and if we work right up to the 
last drop, I'm afraid we may have to make a 
forced landing, and that may be in the tops o£ 
I the trees, for all we know." 


"Or on an elephant's back," added Bob jo- 

"Well, I don't know but that we had better 
try to make a landing as soon as we come to a 
favorable spot where there is water," remarked 
John. "It is a fine moonlight night, and if we 
strike the right place I think we can make the 
ground. In a pinch, you know, we can use our 

"Speaking about searchlights — oh my! oh, 
my! will I ever forget hov/ frightened those 
blacks were?" And Paul laughed until the 
tears came into his eyes, now that the tension 
was off. Tom joined him until both of them 
staggered and bumped together, causing Grand- 
pa to set up an excited chatter of inquiry. 

John kept the Sky-Bird low, down to less 
than a thousand feet, after crossing the lower 
neck of Lake Chad, for the chart showed no 
marked elevations which would make flying at 
that height hazardous, and it was certain that 
the closer they were to the earth the better they 
could detect a favorable place to land. 

It was really a beautiful night, and they open- 
ed the cabin windows after a while to enjoy 
the soft balmy air to the full. The vvdnd then 
rushed through the cabin like a hurricane, roar- 
ing so that conversation was out of order; but 
they enjoyed its cool touch on their hot faces. 


One by one the stars had made their appear- 
ance, until now the heavens fairly glittered with 
them. How pretty they looked up there in the 
great blue vault in w^hich they seemed the choic- 
est settings of an angel's handiwork! Some- 
how they seemed to sparkle more brightly, and 
the sky seemed a richer cobalt, than the sky the 
boys knew at home. But they missed many of 
the stars which they loved in America. The 
swift airplane in which they rode had taken 
them, day by day, and night by night, away 
from them. JMany stars which were unknown to 
them had taken their places, and they realized 
more strongly than all the pictures in the world 
could have shown them how very unlike were the 
skies of the northern and southern hemispheres. 

One of the most striking sights to them now 
was the constellation of the Cross, commonly 
known by mariners as the Southern Cross, and 
which is composed of four brilliant stars. Sirius, 
Canopus, and Centaur also filled a part of the 
heavens with their splendid light. JNIars, Ve- 
nus, Saturn, and Jupiter were old friends in new 
surroundings, and were all dazzlingly dressed. 
The part of the INIilky Way between the 
stars Sirius and Centaur was so rich in stars and 
crowded nebulae that it seemed a perfect blaze 
of illumination. And there were the Magellanic 
clouds, white-looking patches made up of count- 


less stars individually unseen to the naked eye, 
and nebulee — ^mists of radiating light — all shin- 
ing brilliantly and revolving around the star- 
less South Pole. To the northward was the con- 
stellation of the Great Bear, which reaches its 
meridian altitude about the same time as the 
constellations of the Cross and the Centaur. As 
the boys looked, stars appeared and disap- 
peared. They were like a succession of guests, 
coming and going. 

After a while, the flyers saw a small river 
glinting in the moonlight and running along for 
the most part in the direction they were taking. 

"The first time we come to a level, open spot 
along this stream we will try for a landing," 
stated John. "It will afford us plenty of water 
for the radiator if we can get down to it." 

"And plenty of water for a good plunge, 
too," said Paul. "I haven't had a bath since 
we left jNIiami, and I'm fairly suffering for a 
wetting, if it's no more than a quick dip." 

"Same here," seconded Bob and Tom. 

They were running much lower now, on the 
lookout for a place to stop, and so once more 
they could hear each other's voices. 

Presently, just after clearing a dense forest, 
they saw the opening they sought. It was a 
grassy level, free of bushes and other obstruc- 


tions, and well bathed in the soft light of the 
stars and moon. 

After some careful maneuvering, John 
brought the Sky-Bird down, and though the tall 
grasses wound in the landing-gear in coming to 
a stop, they broke off without doing any dam- 

"We'd better take the guns along," Tom re- 

"That's so," agreed John; "we might run into 
some ferocious animal in this wild jungle." 

So each armed himself with a rifle and a 
pail, and John led the way, as he was the only 
one of the party supplied with a lantern, the 
others having small flashlights which were none 
too good for breaking a path in such wilds. 
They knew the river lay a short distance to the 
north, but in order to reach its banks from the 
place where they had landed, they had to cut 
through a strip of woods bordering it. 

It was tedious work getting through. The 
trees were close together and had to be dodged, 
and great leaves of plants as large as their 
bodies seemed to be everywhere, while vines of 
the toughest fiber frequently shut off their 
passage and had to be pushed aside or cut with 
knives. More than once one of the partj^ tripped 
over unseen obstacles and measured his length 
in the soft, rank ground-vegetation. 


But it was only a little way to the river, and 
soon they stood upon its grassy bank. It was 
a pretty stream, not very deep, and seemed 
quite clear when John held the lantern down to 
it. They filled their pails, and then, risking 
all dangers of snakes and crocodiles, disrobed 
for a plunge. 

First one and then the other jumped in. 
How refreshing the cool waters felt to their hot, 
sticky bodies ! They would have liked to do some 
diving, but were afraid of sunken logs, and con- 
tented themselves by s^Dlashing about, swimming 
a little, and making the woods ring with their 
laughter and shouts. 

Then they came out and put on their clothes. 
Picking up guns once more, and the pails now 
filled with w^ater, they started back, John still 
leading. But they had not gone far when some- 
where in advance of them they thought they 
heard the sound of a breaking limb. So sudden 
was the sound on the still night air, that all 
stoi)ped very quickly, their hearts beating fast. 

They listened, but the sound was not repeat- 
ed. They started on again, thinking the limb 
must have been a dead one and had fallen from 
some tree of its own weight. But scarcely had 
they taken a dozen steps when they heard another 
sharp cracking of wood, this time very close 
in front of them. 


Their intuition told them now that they were 
near to some night prowler of the animal king- 
dom, and perhaps one of considerable size, judg- 
ing from the crash. Hardly realizing what they 
were doing, they set down their pails, and cocked 
their rifles, facing, with alertness and uneasiness, 
the direction whence the sounds had come. 

Now they heard some rustling, as of leaves, 
directly ahead. It came slowly and cautiously 
closer. Just as it seemed about to burst out upon 
their view it stopped. There was no more noise. 
All was silent ; not even the note of a night-bird 
or the gentle chirp of an insect could be heard. 
For the first time the soughing of the tree-tops 
in the soft breeze above failed to meet their 
ears. What a deathly stillness it was! 

Suddenly, right out of the black shadows 
ahead, there sounded on the hushed air of the 
night three terrific yells, one following imme- 
diately after the other. These piercing cries 
had hardly died out when another, of deeper note, 
and a veritable roar, filled the forest with its din. 
The leaves about the boys seemed fairly to quiver 
under the violent guttural reverberations. 

John Ross may well have been excused for 
shaking as he held up his lantern in his right hand 
and threw its rays upon the tall undergrowth 
ahead, while his fingers tightened like bands of 
steel around the stock of his repeating-rifle. 


As he and his companions looked, they saw 
peeping through the foliage a black, fierce face, 
one of the ugliest and most ferocious that man 
could have imagined. It was staring straight 
at them. The brute's eyes were sunken under 
a heavy overhanging ridge of dusky skin. His 
eyes were small and black, and the iris of each 
shone like a diamond set in carbon. His fore- 
head was low, receding, and covered with short 
bristling hair. His nose was broad and flat. 
His great jaw protruded frightfully, with the 
upper thin lip pressed tight, the lower curving 
away and disj)laying a row of long yellow tusks 
which could have bitten the hand off a man with 
one crunch. 

The animal now opened his cavernous mouth, 
and uttered yell after yell again, these sounding 
something like the bark of a dog but being a 
hundred times louder. They were followed by 
terrific roars, somewhat similar to those of a 
lion, though of much greater volume. The cries 
rang through the forest from hill to hill, and 
died away in the distance. The woods was filled 
with the echo of his horrible voice. 

Then, very slowly his whole body came in 
sight. He advanced clumsily and ponderously 
towards the little party of flyers, walking erect, 
his plain intent being to kill them. His short 
legs were hardly strong enough, as sturdy as 


they were, to support his huge body. All at 
once he stopped to look at them. How vindic- 
tive his eyes were! They seemed to say to the 
boys: "I will soon finish you!" 

Then he beat his chest with his great fists and 
the noise was like a bandman striking a bass- 
drum. It was his challenge to combat. How 
long and muscular were the shaggy arms that di- 
rected these blows! How broad was his chest 
from which the sounds came! The hair stood 
almost erect on his body, and the hair on his 
head moved up and down. 

This hesitation of the monster proved the 
salvation of the flyers. It gave them a chance 
to pull their shattered nerves together and ele- 
vate their rifles. As he must keep the light on 
the creature, which now all recognized as a 
large gorilla, so that his companions and him- 
self could see to shoot, John had only one arm 
with which to handle his gun. But he brought 
the weapon up quickly, and pressed the trigger 
just as three other shots rang out from the guns 
of his companions, who had stepped on either 
side of their leader. 

A hoarse yell of rage and pain answered the 
reports. They saw the gorilla stagger, then 
drop to all fours, and lunge toward them. 

There was no chance to retreat. As quick as 
a flash John dro^^ped his own rifle, so that he 


could hold the lantern in both hands and direct 
its rays better upon the beast, and cried to his 
comrades to fire again. 

No sooner had the words left his lips than the 
others brought their repeaters once more to their 
shoulders. On account of the poor light on the 
barrels of their weapons they were again com- 
pelled to take snap shots, shooting with both 
eyes open; but this time with greater success. 

The big gorilla fell, uttering a fearful groan. 
He rolled over upon his back, his massive limbs 
twitched convulsively, and then he was still. 
Going up to him cautiously with the lantern, 
they found that he was dead. 

Extended, his great arms measured nearly 
nine feet ; his chest had a girth of seven feet, and 
he lacked only one inch of being six feet in 
height. These facts Tom ascertained with the 
use of a small tapeline which he carried in his 

"Let's skin him," said Tom; "I know how, 
and it won't take but a few minutes." 

*'Sure," agreed Paul; "his skin will be a valu- 
able trophy to take back home with us. Jiminy, 
I wish it had been daylight and we had brought 
our camera with us ! We could have secured some 
pictures worth while for the Daily Indepen- 

With his keen-edged sheath knife, Tom soon 


had the skin removed from the giant brute. The 
performance of this operation was far from an 
agreeable one, however, both for surgeon and ob- 
servers. So human-like was the gorilla that it 
seemed like skinning a man! 

As they made their way onward again, car- 
rying their trophy in a roll tied with withes 
made from vines. Bob ventured to say: "I won- 
der how the gorilla came to be awake and to 
attack us this way?" 

"I think he must have had a mate, perhaps a 
family, nearby," rephed John. "I have read 
that the mother and her babies always go up 
into a tree to sleep, while the father squats down 
at its base to guard them, and here he sleeps 
with one eye open and the other closed, as the 
saying is. At least he arouses at the slightest 
sound of an enemy. We probably awakened 
him by our shouts while in bathing, and being 
so close to him when we came back along a 
slightly different path, he thought we were going 
to attack the family upstairs, and showed fight 
right away." 

The little party regained their airplane with- 
out further incident; the radiator was drained, 
and the fresh water put in. Then, feeling that 
there was no further danger of the engines run- 
ning hot, they took off. 

As the Sky-Bird arose into the air, the flyers 


noticed that Grandpa the monkey was slightly 
excited. This they attributed to the presence 
of the gorilla's skin; but when they saw Grand- 
pa continue to dash wildly about the cabin, from 
their shoulders to the rear window, out of which 
he would take a quick look only to fly back to 
them and chatter wildly and coweringly, Paul 
thought he would see what could be the trouble. 

One glance was enough. He shut the open 
window with a bang, and turned to his com- 
panions with a pale face. 

"Fellows," said he; "we've got a passenger!" 

"A passenger?" cried they. 

"Yes," said Paul, "a monstrous big snake!" 



FOR a moment or two John and Bob stared 
at Paul blankly, unable to comprehend the 
unport of his announcement. Tom was at 
the throttle, and while he had heard the startling 
words, he was too occupied in guiding the Sky- 
Bird to do anything except take a quick glance 

"A snake?" repeated Bob. 

"Not on the machine?" cried John, 

"Yes," Paul said, with a seriousness which left 
no further doubt as to the truth of his state- 
ment. "He's a whopper — must be twelve or 
fourteen feet long and as thick as my leg. He's 
there on the fuselage just outside of the win- 
dow, hanging on for dear life. If I hadn't 
shut that window just as I did, I believe he 
would have crawled in here in a minute." 

John and Bob now hurried to the window and 
looked out. In the moonlight they could dis- 
tinctly see a huge reptile, either a python or a 
boa-constrictor, coiled up in the angle formed 



by the juncture of the airplane body and the 
broad base of the left wing. The creature was 
so long that its tail passed up over the rounded 
fuselage and out upon the other wing. Bob 
flashed his electric pocket lamp upon it, and by 
the yellow and brown mottled spots upon its 
body and the double plates of whitish scale at 
its tale, and the wicked-looking triangular head, 
they were sure it must really be a python, one 
of the most dreaded of African snakes. These 
creatures think a monkey a very choice morsel 
of food, and undoubtedly it had been attracted 
to the airplane, while it stood in the grass, by 
the appearance of Grandpa in the oj)en cabin 
window, but had been frustrated in its designs 
by the return of the flyers and the sudden rising 
of the machine. 

Now, with the window shut, the boys seemed 
safe enough for the present. The\^ could see 
that the big snake was extremely uneasy. As 
the wind whistled by him, his great tail twisted 
and untwisted, and he seemed to be trying to 
get a better hold on the smooth surface, while his 
beady eyes glared at them only a moment in 
the glow of the flashlight, and then he trans- 
ferred his attention to the landscape below them. 
His forked fangs darted in and out during this 
time with the angriest lightning-like movement. 

Paul relieved Tom at the tlu'ottle for a few 


minutes, so that the latter could have a look at 
the reptile. 

When Tom came back again to his post, he 
said, with plain uneasiness: "I never saw such 
a big snake before, Paul. Between the rush of 
wind and the roar of the engine and propeller, 
he seems scared out of his wits." 

"We've got to get him off of there somehow 
— and mighty soon, too," put in John, with de- 
cision. "Tom, if that monster should begin to 
slip a little most likely he will coil his tail around 
some of our control wires, — and then what?" 

Their faces blanched at this prospect. They 
knew what that would mean. It would mean 
that the great creature would either operate the 
airplane's rudders when they should not be op- 
erated, or would prevent Tom from moving 
them when they must be moved. In either event, 
the result would be disaster to machine and 

"Good heavens, boys!" said Tom, so nervous 
his voice shook, "get rid of that snake as quick 
as you can!" He fancied he could see the rear 
control levers moving at that instant. 

The other three flyers knew the importance of 
these instructions, but how were they to carry 
them out? The reptile was too large to be 
shoved off with a stick or pole, and would prob- 


ably squirm through the window while they 
were attempting it. And they were afraid to 
use a gun, as, in the case of a miss or a little 
lurch of the airplane at the moment of firing, 
the bullet might puncture the hollow wing or 
rear fuselage and let helium escape. 

It was Bob who solved the puzzle. 

"Why not try a loop or two?" he asked. 

Their hearts jumped with hope at tliis. So 
everything was made tight in the cabin, with 
the straps and fastenings which had been pro- 
vided when the machine was made. Even 
Grandpa had to submit to being roped up in one 
of the swinging hammocks. When the boys had 
buckled themselves down to their seats, John 
gave Tom the word, and he began to rise slowly. 
At close to two thousand feet he brought the 
Sky-Bird quickly and smoothly upward until she 
stood almost on her tail end. 

Then Tom threw the elevators and ailerons 
hard up, and held them there. They were going 
at a rate of close to a hundred miles an hour 
at the moment, and their velocity brought them 
around in a pretty loop. There was no way for 
them to tell if the serpent had been dislodged, 
so, to make as sure as he could of accomplishing 
his purpose, Tom kept his controls as set, and 
they made another or double loop. 


This time he straightened out his controls as 
he came up to the horizontal, and they ran 
swiftly ahead again on a level keel. 

His companions quickly unloosened their 
straps, and ran for the rear window. A feeling 
of the greatest thanksgiving jSUed their souls and 
joy lit up their faces. The python was gone! 
He had hurtled through the air during one 
or the other of the loops, and his long sinuous 
body was probably at that moment lying crushed 
upon the hard ground, or impaled u^oon the 
sharp stub of some forest tree, far below. 

It had been a night of intense excitement. 
Now that they began to beat through the air 
in the old timeful way, and there was nothing 
more to claim their attention until they should 
arrive at Aden sometime in the morning. Bob 
and Paul took to their hammocks for sleep, but 
first Bob got Khartum on the wireless and de- 
livered their position and a brief description of 
their adventures. As may be imagined, how- 
ever, the two youths did not shut their eyes im- 
mediately. There was much to think about and 
to talk about before even fatigue could get the 
better of them. 

Tom put the Sky-Bird through on a straight 
course for Aden as fast as he dared run the 
night engine, which was very close to its limit, 
now that it had had a chance to cool off and was 


well supplied with water. It was important that 
they should make speed, for in the stop for 
water and the subsequent maneuvering to rid 
themselves of their unwelcome passenger, the 
python, they had lost upwards of an hour's 

Flying high, and depending entirely upon 
the compass for striking Aden, they shot 
through the starlit tropical night like a meteor, 
showing no lights except the two small ones on 
the dashboard in the cabin, by means of which 
Tom could observe the instruments and the con- 
trolling levers below. Thus they crossed the 
famous Nile, sweeping below Khartum and 
across the plains of Kordofan, and when the 
first streaks of daylight appeared ahead of them 
they were just entering the plateaus of north- 
ern Abyssinia. 

Paul and Bob now relieved Tom and John, 
and the latter young men took a nap. It was 
their custom to work in pairs, the observer pre- 
paring food for himself and the pilot during the 
course of flight. Sometimes the observer took 
the throttle long enough to give his friend a 
chance to eat, and sometimes the pilot retained 
his seat, allowing the automatic arrangement to 
do the guiding for him while he munched his 

Just before seven o'clock Paul and Bob saw 


two larges bodies of water ahead of them, one 
stretching to the right and the other to the left. 
The chart told them that the northern bod}' Avas 
the Red Sea and the southern one the Gulf of 
Aden, which opens into the Indian Ocean. Be- 
tween these bodies lay a narrow belt of water, 
flanked on the western or African side by rocky, 
wooded hills, and on the eastern side by low, 
sandy shores dotted with palms. This was the 
Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb, and the country be- 
yond was Persia. 

Aden could not be more than fifteen minutes' 
run east now, and so Bob awakened his sleep- 
ing comrades while Paul guided the airplane 
across the strait. They flew a little higher, later, 
following the general contour of the terraced 
slopes of the mountains along the Arabian coast. 

As the Sky-Bird came leisurely over the 
hills surrounding this British seaport of Aden, 
they could see that the town nestled in the crater 
of an extinct volcano, as they had read. All 
around the low, white buildings spread the 
rugged hillsides, and in declivities they passed 
over numbers of the great brick tanks or reser- 
voirs which catch and store the scanty rainfall 
of the region and thus furnish Aden with its only 
water supply. 

The flyers saw many gowned figures, some on 
camels, pause to look upward at them, as they 


began to circle the town in quest of their landing 
field. Bob was the first to discern it — a fairly 
level stretch in the southern end of the valley 
or basin, marked in the way agreed upon, and 
containing two small buildings, neither of which 
was large enough to admit the machine. 

But they cared nothing for shelter for the Sky- 
Bird, as they did not purpose staying any 
longer than necessary for fuel replenislmient 
and news dissemination by telegraph and letter. 
So they quickly settled down in the midst of a 
wondering ring of Arabs. 

Mr. Griggs, the American consul here, now 
came forward with a couple of British military 
officers, and the flyers met with a hearty recep- 
tion. It seemed good to run upon one of their 
own countrymen again, after seeing so many 
strange faces since leaving Panama. Mr. 
Griggs insisted upon them all going to his home 
with him for breakfast, and to this they consent- 
ed as soon as they found he had made full ar- 
rangements for having some British workmen 
at the garrison refill the Sky-Bird's tanks. 

They found that their rivals had arrived just 
after daylight, and had departed for Colombo, 
Ceylon, less than twenty minutes before their 
own appearance. This was cheering news. 
They had gained a lot on them in crossing the 
African continent. 



MR. GRIGGS, the American consul at 
Aden, proved an affable, pleasant en- 
tertainer. His little wife was also very- 
genial and painstaking for their comforts, de- 
claring at their protests that she was doing no 
more for them than she had done for the other 
flyers when they came through, a short time be- 
fore. The couple had two children, a boy and a 
girl, and both of these plied the boys with in- 
numerable questions about their journey, ex- 
pressing the greatest interest and excitement 
when they worked out of Paul the story of the 
adventure with the gorilla and python. 

After the meal, which was very appetizing and 
refreshing, they spent a short time preparing 
their reports to the Daily Independent, and then 
accompanied their host to the post-office, where 
the letter and roll of films were mailed. At the 
telegraph office they received a pleasant sur- 
prise in the shape of a message from Mr. Gid- 
dings, which stated their reports were coming 
in to the newspaper all right, and that the great- 



est interest was being manifested in them by 
the world in general and by New York people 
in particular. 

"Whatever you do, don't let the other crew 
beat you," were his concluding words. "I have 
ordered the helium shipped to Nukahiva by fast 

"That's good news," said John, with satis- 
faction, referring to the helium, and the others 
accorded with him. 

They dispatched a telegram to Mr. Giddings, 
and then started out to buy some fruit and other 
foods. As they went along the narrow, crook- 
ing street upon which they had been walking 
they met so many Arabs with small sprays of 
dark-green leaves which they put in their mouths 
and chewed, that their curiosity was aroused, 
and Bob asked Mr. Griggs what the leaves 

"Those are the leaves of the khat bush," was 
the response. "You must have passed numerous 
plantations of such bushes up on the hillsides as 
you flew over into the basin here. The Yemen 
Arabs like to chew the leaves so well that they 
have all of the passion for them that a toper has 
for whiskey, and they will spend their last rupee 
for a small bundle." 

"Does this chewing of the leaves intoxicate 
them?" asked John. 


"Oh, no; the leaves are quite harmless. But 
they do produce a strangely exhilarating effect 
upon those who chew them. If you ask a 
Yemen Arab what he chews the leaves for, he 
will invariably look at you with astonishment 
and tell you that he forgets all his troubles, sees 
the most beautiful of fairies and the richest rose- 
gardens of Allah, and lives in a new world." 

"Do they go to the fields after it themselves?" 
inquired Tom. 

"Not at all," said Mr. Griggs; "the khat is 
brought into town every morning about eleven 
o'clock by long caravans of camels which pro- 
ceed from the khat farms along the mountain 
slopes. Long before these camels appear in the 
valley, with a bundle of khat swung on each side 
of the beasts, messengers on fleeter camels have 
brought the tidings of approach. From the 
shelters of the shops, so silent except just now, 
cheerful cries break out; the streets are filled 
with Arabs who sing joyfully; tikka gharries 
rattle madly by, whips waving and turbans 
awry; there are flashes of color from rich men's 
gowns and the sounds of their clicking oryx- 
hide sandals as they raj^idly strike the stony pave- 
ments ; there is a continual blunt clatter from the 
tom-toms in the hands of long-gowned feUows. 
They are all going to the market where the 
khat will soon arrive, each one anxious to have 


first choice and get the best bargain. There 
they will bicker Avith the khat traders for an hour 
sometimes, then in will come the desj)ised had- 
jis, the venders of firewood, who will buy up for 
a few pice the scraps which remain." 

This was all very interesting to the flyers, but 
it was high time to hurry back and resume their 
flight; so, restraining their imj^ulse to ask more 
questions or investigate the attractions of the 
town, they bought their supplies, and returned 
with the American minister to the landing-field. 

Ten minutes later the Sky-Bird was mounting 
easily up into the sky, viewed by hundreds of 
shouting Arabs. It was good-bye to Persia 

Looking at his watch, Paul, at the throttle, 
saw that it was nine-fifty. They were leaving 
Aden only fifty minutes behind schedule. That 
was not at all bad; but it was not pleasant to 
think that their rivals were still ahead of them. 
And two hours was a pretty stiff lead. 

They were not long in passing over the hills 
to the south, and then headed eastward out over 
the elongated gulf. Looking back, John saw 
the sandhills by the sea glistening in the bright 
sunlight like mounds of gold-dust. Every leaf 
and stem in the scrub stood out in black and 
silver filigree; and euphorbias and adeniums, 
gouty and pompous above the lower growths. 


seemed like fantasies of gray on a Japanese 
screen covered with cerulean velvet. It was 
their last sight of Persia, and one not soon to be 

Our friends now settled down for a long hop, 
for they would have to fly all day and all night 
before reaching Colombo. 

After a while they sighted Socotra, the little 
isle off the coast of Cape Guardafui, from 
whence comes most of the world's supply of 
frankincense; then leaving its rocky shores be- 
hind them they cut straight across the Persian 
Sea, braving whatever tropical storm might 

All that day they swept over the blue waters 
of this great body, frequently seeing ships below 
and sometimes small islands. Toward night 
they ran into such hard headwinds that Bob 
went up higher. He climbed steadily until the 
Sky-Bird had attained an altitude of nine thou- 
sand feet. Here, as expected, they found the 
winds much less forceful, but the sea was blotted 
out entirely by the clouds through which they 
had passed in the process of rising and which 
now lay between. 

Indeed, these clouds resembled a billowy 
ocean of white foam in themselves, or a land- 
scape covered with hills and valleys of snow. 
The rounded cloud contours could easily be 


likened to the domes of snow-covered mountains. 
It was really difficult to conceive that that amor- 
phous expanse was not actually solid. Here 
and there flocculent towers and summits heaved 
up, piled like mighty snow dumps, toppling and 
crushing into one another, as the breezes stirred 

Then there were tiny wisps of cloud, more 
delicate and frail than feathers or the down of 
a dandelion-blow. Chasms hundreds of feet 
deep, sheer columns, and banks, extended almost 
be3'0nd eye-reach. Between the flyers and the 
sun stretched isolated towers of cumulus, cast 
up as if erupted by the chaos below. The sun- 
light, filtering through this or that gossamer 
bulk, was scattered into every conceivable shade 
and monotone. And around the margins of the 
heaving billows the sun's rays played unham- 
pered, unrestricted, outlining all with edgings 
of the purest silver. 

The scene was one of such extravagance that 
the brain was staggered with what the eye tried 
to register. Below the aviators, the shadow of 
their machine pursued them on white film like a 
grotesque gray bird of some supernatural region. 
The shadow followed tirelessly, gaining as the 
hour of noon approached, gaining still as after- 
noon began to gather, swell, and wane; and al- 
ways it skipped from crest to crest down there 


just below, jumping gulfs like a bewitched 

It was so cold at this height that the aviators 
were content to open the windows only a slight 
way for ventilation, 
had to put on their heaviest garments, and they 

When darkness fell, they were still flying 
high, though at reduced speed, as John was 
afraid that a rate too much over schedule might 
cause them to overrun their destination before 
daylight could disclose its outlines to them. 
Every half-hour the x^ilot's helper checked up 
their position on the chart. Had this not been 
done from the very start of the trip, they never 
could have struck their ports with the accuracy 
they did, and disaster v/ould have been the re- 
sult, if not death to the crew. 

As it was, they had taken every precaution 
they could. When they had crossed the At- 
lantic they had been careful to inflate the four 
spare inner tubes of their landing wheels, as 
these would make capital life-preservers in case 
the flyers were thrown into the sea ; and one of the 
last things they did before leaving Aden was to 
see that the tubes were still inflated. 

The long night passed with considerable 
anxiety on the part of Tom and John, but when 
dawn finally broke they felt like uttering a 
*'hurrah," and called Paul and Bob up from 


their sleep to witness the cheering sight ahead of 

At a distance of what must have been close 
to fifty miles, was a white patch in a haziness of 
green plain surrounded by hills and low moun- 
tains. The land itself was encircled by the sea, 
and when they saw a great peninsula spreading 
away to the northward, they knew that the 
island was Ceylon, and the other land the penin- 
sula of Hindustan. 

Somewhat off their course, they wheeled a 
little north. Soon details became apparent in 
the island. The white jDatch grew, developing 
into a considerable town — Colombo. 

They swept up and around it, then settled, 
and climbed stiffly out of the Sky-Bird not 
twenty yards from another airplane, about which 
four men in flying-suits had been working. 
These fellows looked toward the new arrivals 

But our flyers, overjoyed to think they had 
caught the Clarion's crew, only smiled back in- 



OUR friends had landed in the lowlands 
just to the north of Colombo, whose 
scattered buildings contained upwards 
of a hundred thousand inhabitants, most of 
whom were native Singhalese, descendants of 
the colonists who came from the valley of the 
Ganges and settled the island hundred years 
before the birth of Christ. To the southward 
arose the rocky headlands of the coast, and to the 
westward could be seen the somber peak of 
Pedrotallagalla, the highest mountain of the 
island. Numerous ships, some very crude and 
with queer sails, were in the harbor as the boys 
landed, and scores of natives in short skirts were 
loading and unloading these. Undoubtedly the 
huge square boxes which some of them carried 
aboard so easily upon their heads contained tea, 
for which Ceylon is famous. 

The person in charge of the landing-field here 
was a Mr. Young, an American clergyman con- 
j^ected with the local Baptist mission. This tall 



gentleman came forward, accompanied by the 
British governor of the island, within a few mo- 
ments after the flyers struck the ground. In 
fact, they were still stretching their cramped legs 
and arms when he greeted them and introduced 
the governor. Sir Henry Hurst. 

"Young men, I am more than delighted to 
shake hands with you," said the governor. "It 
looks as if you and the other crew over yonder 
were upon an epoch-making tour, for you are 
not ten minutes behind your schedule, as we 
have it in the London papers and also in our 
own Colombian newspaper. My only regret is 
that you do not represent England instead of 
America." He laughed good-naturedly as he 
made the last remark. 

"It was quite a task for the governor and 
myself to get up at this early hour to receive 
you, but the occasion is well worth the effort," 
observed Mr. Young, smiling. "Here we usu- 
ally sleep very late, often as late as nine o'clock. 
Even the Singhalese and Burghers are not yet 
generally up from their beds, though those who 
work at the wharves have appeared. If you had 
arrived a few hours later there would be thou- 
sands of the population here to see you." 

"We are well satisfied with the hour, then," 
said John. "The fewer natives we have around 
the Sky-Bird, the better we like it, both for 


working and taking off. How long has that 
other crew been in, sir?" 

"Not more than a half -hour. They are taking 
on their fuel now, being assisted by a couple o£ 
Burghers. They advised us that they would 
probably remain here until noon, being tired 
from their long flight from Aden. I don't kno^vi 
why, but the slender man with the dark skin 
and mustache particularly requested me to sea 
that you knew this intention of theirs." 

The flyers thought this was rather strange* 
Why should the Clarion's crew remain so long 
in Colombo, when their interests in the race de- 
manded as much time put into flying as possi- 
ble? It was still more incomprehensible whati 
object they would have in wishing the Sky- 
Bird's flyers to understand this intention, as by; 
so doing our boys could make their plans to gain) 
a heavy lead. 

It was too much of a puzzle for them to work: 
out, so Bob and Paul, aided by two Burghers 
(naturalized Europeans), went to work over- 
hauling the machine and storing fuel, while John) 
and Tom made their way into town with Sir 
Henry Hurst to transact their business. When 
they returned they found the two younger mem- 
bers of their crew in a heated discussion with the 
Clarion fellows. 

"What's the matter here, anyhow?" demand- 


ed John, as he and Tom pushed tlieir way; 
through the little ring of natives who had gather- 
ed about the principals. 

"It's just this way," said Pete Deveaux, with 
a grin meant to be very cool and indifferent, al- 
though his eyes roved uneasily: "We fellows 
were working on our machine here, minding our 
own business, when these two kids of yours came 
up and demanded to know why we had played 
you dirty at Freeto^vn and Kuka. They accused 
us of purposely carrying off your share of fuel 
at Freetown, and of stirring up the natives at 
Kuka so you couldn't make a safe landing." 

"We simply couldn't stand keeping quiet any 
longer, John," put in Paul very heatedly. "We 
thought it a good time to have it out with these 
fellows for their crookedness." 

"That's right; they're a bunch of snakes!" 
supported Bob, his cheeks red with excitement 
and anger, and his fists doubled menacingly. 

John turned to the slouching figures of the 
rival crew. "Do you fellows deny these 
charges?" he asked quietly. 

Grossman, Torrey, and Lane looked at their 
leader, merely shrugging their shoulders. Pete 
Deveaux took a quick glance in their direction, 
in turn. Then his face clouded a little darker, 
and he blurted out to his men: "You confound- 
ed babies, why don't you deny it? You know 


we didn't do anything on purpose to hold these 
guys back!" 

"That's right; we sure didn't/' said Sam 

"Of course not," added Chuck Grossman. 

"Wouldn't think of it/' interjected Oliver 

Our boys were disgusted by the cringing atti- 
tude of Pete Deveaux's cronies. Two of them 
were larger than the Frenchman, yet they seemed 
to be afraid of him. John saw that nothing 
was to be gained at this time by continuing the 
argument, so he pulled his comrades away with 
this parting and significant warning to their 
rivals: "Well, Deveaux, we'll let this drop now; 
but we certainly hope that you will take pains 
to see that nothing more of so strongly a sus- 
picious character occurs on this trip!" 

Pete Deveaux snarled back some answer 
which they could not make out. 

Our friends returned to the Sky-Bird. In a 
few minutes Bob, who had climbed on top of 
the fuselage to test the helium valves, came down 
and said: "Something new is going on over in 
our neighbor's yard, fellows. When I was up 
there I could see right over the natives' heads, and 
I noticed Chuck Crossman and Pete Deveaux 
hunting around the field till they found half-a- 
dozen rocks as big as a football, and they put 


these in the cabin of the Clarion. Wonder what 
on earth they intend to do with those?" 

''It's too hard a nut for me to crack," an- 
swered John. 

The others expressed equal inability to discern 
the purpose of their rivals, and the incident was 
soon forgotten. 

But twenty minutes later the faniiliar roar of 
a revolving airplane propeller greeted their ears, 
and they were surprised to observe the Clarion 
rising up over the field. They watched the ma- 
chine until it had disappeared in the cloud mists 
to the east. Then they awoke. 

All saw the game of their rivals now. By 
making the Sky-Bird's crew believe they did 
not intend to leave until noon, the latecomers 
would be inclined to take their time fitting up 
for the next hop, and this would give the Cla- 
rion's party a chance to make a sudden exit and 
gain a good lead before the others could get 
under way. 

There was no getting around it — Pete De- 
veaux was clever, if he were a rascal. This our 
friends had to admit to themselves, despite their 
dislike of the fellow. His methods of getting 
the best of them seemed to have no limit; and 
yet thus far they had been able to cling, by the 
hardest kind of work, right at his heels. This 
last trick was more honest strategy than De- 


veaux had exhibited before, and they could 
therefore adniire it iii that sense. They hoped 
that from now on his maneuvers might be as 
free from mahciousness. 

But their rivals had not fooled them as badly 
as they thought. Our flyers had lost no time 
upon landing in refitting, and when they saw the 
Clarion take off, they speeded up operations so 
fast that they were able to depart only fifteen 
minutes later. 

Almost straight eastward they headed, bear- 
ing just a little to the southward, so as to strike 
Singapore on a bee-line. They hoped to reach 
this stop some time before dark, which would give 
them approximately twelve hours' flying time. 
Under ideal weather conditions, they could make 
the journey in considerably less time, but it was 
the season for the well-known monsoons of the 
Indian Ocean, and it was quite unlikely that 
they would be able to wing their way across the 
fourteen hundred odd miles of sea without en- 
countering some of these deterrent trade-winds. 

It took them just an hour to cross the island 
of Ceylon, and flying at about fifteen hundred 
feet, they winged their way out over the white- 
caps of the ocean. To their unspeakable pleas- 
ure they found the winds not at all bad, and 
made good speed. Bob was at the throttle, Paul 


was observing, and John and Tom were sleep- 

They had been flying thus for perhaps two 
hours, when Paul saw that for which he had been 
keenly watching for some time. It was a faint 
black speck, like a tiny bird, against the blue 
of the heavens ahead of them. He continued 
to watch this silently, after calling his chum's 
attention to it, until, under an increase of 
speed, the Sky-Bird had drawn close enough for 
them to observe that it was what they suspected 
— an airplane. 

In another hour they were near enough to 
recognize in it the unmistakable outlines of the 
Clarion. To all appearences their rivals had 
also observed them, and were crowding on 
power, for now they gained much slower. Yet 
they still continued to narrow the breach between 
them, steadily, rod by rod, and minute by min- 
ute. They could see that the Clarion was not 
well handled, for she wavered in her flight con- 

"They'd be wise if they'd throw those rocks 
out which they took aboard," commented Paul. 
"That might help them to fly steadier." 

"They're flying all of a thousand feet higher 
than we are," said Bob. "We're going to pass 
under them, I think, in the next half -hour." 


That was the way matters looked. The 
Clarion was riding high, and was so close by 
this time that the windows in her cabin could be 
made out. Against those panels of glass our 
friends felt sure some of the rival crew were 
even at that moment pressing anxious faces as 
they watched the Sky-Bird steadily creeping up 
on them. 

It was such an auspicious moment that Paul 
went and aroused John and Tom, so that they 
could see the Sky-Bird overtake and pass her 
adversary. Those two worthies grumbled a 
whole lot for a few moments, being half asleep, 
but when they grasped the situation and saw the 
Clarion just ahead, they were as much interested 
as anybody. 

Slowly, surely the Skj^-Bird overtook the rival 
machine. When it seemed her nose was almost 
up to the tail of the Clarion, they saw a move- 
ment in the bottom of the fuselage of the craft 
above them, where her trapdoor of glass was 
situated in the floor of the cabin. Then something 
gray streaked down through the air. It went 
whizzing by just in front of the Sky-Bird, and a 
few moments later plunged into the sea with a 
great splash. 

*'Huckleberry pie!" ejaculated Tom Meeks, 
"one of their rocks has burst through their floor 
trap. Say, that was a close call for us 1" 


"Watch out! Here comes another!" cried 
Paul, as a second gray missile went by them on 
the other side. 

Barely had it struck the waters beneath, when 
a third rock came so close that they could feel 
the rush of air as it passed downward. It was 
as if they were being bombarded by an enemy 
above, who used great stones instead of explosives. 
Their faces paled when the truth struck them 
like a thunderbolt. With calm deliberation, 
deadly intent, and a skill born of dropping 
bombs on targets during the war, some of the 
fellows in the machine above were trying to 
wreck the Skj^-Bird with the rocks they had 
gathered in the field back in Ceylon! 

"Quick, Bob!" cried John to their pilot. 
"Swerve out from under these devils as fast as 
you can! If another stone comes down here, it 

The words he intended to say never were 
uttered. At that very moment another gray 
object streaked its way down through the heavens, 
whirling uglily. They thought sure it would 
strike the cabin roof and crash through, and in- 
tuitively they cowered back in the corners for 

But their speed carried the stone farther to 
the rear. There was a tearing, rending sound. 


Their faces blanched. And then Bob called 
out: "Hi, fellows, something's gone wrong! 
The Sky-Bird's bound to put her nose into the 
sea. The tail elevators don't workl" 



FILLED with the gravest fears for the 
safety of the Sky-Bird and themselves, 
all except Bob rushed to the rear win- 
dows of the cabin and looked out to see what 
had caused the ripping noise, and what could be 
wrong with the tail. 

Paul reached a point of vantage first. One 
swift look showed him the trouble. The left ele- 
vator had a big hole through it, made by the 
stone, fragments of silk showing all round the 
ragged gap. But this could not have caused 
the derangement of the steering controls en- 
tirely, and looking for a reason, Paul saw that 
the impact had caused the wire running to the 
right elevator to become twisted around a 
bracket near the end of the fuselage. Under 
this condition neither elevator could be controlled. 
With the good one held downward, it was 
no wonder that the airplane had started a stub- 
born, slow dive toward the ocean in spite of 
Bob's frantic efforts to work the lever normally 
effecting it. 

"Shut off your engine!" called Paul to Bob. 



*'That will hold us back. Three minutes of time 
I think will save us!" 

With the words, Paul seized the end of a long 
coil of rope which lay near, and fastened it 
about his waist. Both Bob and John saw what 
he meant to do. He would crawl out upon the 
fuselage and attempt to untangle the inactive 
control wire, freeing the now useless right ele- 
vating plane! 

It was a daring thing to do — a most perilous 
proceeding. But the older men knew that it 
was the only thing that could prevent them 
from plunging into the sea. So John threw 
open a window for his brother, the nimblest one 
of them, gave his hand a parting squeeze, and 
Paul climbed through. 

Paul never had realized as he did now how 
smooth that rounded body of the machine was, 
nor how strong the wind shot back along it 
when the machine was in flight. Although he 
clutched it with both arms and legs, and lay as 
close to it as he could press, he thought two or 
three times, as he made his v/ay out toward the 
tail, that he would be torn loose. He knew that 
his friends in the cabin, whom it might be he 
would never speak to again, were watching his 
progress with fear gripping their hearts, and 
were probably inwardly praying for his success 
with every breath. 


Finally the boy reached the tail. He dare not 
look down at the sea to see how much closer they 
were now, for the sight might unnerve him 
and prove disastrous to his purpose. So, glazing 
his vision to aU except his environs and intent, 
he wrapped his legs around the narrowing body 
of the machine, let go with his arms, and in a 
crouching posture seized the tangled wires. Two 
or three tugs and he had them free. He an- 
nounced this fact with as loud a yell as he could. 

Inmiediately afterward he heard his brother's 
voice. "Hang right there where you are, Paul! 
Don't try to come back until we get elevation 
again and I give you the word." 

He realized what this meant and looked down 
as he once more wrapped his arms around the 
fuselage, with his shoulders against the rudder 
bracket. What he saw was the restless sea less 
than two hundred feet below! Had Bob waited 
for him to attempt to crawl back into the cabin 
with the tail elevated, the Sky-Bird would have 
buried herself in the waters before he was half- 
way to his objective. They must now rise, if that 
were possible, to a good height; then Bob would 
slowly spiral the airplane downward and afford 
him a declining surface to work back upon. 

Luckily Paul's freeing of the right elevating 
plane, gave the pilot fairly good control over 
the machine, so Bob had no difficulty; m bring- 


ing the Sky-Bird into a rising swoop, although 
none too soon. Mounting at a good angle, but 
one which would not be likely to displace the 
youth clinging at the tail, he brought the air- 
plane up to two thousand feet. 

"Now, P^ul! Slide for it!" cried John, as the 
machine began a slow descent in a great circle. 

Paul then worked his way back like a crab, 
sliding a little, but not once allowing his ten- 
sioned limbs to relax to the danger point. Be- 
fore the airplane had come within five hundred 
feet of the sea, he felt his legs grasped in the 
strong hands of John and Tom, and the next 
moment they bad hauled him bodily through the 

"Ginger, Buddy, that was a close call for us 
— and you, too!" exclaimed John. "I hope I 
never see you in such a ticklish place again!" 

Paul sank into a seat. He was too exhausted 
to do anything but smile. When at last he 
could find his voice he asked, anxiously: "Can 
Bob control her all right now?" 

"Well enough to land us where we wish to 
go, he says," observed Tom. 

"That's right," put in Bob himself, who had 
overheard the conversation. "The Sky-Bird 
isn't what she was before that rock went through 
her, but if nothing worse happens we'll reach 
Singapore, though it will probably be somewhat 


later than our sweet friends in the other plane." 

"We can land at Sumatra, I think, if we have 
to make repairs before," ventured John. "We 
ought to cross the northern end of that island in 
the course of an hour." 

Searching the horizon for their rivals, tliey saw 
that, evidently satisfied with the mischief they 
had done, the Clarion crew had gone on at full 
speed, for they were now far ahead. 

"If I ever run onto Pete Deveaux again I 
believe I shall be angry enough to choke him till 
he's unable to speak his own name," declared 

"I'm afraid I'U have to help you at that job, 
Paul," cried Tom. "He's the most unprincipled 
scoundrel that ever went unhung." 

"You are right, Tom; Deveaux is a brute," 
said John. "His deviltry came near being the 
end of us. When we get home, we must see to 
it that he is punished as he deserves. But we 
must keep it out of the papers now, as it will look, 
in case we get beat, as if we wanted an excuse." 

John and Tom now resumed their hammocks 
and broken sleep, for they saw that, although the 
shattered tail elevator caused the Sky-Bird to 
ride roughly and at reduced speed, Bob and Paul 
could probably handle her all right from now on. 
The cross winds of the monsoon also hindered 
iheir progress a good deal, blowing erratically 


from different directions, but they plugged along 
at a pace slow enough to keep themselves within 
the zone of safety. 

A little later they came In sight of Sumatra, 
but as they were going fairly well, thought it 
best not to attempt a landing for repairs. So 
they crossed the northern tip of the island, and 
proceeded on over the Strait of Malacca. Some- 
time since, Paul had taken Bob's place at the 
throttle, and the latter had communicated with 
their destination by wireless, learning that the 
other airplane had arrived. 

It was twilight when they at last reached Sing- 
apore, and made a landing in the race-course in 
the outskirts of the town. By long odds this was 
the smallest island upon which they had so far 
stopped, but they found the city one of the busi- 
est. Their rivals had left fully two hours before. 

Now came the task of repairing the broken 
tail elevator. As the frame was undamaged, it 
was only necessary to straighten out a few bent 
supports and put new covering on. The British 
official at the field showed them where to 
purchase the necessary silk and glue, also a 
good waterproof varnish for coating the cover- 
ing. From his o^^n home he secured a pair 
of scissors with which to do the cutting, and John 
and Bob worked at the task, while Paul and Tom 
took on fuel and water and looked after other 


preparations for resuming their journey as soon 
as possible. 

During this process, Grandpa the monkey was 
permitted to come out of the cabin and entertain 
the crowd of onlookers wdth his antics, which he 
did to perfection, as he had done at other stops. 
To the ivory ring about his slender little waist, 
Paul always fastened a long thin rope, which he 
had bought in Para, when he let Grandpa out. 
This leash prevented him from wandering off, 
something nearly all unfettered monkeys will do 
if not watched very closely by their masters. Al- 
most any place seems to be home to a monkey, 
and almost any man seems to suit him for a 
temporary master. 

Grandpa himself delighted in running out 
upon the wings of the Sky-Bird at the stops. He 
pulled the control wires and made the ailerons 
swing up and down, which always raised a 
laugh among the crowds. Another favorite pas- 
time with him was to post himself in front of 
the reflector of the big searchlight up on the 
cabin, and make the most comical grimaces at his 
image on the polished reflector inside, sometimes 
uttering queer noises as if he were crying, and at 
other times chattering with the utmost anger at 
the phantom monkey, mixing these demonstra- 
tions up with wild dashes around behind the lamp 
to see if the mimicking animal were there. No 


matter what language the natives of each port 
might speak, they never failed to understand and 
appreciate these little sideshow comedies of 
Grandpa's. And when it would become noised 
about among them that this particular monkey- 
had traveled all the way from South America 
through the air with the "bird-men," their aw^e 
for him was amusing to behold. 



WITH three hundred gallons of gaso- 
line in her tanks, and her broken tail- 
elevator well repaired, the Sky-Bird 
was ready at eleven o'clock that evening to take 
off. Her crew were all tired out, but they knew 
they would soon be able to occupy the comfort- 
able seats or hammocks in the cabin for another 
long stretch of over-sea travel, for it would be 
morning before they would reach Port Darwin, 
Australia, their next stop. 

It had been raining very hard in Singapore 
just before they arrived, and the field was quite 
wet, with many puddles in the low spots. 
Through one or two of these they had had to run 
in landing, and it seemed that in hopping off 
they would be forced to do so again. Fortunate- 
ly the ground was sandy, so they had come to a 
stop in a spot not at all muddy, and had thus 
been able to work upon the machine without the 
discomforts of wading in slime while doing it. 

They now started the engine, Tom climbed in, 



and they were off, running over the soft ground 
at increasing speed. Then the airplane struck a 
pool of water, five or six inches deep, which almost 
pulled them up. It also held them back so that 
when the machine emerged it was going very 
little faster than at the beginning. The next 
patch of ground was a little longer, but they had 
not risen when they struck it at a rate of about 
twenty-five miles an hour. 

This pool was also quite deep, and the sudden 
resistance almost threw the Sky-Bird onto her 
nose. It did cause her to dip so that her long 
propeller struck the puddle, and immediately 
water and sand were sucked up and thrown in 
almost every direction by the swiftly revolving 
blades. Much of it reached the natives, who in 
two long rows of curious humanity, formed a lane 
for the passage of the craft, and many a poor 
fellow gave a howl and fell back against those be- 
hind, spluttering and rubbing grit and water 
from his face, while rivulets coursed down his 
dusky body amid the howls of laughter of his 

The flyers had only a fleeting glimpse of this 
amusing incident before they found the front 
windows of the cabin so covered with the deluge 
of spray that they could scarcely see ahead. Two 
of them quickly opened the portals, for a grave 
danger menaced them. 


Less than sixty yards ahead was the lower 
fence of the field, and just back of this arose scrub 
trees and houses, with no opening between which 
could be utilized. They must clear these for- 
midable obstacles, looming bigger every second, 
and the distance was alarmingly short, for the 
last pool had again retarded their momentum to 
such an extent that they had just barely stag- 
gered through it. 

Picking up speed once more at every turn of 
her propeller, the Sky-Bird shot down the last 
stretch of ground reaching to the fence. How 
fast this obstruction loomed up! Just in the 
nick of time the airplane left the ground. They 
sailed over the tops of trees and houses so close 
that the wheels of their landing-gear almost 
scraped. It was one of the finest maneuvers of 
the whole voyage, and the boys praised John so 
for his good piloting that he had to ask them to 

After a wide sweep above Singapore, they 
headed for the open water, which in this case hap- 
pened to be South China Sea. 

The weather was very threatening. Dark- 
looking clouds began to efface the moon and 
stars, whose light had aided in the take-off at 
Singapore, and within fifteen minutes occasional 
flashes of sheet-lightning could be seen far ahead, 
throwing into relief the immense bulk of the fore- 


boding clouds and shedding a pallid gleam over 
the sea. Occasionally a light zephyr came out of 
the east, but it would last only a moment. 

"We ought to be just about over the equator 
now," announced John a little later. 

Paul and Bob had stayed up on purpose to 
witness this event, and by dead reckoning had 
computed their position so closely that John's 
announcement had come just as they were about 
to make a similar statement. Although they 
could see no "line" stretching along down there 
in the sea, they fancied they could, with the most 
pleasant imagery. That great line, the belt of 
the universe, dividing the Northern and Southern 
hemispheres, they had already crossed once, in 
their zigzagging course, at the mouth of the 
Amazon. Now here in the South China Sea they 
were crossing it a second time. At no time had 
they been more than thirteen degrees away from 
it. One more crossing of it, if all went well, and 
they would be almost within sight of the end of 
their journey — Panama! 

With this pleasant thought Bob and Paul 
rolled up in their hammocks, trusting John and 
Tom to bring them safely through the bad 
weather that seemed in store, and were soon 

To the two older flyers, used to all conditions 
of aerial passage as a result of several years' ex- 


perience, the present conditions were not at all 
terrifying. Although the spectacle of the dark 
clouds in front of them was extremely uncanny, 
they realized that they were only local thunder 
showers which could probably be avoided by a 
little careful navigating. 

In this they were right. By wheeling a little 
out of their course, to the left or right, and by 
flying up ovcx one big cloud which could not be 
avoided in any other manner, they managed to 
dodge the most dangerous fields of lightning and 
the worst torrents of rain. 

Presently they left the dark clouds far behind, 
and once more the stars appeared in the blue 
firmament above and the pale moon lit up the 
tropical sea. 

With relief John guided the Sky-Bird lower, 
so that they could keep a sharp lookout for guide- 
posts of land. They passed several small islets 
which w^ere uncharted with them, but when, about 
midnight, they made out a great black blotch not 
far ahead, they recognized it as the southern end 
of the island of Borneo, and knew they were all 

In a little while Borneo was sweeping along 
below them, its mangroved shores gloomy and 
desolate-looking, not to say wierd, in the pale 
moonlight. Among those dense forests and 
thickets the flyers knew many a wild animal was 


prowling at that very moment, and in the 
thatched huts in the glens slept many a fierce- 
visaged savage with weaj)ons close at hand. 

Toward morning the flyers observed a volcano 
in active eruption off to the southeastward, ap- 
parently on the island of Timor. It was a beau- 
tiful sight, so wonderful that John awoke the 
slee]3ers, that they too might enjoy it. Fantastic 
lights of various colors shot upward from the 
crater. These shafts lit up billowing clouds of 
smoke and ashes, which j)oured out in awe-in- 
spiring volume. Back of it all stood the dark- 
blue velvet sky, against which the pyrotechnics 
were embossed in a stunning manner. Man could 
never have wished to witness a more remarkable 
manifestation of nature than did the young avia- 
tors, as they viewed the spectacle from their own 
favored position in the air. 

Swiftly the Sky-Bird drew them toward the 
volcano, for it v/as directly in their course. As 
they approached, they could see flames licking 
their way upward from the dark mass of rock 
constituting the shaft, and could make out 
streams of lava pouring over the sides of the 
crater, going down into the unknown blackness 
below. What a sight it was! How their pulses 
beat! How their hearts quickened! 

But now, very unexpectedly, the sight was 
shut out. Thin, pungent, volcanic smoke and 


ash began to surround them. In a few moments 
it was so thick that they grew alarmed. All had 
the same fearful thought — 

If this should continue a little while, they would 
lose their bearings, and might run right into the 
fountain of fire itself! 

This was a terrifying possibility, for it would 
mean a horrible death to every one of them. 
Fireproof though the airplane was in the general 
sense of the word, every one of those in her cabin 
knew that if they should ever pass thi'ough those 
licking flames, the great heat in them would 
fairly melt the light structure of the machine in 
the twinkling of an eye. No metal or wood could 
withstand that terrible blast a moment, much 
less human flesh. 

It is small wonder, therefore, that Tom now 
sent the Sky-Bird off to the right, and higher, 
also. They closed the windows, to keep out the 
foul smells, and anxiously awaited developments. 
They could not see a yard in front of them, so 
thick were the smoke and gases. It was a trying 

Fortunately Tom had taken the best course he 
could. Five minutes passed — ten minutes — fif- 
teen — and then the air began to clear. Slowly 
the curtain lifted; and presently looking back, 
they saw that they had passed the volcano and 
were leaving it and the island well behind. 


Its fires, too, seemed to be burning out. Only 
a few forks of ghostly light were coming up 
from the crater. These grew fainter and fainter, 
and in a little while the eruption seemed to have 
entirely subsided, for Timor was swallowed up 
once more in the impenetrable mantle of night. 



SHORTLY after five o'clock the next after- 
noon, Paul saw ahead and to port what 
appeared to be haze, but which he and Tom 
hoped was the coastline of Australia. Ten min- 
utes later the observer joyfully pointed out to the 
pilot unmistakable evidence of an island upon 
which stood a tall object — Bathurst Island light- 

John and Tom were routed out, and all saw 
the rugged outline of the great island — a con- 
tinent itself, as large as the United States and 
much the same shape — stretching away to the 
southward and slowly dwindling into low, sandy, 
barren shores as it went. 

Less than forty minutes later they were circling 
over Port Darwin, on the northwest corner of 
the continent, while a good-sized crowd of people 
down below pointed excitedly uj^ward. The 
flyers soon made out the landing-field by reason 
of its white marker, and swooped gracefully 
down, while those below cheered. 

Two zealous customs officials were anxious to 



examine the new arrivals, also a health officer; 
but this did not take long, and during the process 
they were able to converse pleasantly with Mr. 
Seth Partlow, the British official in charge of 
the field, also with the mayor of Darwin, who 
gave them the most cordial welcome. 

They were sorry to learn that Pete Deveaux 
and his flyers had departed less than a half -hour 
before their own arrival; but they had been ex- 
pecting such a report owing to the fact that they 
had been left so far behind at Singapore. They 
now determined to hurry up refitting operations, 
and leave at the first opportunity, hot upon the 

Messages were dispatched to Mr. Giddings at 
Panama and to his newspaper in New York; 
and another roll of films containing numerous in- 
teresting views taken that morning just before 
and after landing, were mailed in to the Daily 

Here, for the first time, they were able to se- 
cure a paper containing accounts of their own and 
their rival's passage. It was a novel experience 
to read these glowing descriptions of incidents 
still fresh in their minds — descriptions which had 
in some cases flown by wire, in others by air- 
waves, from point to point, more than half-way 
around the world. It provoked thoughts which 
made them marvel at the wonderful ingenuity 


and power of the very equipment which they 
were using themselves every chance they could 
get — their wireless telegraph and telephone sets. 
The remarkable news-gathering efficiency of the 
world, the coordination of agencies in gathering 
and disseminating news, was astounding to con- 

The mayor of the town insisted upon the boys 
partaking of dinner at his home near by, and 
they thankfully agreed to do this when Mr. Part- 
low declared he would personally see to the fill- 
ing of the Sky-Bird's tanks, for which task he 
had plenty of assistants. 

They were most cordially received by the 
mayor's wife. Within fifteen minutes they had 
the satisfaction of sitting down to one of the 
most satisfying meals they had ever had. N"ot 
only was everything well cooked, but there was 
a great variety of viands. They were all par- 
ticularly impressed with the toothsomeness of the 
meat which the maid served, so much so that Paul 
could not refrain from remarking: "Mr. Bailey, 
I never ate sweeter chicken than that." 

"No, I don't believe you ever did," laughed 
the mayor. "The fact is, young man, that is not 
domestic chicken at all. It is the flesh of the 
brush-turkey, a wild fowl which the bushmen or 
blackfellows bring in here to market. It is a 
great delicacy." 


''I have read of these bushmen," said Bob. 
"Are they quite wild?" 

"Indeed they are," the mayor repHed. "The 
blackfellow is, I beheve, on the lowest rung of 
civilization. He is unlike the negro, the Malay, 
the Mongohan, and the American Indian, in 
many ways. If you could stay a few days, I 
would be glad to take you back in the bush and 
show you a few specimens in their native state. 
They have a long skull, with a low, fiat forehead. 
Their brows overhang deep-set, keen eyes, and 
they have a heavy lower jaw, with teeth as strong 
as a dog's. Their hair is generally wavy or curly, 
being usually auburn or black in color. As a 
rule their faces are almost hidden by beards and 
whiskers, which they never comb and which, like 
the hair on top of their heads, are always in a 
beautiful tangle." 

"How do they dress, sir?" asked Paul. 

This brought another laugh from Mr. Bailey. 
"That doesn't worry them in the least!" he de- 
clared. "Most bushmen are covered from head 
to foot with hair, and I imagine they think this 
is a good enough uniform, for they wear nothing 
except what nature gave them. In bad weather, 
however, they do add some artificial protection 
to their tough bodies by making a rough wrap 
out of the skin of a kangaroo or a piece of flexi- 
ble bark. Some tribes use rushes and seaweed 


for this purpose, while others make a blanket 
from the dried frog scum of the swamps and 
ponds. For boats, pieces of eucalyptus bark, 
folded and tied at the ends and daubed with clay, 
suit them very well. They are too lazy to dig 
out the trunk of a tree for a canoe, like the natives 
of most other countries." 

"Do these blackfellows live in huts?" asked 

"That's where their laziness manifests itself 
again," said the mayor, smiling. "The blackfel- 
low has no permanent dwelling. His shelter is 
a cave or overhanging rock, as an animal might 
select one ; sometimes it is only a large section of 
bark which he tears from a tree, and under which 
he walks or squats in storms or lies at night." 

"Back in the States," remarked Tom, "we hear 
much about the skill of these fellows with the 
boomerang. I dare say a lot of these stories are 

"Possibly," said their host, "and yet it is a fact 
that these natives are undoubtedly more adept at 
casting various forms of wooden implements than 
any other people in the world. Their very in- 
dolence leads them to adopt all sorts of easy- 
made weapons, and wood is surely one of the 
most common materials for the purpose one could 
find. Clubs of all kinds are hurled at prey or 
human enemies. Among these the boomerang 


is a favorite. They have several forms. One 
type is very light, round on one side and fiat 
on the other, and slightly twisted on its axis. It 
is used almost entirely for play, though some- 
times to hurl at flocks of birds in the sky. The 
war and hunting boomerangs are much heavier; 
they are bent differently, and do not return to 
the thrower, but are a deadly weapon in the 
hands of these bushmen at ranges up to four 
hundred feet. But stone-pointed spears are 
their chief weapons." 

"With this skill I presume they have no trouble 
in securing enough to eat," suggested Paul, 
sipping his cocoa. 

"On the contrary, there are times when weather 
conditions, such as drouth, make it a very diffi- 
cult matter for some tribes to get sufficient food. 
Then they will turn to human flesh, and will eat 
men who have fallen to their weapons, or their 
own tribesmen who have succumbed to disease or 
hunger. Even infants are sometimes kifled and 
eaten by their parents." 

"Horrible!" cried the flyers. This seemed al- 
most incredible, with civilization in abundance so 

"I agree with you," said Mr. Bailey, faihng 
to notice his wife holding up a protesting finger 
toward him. "Of course the blackfellow prefers 


to have other foods when he can get them. The 
kangaroo, wallaby, and opossum, form his chief 
food supply, but no animal or nourishing plant 
is neglected. He even eats ants, caterpillars, 
moths, beetles, grubs, snakes, lizards, often un- 
cooked " 

At that point Mr. Bailey felt a sharp twist of 
his ear, and looking up, found his wife gazing 
at him with a very severe expression. 

"Thomas Bailey! You are a cannibal yourself! 
Where is your sense of propriety? Have you 
lost your head in your interest in this subject? 
Don't you know you are eating? — that you have 
guests here who are also eating?" 

"Myl my! Goodness gracious!" ejaculated 
their host, in a great fuss. "Young men, I was 
not thinking. Will you ever pardon me for this 
transgression of etiquette?" 

The flyers smilingly hastened to assure both 
their friends that they had not lost their appetites 
in the least; that they really had enjoyed every 
morsel of food and information passed out. They 
remained to chat long enough to convince the 
lady and gentleman of this fact, and then took 
their departure. They had actuallyspent a most 
entertaining hour, one which they would not have 
missed for a good deal. 

At eight-fifty local time the Sky-Bird took off 


for her long hop to Apia, principal city of Upolu, 
an island of the Samoan group. It was the be- 
ginning of their long flight across the big Pacific, 
an ocean so wide, so fraught with perils, that 
no aircraft had ever before attempted to nego- 
tiate it. Some eight thousand miles away over 
those great w^aters lay Panama, their goal. 
Would they reach it ahead of their rivals ? Would 
they reach it within their schedule of ten days? 

To these two queries in their minds, our stout- 
hearted young friends answered doggedly and 
determinedly, "Yes !" Fortune might frown upon 
them, it is true; but if so they would face her 
smilingly, with confidence, with that pertinacity 
for which Americans are famous, and try to make 
her look pleasant, too ! They felt that they must 
win; that they would win. And yet they left 
Port Darwin handicapped by being fully three 
hours behind their rivals. 

As they wheeled over the town the}^ waved a 
last farewell to the hundreds below, whose forms 
they could just make out in the fast-gathering 
darkness. Then, turning off straight east, they 
flew over the dark-green canopy of eucalyptus 
forests of fertile Arnhem Land, and crossed the 
Gulf of Carpentaria in the full darkness of the 
night. When they passed over Cape York 
peninsula, Tom was at the throttle, and the 
younger boj^s had been asleep for a number of 


hours. They had now left the whole continent 
of Australia behind them, and were facing the 
broad wastes of the Pacific. 

Their perils had begun in earnest. Should 
anything happen to cause them to be forced 
down, there was nothing but a vast basin of 
water miles deep to catch them, and there would 
not be one chance in a thousand that they would 
survive. This, surely, was no place and no time 
for engines to fail or steering apparatus to go 
wrong. Yet each flyer was ready for such a mis- 
hap — attested by the mute evidence of an inflated 
rubber tube about his waist. Even Bob and 
Paul slumbered on the airy contrivances. 

Fortunately the weather was ideal. It is true 
that headwinds blew mildly and insistently, 
causing some bumpiness, but the night was 
calm and starry, and with the engine running 
close to full-out, they saw that they were making 
up lost time very fast. 

When morning broke, and Paul took the 
throttle, fair skies looked down upon their skim- 
ming bird, and the sea was bathed in brilliant 
sunshine. Bob wirelessed Sydney their position 
about noon. He made no attempt to get Apia, 
because he knew there was no telegraph or radio 
station there. 

Flying low, early in the afternoon they passed 
close enough to the Vanikord islands to see hordes 


of natives watching them from the coral shores. 
Numerous smaller islets, gems set in the ultra- 
marine blue of the sea, were also passed within 
the next hour. Gulls, ospreys, and other swift- 
winged seabirds sailed about these pretty out- 
croppings of the mighty deep, and sometimes 
the creatures came after the Sky-Bird with shrill 
cries of challenge, only to be quickly left behind. 

Once more the shades of night fell, and once 
more John took the destinies of the airplane in 
hand. For a time Bob and Paul worked on re- 
ports, then played with Grandpa, who in such 
tedious spells of flying as this was a never-ending 
source of entertainment to all. Nine o'clock 
found them in their hammocks, hoping that when 
they opened their eyes again it would be to see 
the welcome shores of their destination. 

Nor in thisihope were they to be disappointed. 
It seemed they had no sooner fell asleep when 
they were aroused by a hand shaking them and 
the voice of John saying: "Come on, you sleepy- 
heads ! Rout out here and have a look at what's 
ahead I" 

Having their clothes still on — so that they 
might be ready for an emergency at any time of 
the night — the two chums were up to the windows 
about as soon as John himself. The latter had 
raised two of these a short time before, and the 
boys shoved their heads through to take a look. 


It was broad day. Light, fleecy clouds cov- 
ered the heavens to the southeast, but in the blue 
between a huge rift the sun shone down be- 
nignly. And in its bright rays they could count 
nine islands and islets, sprinkled here and there 
like emeralds in a sparkling sheet of mother-of- 
pearl. It needed only a glance at the chart to 
tell them that these were the Samoan group, and 
a little searching also told them that the nearest 
large one was Upolu. 

In less than another hour they were circling 
above the beautiful island of their choice, directly 
over the little town of Apia, which nestled in the 
center of a luxuriant forest of palms and other 
tropical trees. A number of boats and sailing 
vessels were in the harbor, and on board these as 
well as on the ground hundreds of people were 
looking up aloft and waving a w^elcome. 

Now our flyers saw what they really were most 
concerned about — a T made of white stones in an 
open spot by the beach. And in that field they 
also saw something else they were very glad to 
witness. This was the airplane of their rivals. 

They had caught up with them at last! 



THERE was a wild scamper of natives as 
our flyers came down upon the smooth, 
hard sands of the beach. In this opera- 
tion they had to use the utmost care to avoid 
striking the machine of their contemporaries, but 
it was accomplished without mishap, and the Sky- 
Bird came to a stop about seventy feet from the 

They were immediately surrounded, at a very 
respectable distance, by a cordon of Samoans. 
These were splendid-looking fellows. Their 
dusky bodies were strong and stalwart, and their 
faces were intelligent-looking. It was plain to 
be seen that they had not the slightest hostile 
intentions toward the aviators. On the contrary 
their features expressed clear friendliness, al- 
though it was obvious that their experience with 
the Clarion was still too fresh to eradicate their 
natural timidity of such a strange thing as an 

Our friends were very stiff and cramped from 
their long ride from Port Darwin. It seemed 



so good now to be able to stretch their limbs, to 
feel solid ground once more under their feet, and 
to see the blue sky all around their heads ! 

The morning was hot, but a cool breeze blew 
inshore, giving a delightful freshness to the air. 
Near at hand were rows of native huts, made of 
poles and bark, and back of these loomed fine 
groves of cocoanut trees and other tropical vegeta- 
tion in the richest profusion. Even the elevations 
of this volcanic island had their barrenness al- 
leviated by growths of greenery which seemed 
entirely to cover them. 

No sooner had the boys sprung out of the ma- 
chine than three white men approached them. 
These introduced themselves as Mr. Plusson, in 
charge of the local mission; Mr. Hart, a British 
trader; and Mr. Shoreman, the American trader 
who had been engaged to look after their fuel 
at this airport. These gentlemen expressed the 
liveliest cordiality in their welcome, and Mr. 
Plusson plead so hard for them to accompany 
him to his home and join him and his wife at 
breakfast that they consented. 

They learned that their rivals had arrived about 
twenty minutes before. Ever since the dastardly 
attempt of Pete Deveaux and his crowd to wreck 
the Sky-Bird in the Indian Ocean, our flyers had 
been greatly incensed at them, or rather at Pete 
Deveaux himself, for they had no doubt but that 


it was he who had instigated the attack. Paul 
Ross was particularly inflamed at the French 
aviator's act, and had more than once declared 
since, that the first time they met Deveaux again 
he was going to thrash him until he begged for 
mercy. This was rather a bold statement for 
Paul to make, since he was but a youth of eighteen 
while Pete Deveaux must have been close to 
thirty; but the lad was strong and skillful with 
his fists, in addition to which his resentment was 
just. When justice is on one's side it goes a long 
way toward giving that person staying powers 
in any contest against wrong. 

For these reasons, when Paul now declared that 
he could not bear to wait another minute before 
taking Pete Deveaux to account, his chums made 
no attempt to dissuade him, except in the matter 
of time. John pulled him aside, so that explana- 
tions would not have to be made to their new 
acquaintances, and asked him to defer the matter 
until after they should have had breakfast, to 
which Paul reluctantly agreed. 

When they once more reached the field, it was 
to see their rivals also just arriving. Without 
further ado, Paul walked straight up to Pete 
Deveaux and said: "Deveaux, why did you drop 
those rocks down on us back there when we were 
overhauling you between Colombo and Singa- 


The Frenchman's face paled visibly. He did 
not like the look in Paul's eye, nor the stern 
countenances of his friends. But he hoped to 
bluff his way through. 

"Why accuse me of anything like this?" said 
he, trying to look surprised and hurt. "We had 
nothing to do with those stones falling. Their 
weight broke the catch off of the glass trap, and 
they went through before we could stop them; 
didn't they, guys?" He turned to his three flyers 
for support. 

Grossman, Torrey, and Lane nodded their 

"Sure," averred Grossman. 

"What did you have those stones on board 
for?" demanded John. 

The Glarion men were silent. Their leader 
was the first to reply. 

"We got some kola nuts from the natives at 
one of our stops, and wanted the stones to crack 
them with," stated Deveaux. 

"It's a lie!" accused Paul. "Stones do not ac- 
cidentally fall as straight as those did. Pete De- 
veaux, you and your crowd did the best you 
could to wreck us, and I'm going to take it out 
of your hide right now!" 

"Oh, you are, are you?" sneered the French 
aviator. "It seems to me I'll have something to 
say about that, you young whippersnapper ! If 


these friends of yours will keep out of this, I'll 
promise my boys will keep out, and I'll give you 
all the show you want." 

"Fair play; that's right!" cried Mr. Shore- 
man, stepping forward. He had heard enough 
to convince him that nothing but a fistic settle- 
ment of the controversy would be adequate, and, 
with the help of several white traders and sailors, 
he formed a ring. 

Like lightning the word went out, and scores 
of natives came running up to see the encounter. 
An affair of this kind just suited their primitive 
instincts ; it was even a greater treat than seeing 
an airplane land upon their fair island. 

So by the time that Paul and Pete Deveaux 
had thrown off their coats, a great ring of natives 
surrounded them, and in its front were numerous 
whites from the ships in the harbor. 

Pete Deveaux was inwardly very nervous, al- 
though he was careful not to show it. Had Paul 
not been so much younger, Deveaux would prob- 
ably have made some excuse to back out of the 
fight. As it was, he had a sneaking ho^De of get- 
ting the better of Paul, now that the youth's 
friends had agreed not to interfere. He also 
hoped to injure the boy so badly in the encounter 
that he could not take his turn operating the Sky- 
Bird for the rest of the journey; at least, cripple 


him enough to delay his party in getting away 
from the island. 

With these evil intents the French flyer con- 
ceived still another. He stepped aside and whis- 
pered something in Chuck Grossman's ear, then 
came back and faced Paul. 

Mr. Shoreman gave the signal, and Pete De- 
veaux feinted and shot his other fist savagely at 
Paul's eye. But the boy was wary, dodged the 
blow, and struck his adversary a hard one in the 
chest. For a moment Deveaux was staggered; 
but he quickly recovered, and once more sprang 

]\Iissing with his right, he succeeded in hitting 
Paul in the shoulder with his left. Wheeling like 
a flash, Paul shot out a fist before the Frenchman 
could recover his guard, and struck him a smash 
under the ear which sent him reeling back into 
his friends. 

Pete Deveaux was now thoroughly alarmed. 
He had not expected such science, nor such 
force, on the part of his opponent. He ap- 
proached Paul with much more caution, amid the 
howls of the natives, and decided to let him take 
the offensive, 

Paul was willing. Encouraged by his suc- 
cess thus far, and bent upon ending the fracas 
as soon as possible, he met his adversary with a 


heavy swing which just cleared the man's ear. 
Deveaux struck, but missed also. Pressed back- 
ward, he clinched to save himself, and in this posi- 
tion, where nobody could see his movements, he 
viciously tried to put some short jabs into Paul's 

Fortunately for himself Paul succeeded in 
breaking away before he was doubled up by the 
blows, one of which had landed with sufficient 
power to make him utter an involuntary smoth- 
ered exclamation of pain. 

"No more of that, Mr. Deveaux!" warned the 
referee suspiciously, as Paul shoved his oppo- 
nent back. "Keep out of the clinches! Fight 

"Fair! Fair!" yelled the sailors; and the na- 
tives took up the cry in their own language. 

Paul now advanced, and Pete Deveaux re- 
treated. The latter was really frightened. 
Something was beginning to tell him that in this 
youth of eighteen he had met his superior. 

"I think we'd better quit, Ross, before we 
hurt each other," suggested the French flyer 
eravenly. "This flight business of ours won't 
stand such delays as this. We can have this out 
when we land in Panama." 

"No, we can't have it out in Panama!" cried 
Paul. "Stand up if you're a man and settle this 
thing right now. Watch out; I'm coming!" 


By this time Pete Deveaux had retreated to 
the lower end of the improvised ring. He saw 
that he was cornered; that he must fight once 
more. Lunging foward Uke a trapped rat, he 
struck a wicked blow for his opponent's head. 

Paul parried it, and as swift as a stroke of 
lightning his right hand streaked out and caught 
Deveaux under the jaw. The Frencliman reeled 
backward a few steps, and toppled over, full 
length upon the ground. What a cry went up 
from the onlookers! By this time the sympathies 
of every one, except Deveaux's own comrades, 
were with the youth. No one, even a half-civil- 
ized savage, at heai-t likes a coward. 

For a few moments Pete Deveaux was dazed. 
But after his cronies had helped him to his feet, 
and started away with him, he still had enough 
spite left to shout back, as he shook a fist: 
"We're not done with you fellows yet!" 

Paul was now the recipient of congratulations 
from all sides. Everybody wished to slap him 
on the shoulder or shake hands with him, it seemed, 
and the native populace gave him so many 
cocoanuts, bananas, and pineapples that he was 
literally hemmed in with fruit, and John, Bob, 
and Tom had to open up a pathway before he 
could get out of his sweet-smelhng barricade. 

Our flyers put as much of the gifts in the cabin 
of the Sky-Bird as they could find room for, in- 


eluding an abundance of nuts for the happy 
Grandpa, and then they turned their attention 
to the pressing business of overhauHng the en- 
gines and storing fuel. 

While they were thus engaged, the Clarion's 
motor was heard to start ; and a few moments later 
she arose and took off to sea. 

"Humph!" ejaculated Tom, "those fellows 
have beat us to it again." 

"They ought to; didn't they arrive anead of 
us?" asked Tom. 

"We'll be out of here in fifteen minutes more," 
stated John. 

But the words were no more than out of his 
mouth when Paul, who had been inspecting the 
rear end of the machine came dashing excitedly 
forward, crying: 

"Fellows, hob is to pay! Those rascals have 
cut the wire braces that support the tail-skid, and 
it's lopping away over!" 



PAUL'S announcement threw his friends 
into a state of consternation. As they 
viewed the wire braces, neatly cut with a 
pair of nippers, they recalled Pete Deveaux's act 
of whispering in the ear of one of his party just 
preceding the recent fight, and realized now its 
full import. This fellow had slunk out of the 
crowd, slipped over to the unguarded airplane, 
and performed the unprincipled trick without 
any risk of being caught at it. 

Since there was no chance for immediate re- 
dress from the guilty j)arty, who were almost out 
of sight to the eastward, all our flyers could do 
was to bend every effort to make repairs as fast 
as possible. After considerable skirmishing 
around, they managed to secure some wire from 
one of the vessels in the harbor. The severed 
strands were then removed and new pieces cut 
to length. 

It was found that the weight of the macnine 
upon the unsupported skid, had cracked the skid 
past repair; so they had to whittle out another 



from some tough wood, which the natives brought 
them from the nearby forest, before they could 
connect the new wires and were ready to start. 

Finally they took off at a few minutes past 
noon, more than three hours behind their rivals. 
It was disheartening, to say the least — all the 
more so on account of the fact that their delay 
had again been caused by the sinister acts of the 
other crew. They made up their minds that if 
they should meet Pete Deveaux and his crowd at 
another stop, something worse than a single fistic 
encounter would take place! 

As they soared away toward Nukahiva, with 
Upolu growing constantly dimmer, John, who 
had been studying the schedule, turned to his 
companions and asked: 

"Do any of you fellows know what date this 

"Let's see," mused Bob, at the throttle; "we 
left Port Darwin the evening of the 26th; the 
evening of the 27th we were still at sea, and the 
next morning — the 28th — " 

"You're ahead of time just one day," laughed 
John. "This is the 27th of the month." 

"How do you make that out?" asked Bob. 
"Didn't we leave Port DarAvin on the 26th?" 

"Yes," admitted John. 

"And the following evening we were at sea?" 

"Granted. That was last evening — ^the 27th." 


"Then any dunce can see that to-day is the 
28th," said Bob witheringly. 

"That's what I say, too," supported Paul. 

But John only laughed harder, and this time 
Tom joined him. 

"John's right," said Tom; "to-day is the 27th." 

"It can't be," protested Bob. "You own up 
that yesterday was the 27th, don't you?" 

"I certainly do," chuckled John; "but you 
forget one thing, young man: that same eve- 
ning, all in a moment's time, we crossed the One 
Hundred and Eightieth Meridian — the date-line 
of the world— and while it was Thursday, the 
27th on the west side of this line, it became Wed- 
nesday, the 26th the instant we crossed over to 
the east side." 

"Oh, surel" exclaimed Bob and Paul, feeling 
very silly. And the latter added : "That's where 
we gain a day in our lives — and to think that Bob 
and I were asleep at that auspicious moment !" 

"I know an old maid who swears she is fifteen 
years younger than she really looks," commented 
Tom. "I think she must have done a lot of globe 
trotting, and always east!" 

"There's no danger of the fair sex ever circling 
the globe in a westerly direction," laughed John, 
"for that would make them one day older every 

The day could not have been better. Hardly 


a cloud was to be seen on the horizon, and the 
regular trade-winds blowing westward were soft 
and steady, and they were making excellent time. 

Grandpa frisked about, perching on this object 
and that, and occasionally running back into 
some secret nook where he had hidden his supply 
of nuts. With one of these in his paw he would 
jump up on something, crack it in his powerful 
small jaws, and look very wise and serious as he 
picked out the meats with his slim fingers. 

Finally the monkey had his fill, and hopped up 
into Tom's lap. He began to play with Tom's 
hair, smoothing it down pretty soon with the 
flyer's comb, which he discovered in a pocket. So 
handy was Grandpa with this utensil that the 
others went into peals of laughter. Tiring of 
this, the monkey's eye caught sight of several 
freckles upon the back of Tom's hand. He tried 
in vain to pick the freckles off; then he became 
excited, for he could not understand why they 
would not lift up. He chattered scoldingly at 
everybody; then tried again. Failing, he sprang 
down and went to a far corner, in a fine sulk. 
Evidently he thought Tom was playing a trick 
on him, and had glued the freckles down some- 
way just to tease him; for Tom, it must be ad- 
mitted, was greatly given to bothering Grandpa 
in some such manner. 

Shortly before ten o'clock the following morn- 


ing all hands were up to take a look at their next 
stopping-oif place — Nukahiva, the main island of 
the Marquesas group, the place where they hoped 
to find a supply of helium-gas awaiting them. 

A fine island this — as fine a volcanic upheaval 
as one will find anywhere. Sheer walls of cloud- 
capped rock 6,000 feet high, some literally over- 
hanging the crystal-clear water, and all embossed 
and engraved with strangely patterned basalt. 
There are pillars, battlements, and turrets; so 
that, with half -closed eyes, it seems you are ap- 
proaching a temple, a medieval castle, or a 
mosque of the East. And the valleys — deep, 
choked with the most rampant growths of lux- 
uriant vegetation, in the heart of which silvery 
streams gurgle their way tortuously along — fade 
away into mysterious purple mists. Small won- 
der that this gorgeously beautiful island should 
have been the home for a century of one of the 
finest races of primitive people the world has 
ever known! Sad indeed is it that to-day the 
Marquesans are rapidly dying off from consump- 
tion and fever introduced into their fair domain 
by civilization itself. 

Nestling in a good-sized valley near the har- 
bor our fl3^ers saw scores of native houses, as they 
drew nearer. These were constructed of yellow 
bamboo, tastefully twisted together in a kind of 
wickerwork, and thatched with the long tapering 


leaves of the palmetto. Here, too, was the big 
white T of their hopes. 

In a short time they had safely landed, one hour 
behind schedule. Their rivals had left an hour 
and ten minutes before. But joy of joys! here 
were four tanks of helium, and with a filling of 
this they would show those fellows how to fly! 

As fast as they could work, our friends over- 
hauled their machine and put it in shape for the 
long trip to San Christobal. They would have 
given almost anything to have joined the many 
natives they saw swimming in the cool waters of 
the harbor, but felt that they could not afford to 
waste a single minute. 

At twelve-thirty, with the sun at its zenith, 
they once more took to the air. This was Thurs- 
day. By Friday evening they should be at 
the Gallapagos Islands — their last stop before 
Panama. What a cheering thought it was! 

Heading just a trifle north of east, they ran 
almost full-out. It was easy to note the differ- 
ence in the behavior of the Sky-Bird since her 
helium tanks had been fully charged. She sped 
along as she had in the very beginning of their 
journey — like a long bullet fired from some 
gigantic cannon. How the engine did sing! The 
wind rushed by them like a hurricane, and they 
had to shout in order to be heard when they had 
anything to say to each other. 


Satisfied that all was going right, Tom and 
John soon turned in, for they were very sleepy. 
When the operating crew awoke them it was 
dark. Bob then got into wireless communication 
v>dth Panama, and delivered a message for JMr. 
Giddings. Following this, he and Paul also took 
to the hammocks. 

When the two youths awoke it was morning, 
and the Sky-Bird was not behaving as well as 
vv^hen they had retired. Looking outside they 
saw the reason for this. The entire heavens ahead 
were hidden under dun-colored clouds which in 
places seemed to be gathering themselves to- 
gether into formidable leaden arrangement. The 
gentle trade-winds had developed into a stiff 
wind. Down below, the sea vv^as covered with 
whitecaps, while in the distance the water was 
swinging into immense swells v/ith foaming 

John and Tom both looked worried. The tvv^o 
younger boys felt more uneasy when they noticed 

"I guess we're in for a pretty hard storm," said 
John, as he gave the throttle up to Paul. "Tom 
and I will stay up a while and see how things turn 
out. The Sky-Bird's down to about a hundred 
an hour now. Better keep her there, Buddy. 
That's fast enough in a blow like this." 

A few minutes later a fork of lightning split 


the sky ahead. This was followed by another off 
to the right, then by one off to the left. Then 
they heard the rumble of thunder, and a heavy 
gray haze slowly began to engulf the sea, rapidly 

"That's rain," cried Paul. "Say, John, if 
you're not too done out maybe you had better 
take the stick again; I'm afraid I won't be equal 
to what's coming." 

His brother complied. John did not wish to 
frighten his comrades, but the truth is he knew 
this would be the worst storm he had ever faced 
in his four years of flying. 

"We'll try to get above those clouds," he said 
quietly. He did not like to tell them just what 
he thought— that if they did not get above the 
clouds without delay they would either be struck 
by lightning or torn to pieces by the terrible 
whirlpool of winds which he knew those churning 
black masses ahead contained. 



JOHN turned the Sky-Bird upward at as stiff 
a slant as he felt would be safe for them in 
that high wind. At nine thousand feet they 
emerged above the first layer; but eastward the 
clouds appeared to terrace up gradually, and in 
the distance there extended another great wall, 
towering several thousand feet higher. 

Some of the rain was now beginning to reach 
them. It came pattering down upon the roof; 
and under the strong impulse of wind and their 
speed, it struck the glass windows in front with 
a smack like buckshot. The moisture on the panes 
made it difficult to see out, 

"Take a reading with the anemometer, 
Tom," ordered John, straining his eyes hard 

This little instrument was something like a 
miniature windmill. Its four wings were sup- 
supplied with cups which, as Tom held the instru- 
ment out of the window facing the wind, caused 
the spider to revolve. The latter was geared to 
a small dial, over the face of w^hich passed a 
hand, much like a clock, indicating the speed of 
the wind. 



"She's blowing fifty miles an hour, and gain- 
ing every minute," announced Tom. "That's the 
hardest wind wx've been in yet." 

"If we stay down here it will be blowing sixty 
within ten minutes," was the pilot's grim re- 

Just then there was a blinding flash of light a 
little way ahead of them, accompanied by such a 
terrific crash of thunder that their ears rang. 

"Gee!" cried Bob, "that was a close call! I'll 
bet that bolt came within a rod of striking us." 

"A miss is as good as a mile," shouted John 
cheerfully. He and the others found that they 
would have to yell in order to be heard, so great 
was the noise from engine and storm. 

Ziij! went a zigzagging livid streak across their 
range of vision. It seemed to be running straight 
for them, and instinctively they dodged — all but 
Tom and John. These old veterans continued to 
gaze coolly straight ahead as though nothing had 
happened. Crash-h! went a clap of thunder. It 
seemed as if the w^hole heavens w^ere being turned 
topsy-turvy. Even the airiDlane, usually so 
steady, heaved and rode like a rocking-horse. 

The two younger members of the party were 
not to be blamed for feeling pretty well fright- 
ened by this time. It was one thing to be cutting 
through the fleecy w^hite clouds of a calm day, 
and quite another to go stabbing through murky 


black ones which were rolling angrily, ejecting 
both wind and rain, and spitting out vicious roars 
and jagged streaks of pale-blue flame. One mo- 
ment they would be in gloom; the next instant 
a cloud would be rent asunder with a ripping, 
tearing sound, and the whole turbid, boiling sky- 
universe would be bathed in the ghostly light. 
What a weird, fantastic, chaotic world they 
were in! 

But it was only for a few minutes that they 
were in the worst danger. Soon, to their in- 
finite relief, they had reached their ''ceiling." 
They were now 15,000 feet up — almost three 
miles, — and below them lay the vast sea of trou- 
bled cloudland, dark and forbidding, rolling tu- 
multously like an ocean of curdled ink. It was 
a novel experience to be running in the clear air 
over all of this infernality of sounds and sights, 
while above them the blue, star-studded heavens 
looked down upon them cahnly and peaceably. 

For almost an hour the furious storm contin- 
ued in the lower regions. Then it began slowly to 
subside. First the lightning stopped, then the 
thunder. The banks of clouds took on a lighter 
hue, and began to drift apart ; a pinnacle here and 
a crag there were swept off by the winds, until 
the masses of nimbus became flattened out into 
patches of sun-flecked foam as beautiful as fresh- 
fallen snow. 


The anemometer spun slower and slower as the 
gale decreased in violence, and presently the air- 
plane was gliding along with its normal smooth- 
ness. Here and there, between the patches of 
white cloud, they caught glimpses of the ultra- 
marine sea, thousands of feet below them. 

It was so cold up here, even with the windows 
closed, that all the boys were shivering in their 
warmest wraps. The air, too, was so rarefied 
that it was with considerable difficulty that they 
could breathe, for they had been in it for some 
time. Not one flyer in a hundred can live at an 
altitude of twenty thousand feet, as he bleeds at 
the nose and mouth ; and our aviators were up to 
within five hundred feet of that height. It was 
now time to descend. 

John shut off both engines, and they began to 
volplane down in a great stillness, sailing like an 
immense hawk. Lower and lower they went — 
fourteen, thirteen, twelve, eleven, ten thousand 
feet. Now they were gliding through clear, thin 
air ; now cutting a hole through a heavy cloud so 
impregnated with moisture that it sweat over the 
glass and the boys would have to wipe a sleeve 
across hastily to improve the vision. Eight, 
seven, six, five, four, three, two! 

That was low enough. All this time the pro- 
peller had been spinning from the rush of air 
alone. Now John threw in the clutch; the re- 


volving propeller shaft grabbed the crankshaft 
of the engine, and once more it began its rhyth- 
mic purr. Just a little upthrust of the tail-ele- 
vators and ailerons brought them again into the 
horizontal in a huge swoop. Nothing could have 
been prettier. They had escaped the terrible tor- 
nado, leaving it still galloping westward far be- 
hind them, and were once more in normal posi- 
tion for continuing their flight toward the goal! 

Below them, for miles around, they could once 
more see the ocean uninterrupedly. Its moun- 
tainous waves and deep gorges of a short time 
previous had probably swallowed up many an un- 
lucky ship that morning; but its temper was ex- 
pended, and all it could do now was to sulk in 
long, even billows which every moment became 
flatter and flatter. 

How had their rivals fared? This question 
was in the minds of every one of our flyers as 
the Sky-Bird continued swiftly on her course. In 
their hearts was a vague feeling that perhaps 
Pete Deveaux and his crowd might not have come 
out of the storm as lucky as they, for not one 
airplane out of a score could have outlived it. 
Their own escape had been almost miraculous. 
But for the good generalship of John they surely 
would have met with mishap. 

So now, as they went along, a sharp lookout 
was not only kept for their rivals in the sky 


ahead, but anxious looks were cast over the ex- 
panse of white-capped waters. Calculations told 
them that by this time the other airplane could 
not be far ahead. 

Less than ten minutes later, Tom espied a 
small object far away on their port quarter. It 
was bobbing about on the waves, rising and fall- 
ing. Bob seized a pair of glasses, and took a long 
look. He turned around with his face full of 

"Heavens, fellows!" he cried; ''that object 
looks like an airj)lane!" 

All took a look. Then they, too, were excited. 
There could be no doubt about it — the object w^as 
a wrecked airplane. And as it was extremely un- 
likely that there were other machines in the vicin- 
ity than their own and that of their adversaries', 
they were quite sure that it must be the remains 
of the Clarion. 

John turned the Sky-Bird in the direction of 
the floating thing, and soon they saw what seemed 
to be the form of a human being clinging to 
one of the wings. John threw in both engines in 
an effort to get all possible speed out of the craft. 

In a little while they were close enough to see 
that the wreck was really the Clarion. But what 
a sad-looking sight was the former handsome 
craft! Her tail had been wrenched off, and only 
half of one of her long wings could be seen. Out 


upon the other, on hands and knees, clinging 
desperately to the aileron brace, was the hatless, 
water-soaked figure of a man. As they came 
closer still they could see him waving his hand 
frantically at them. 

With a glass, Paul saw that this person was 
Oliver Torrey. Anxiously his eyes roved over 
the wreck in quest of other survivors, but none 
could he discern. Irony of fate! had all of the 
others been drowned? 

John brought the Sky-Bird down to within 
seventy-five feet of the sea as they approached. 
Tom seized the speaking trumpet, and as they 
swept over the Clarion he bawled out; "Hang 
on, Torrey! We'll stand by, and save you if we 

But they were farcing a herculean task, and 
realized it. They could not light upon the water. 
Nor could they stop in midair. How in the 
world could they effect the hapless flyer's rescue ? 

John circled at reduced speed while all of their 
minds were busy trying to work out the problem. 
In the meantime Torrey 's frantic pleadings for 
them not to go away and leave him to his fate 
filled their ears. It was a trying, nerve-racking 

Bob Giddings struck upon the first idea. 

"Why can't we trail a rope for him to catch?" 
he asked. 


"He's probably too weak to climb a rope," ob- 
jected Tom. 

*'I'll tell you what we can do," said Paul, with 
a happy thought. "We can take this coil of rope 
we have here and make a narrow ladder of it! 
That will be easy for him to catch, and easy to 

All agreed instantly that this was the only hope 
of rescue. So John kept the Sky-Bird slowly 
wheeling, while his three mates cut and tied until 
they had formed a narrow rope ladder about fifty 
feet long. One end of this they securely fastened 
in the cabin, while they let the other drop down 
through the glass trap in the floor. 

To their dismay the rush of wind carried the 
light ladder out so horizontally behind that they 
saw they could never get low enough with safety 
for Oliver Torrey to reach it! What could they 
do now? It seemed they were destined to failure ; 
that Torrey must be left to the cruel and hungry 

'T have it!" cried Bob. "We'll fasten Grand- 
pa near the lower end of the ladder. His weight 
will be sufficient to keep it down straight." 

This was a splendid scheme, surely. Accord- 
ingly, the monkey, wondering what new form of 
teasing was about to be imposed upon him, was 
fastened about three feet from the bottom end of 
the ladder, and Grandpa and his strange trapeze 



was tKen slowly let down until all of the ladder 
had been paid out. The crew were glad to note 
that it now hung almost perpendicularly. 

Now the success of everything depended upon 
John. He must be skillful enough to bring the 
ladder across Torrey's position in just the right 
place for the flyer to grasp it as it swept past. 

They shouted to the man below to stand up if 
he could, and comprehending in an instant his 
part of the program, he struggled to his feet, 
spreading them wide apart to brace himself, for 
the wrecked airplane was rocking somewhat from 
the action of the waves. 

The first time John brought the Sky-Bird by 
he was too high ; Torrey could not reach the lad- 
der. The second time a sudden gust of wind blew 
the ropes too far to one side at the critical mo- 
ment. The third time the machine itself was a 
trifle too far to one side. But on the fourth at- 
tempt success met their patient efforts; Torrey's 
hands seized the bottom rung of the ladder, and 
a few minutes later he had climbed up into the 
cabin and sunk weakly upon the floor. Paul then 
brought in the ladder, laughing nervously, and 
released Grandpa, who had not relished his part 
of the proceedings in the least, to judge from his 
excited chattering, most of which was bestowed 
upon the rescued man. 



ONE of the first questions our flyers asked 
of Oliver Torrey, after they had helped 
him remove his wet clothing, was: 
**Where are your friends?" 

The Clarion flyer shook his head sadly, 
"They're done for — drowned. I'm the only one 
left of our crew. That was an awful storm, 
boys! I don't see how you ever survived it." 

"We did it by flying over the greater part 
of it," said Tom. "How did it happen to get 
you fellows?" 

"Pete and Chuck were operating," explained 
Oliver Torrey. "Sam and I both wanted to get 
above the tornado, but they said they thought it 
wouldn't amount to much. When they saw how 
bad it really was, it was too late. A whirlpool 
of wind struck us at three thousand feet, Pete 
lost control, and we went into a nose-dive from 
which we never recovered. When we struck the 
sea the force crushed in the front of the cabin, 
stunning Pete, and before any of us could grab 
him the waves had washed him out of our sight. 



Chuck, Sam, and I managed to get out and 
climb up on the fuselage; but the seas were run- 
ning so high that half of the time we were buried 
in water. Coming out of one of these deluges, 
I looked around and saw that I was alone. Then 
the storm passed, and things looked better for 
me. But I was just about read}^ to give up when 
I saw the Sky-Bird coming." 

Oliver Torrey paused a moment, wiped his 
haggard face, and then continued, as he looked 
earnestly at his rescuers: 

"Boys, I never can thank you enough for sav- 
ing my worthless life. It's awful to think that 
we guys let Pete Deveaux coax us into doing 
all those dirty things to hold you back. I guess 
we deserved this punishment. If I ever get back 
to Panama I'll certainly make what am.ends I can 
by telling the whole disgraceful story to the 

Tom stepped in front of the Clarion flyer, and 
shook his finger in his face. "Torrey," said Tom, 
"I think at heart you are all right; but listen! 
Mr. Wrenn, who hired you fellows, is a straight 
man through and through. If this story gets out 
it will be published broadcast, and people will 
think he abetted your crimes against us. So, for 
his sake " 

"I see; I hadn't thought of that," ejaculated 
Torrey. "I will keep still; as far as the pub- 


lic'll ever know, they'll think this was a fair and 
square contest — and so it was on your part." 

It must be remembered that John and Tom 
had had no sleep since the day previous. They 
were so tired by now, especially John, that they 
were very glad to retire to the hammocks, leav- 
ing Paul and Bob to take care of the Sky-Bird. 
Oliver Torrey was also exhausted, and accepted 
with alacrity Paul's invitation to him to jump 
into the spare hammock. Within five minutes 
the two youths were the only ones awake. 

It seemed good to the boys to feel that soon 
they would be at San Cristobal, their last stop 
before the final hop. They flew along with the 
throttle wide open for the next hour, eager to 
make up for the delay caused by the storm and 
the rescue of Torrey. Then they reduced the 
speed a little, to make sure they would not over- 
heat the engine, but still they made good time. 

Shortly before six o'clock that afternoon 
they sighted a blue haze which a little later de- 
veloped into a group of several islands. These 
they knew, by consulting their chart, were the 
Gallapagos, the home of the largest land-turtles 
ever known, monsters so enormous that one of 
them could walk off with two half -grown boys on 
his broad back. 

There are over two thousand volcano cones in 
these islands, and soon our friends were almost in 


the midst of them. On all sides and at all dis- 
tances were rugged peaks one hundred to two 
thousand feet high, rising sheer from a rose-pink 
sea over which the declining sun played ravish- 
ingly. Along the shores pelicans soared above the 
shallow inlets, watching for unwary fish. Tiny 
birds darted in and out among the cliffs. Down 
in the crystal depths of the sea, over shelves of 
coral, vague shapes hovered and passed and re- 
passed — sharks, dolphins, turtles, and grunts, 
even the ghastly devil-fish. 

All life seemed confined to water and to air; 
never was dry land so desolate-looking as those 
myriads of barren volcanic cones. Yet one of 
these islands was peopled with human beings — 
San Cristobal. 

Wliich one was it? The easternmost of the 
group, said the chart. 

Circling that way. Bob gave a yelp like a pup 
which sees his younger master after he has been 
away all day. 

"I see Dalrymple Rock!" he cried, with the 
binoculars to his eyes. "I see Wreck Point, too, 
and a bay between 'em, with houses on the beach. 
That looks like our number, all right. What 
more do j^ou want, Paul?" 

"Nothing," laughed Paul, — "except our land- 
ing field. Find that, wake up the other fellows, 
and I'll be satisfied." 


In a moment Bob pointed out a flat field 
marked with the welcome white T, then he 
aroused John and Tom while Paul was bringing 
the Sky-Bird down. From a rickety old pier, 
also from the shores where they had gathered, a 
crowd of curious natives rushed forward to wit- 
ness the landing of the most startling object they 
had ever seen. They were a mixture of South 
Americans, mostly Ecuadoreans, and not until 
our friends stepped out of the cabin did they 
summon up enough courage to get very close to 
the machine. 

Among them was the owner of the island — a 
good-looking young Ecuadorean, highly edu- 
cated, who was to look after their interests in 
the matter of fuel, — and the chief of police (pre- 
sumably "chief," because there is only one repre- 
sentative of the law in the Galapagos) . 

The owner of San Cristobal informed the 
flyers in excellent French, — which all of them 
except Oliver Torrey could speak,— that he was 
delighted to welcome the first airplane crew to his 
little domain; that weeks ago the ship had 
brought gasoline and oil, which was now await- 
ing their pleasure in the little nearby shanty; 
that he and his police officer and the peons were 
eager to serve them in any way they could; and 
would the brave American aviators favor him 


and his police officer by joining them at the ha- 
cienda for dinner that evening? 

Our friends graciously accepted this invitation, 
upon finding that their host would appoint a 
v^atch for the airplane. They then went with 
him to his pretty hacienda in the valley — a green, 
undulating country, dotted with grazing cattle 
and horses, patches of sugar-cane, coffee bushes, 
and lime trees, stretching away to a cloud-capped 
range of mountains. 

Situated upon a hillock, in the midst of this 
entrancing valley, and surrounded by the peons' 
grass houses, was the owner's home. Here the 
flyers partook of an excellent repast, garnished 
with the best the island could afford, including 
tender wild duck from the surrounding lagoons 
and savory turtle soup. Then followed songs by 
their host, and jolly college melodies by them- 
selves, accompanied by the sweet strains of a 
guitar in the hands of the police officer. 

Out in the compound, the peons also celebrated 
the occasion. There were great oil flares, thrum- 
mings of guitars, gyrating dancers in bright-hued 
ponchos, merr}^ cries, the laughing of children, 
the barking of dogs. 

Everybody seemed thoroughly happy and con- 
tented. And, after all, what else matters ? That 
is the Ecuadorean point of view, and who shall 
say it is a bad one? 


It was difficult for the boys xo remind them- 
selves that here they were precisely on the 
equator, so positively chilly was it. And yet they 
were. It was the third time which they had 
touched that imaginary girdle of the earth in 
the past week or so; and it was to be their last 
crossing. How inspiring the thought that they 
were now within one hop of their goal ; that some- 
time on the morrow they would probably reach 
Panama well within their time limit of ten days! 

The fact is, they had only 650 miles ahead of 
them — a distance which could easily be covered, 
barring accidents, inside of five hours, and they 
had until one o'clock the following day in which 
to reach their destination. When they realized 
this, and were pressed most insistently by the 
owner of the island to spend the night, under the 
shelter of his roof, where there were two spare 
beds, the tired, bed-hungry flyers decided to re- 
main over, Oliver Torrey going to the house of 
the police "chief." Torrey was really in no physi- 
cal condition, as it was, to continue the flight 
immediately, for he had suffered a chill as the 
result of his exposure, and felt very weak. 

Next morning they were up at the break of 
day, and at once began the task of refilling the 
tanks of the Sky-Bird and giving her machinery 
a general overhauling. Torrey felt much better, 
and assisted in these operations. His gratitude 


to the boys for deciding not to divulge the duplic- 
ity of the unfortunate crew with whom he had 
been connected was very great, and he spared 
no effort to help them on toward success — which 
goes to show that this fellow was not at all bad 
at heart but had simply gotten in with a bad 

It was a good thing that the flyers went over 
their engines. John found a loose coupling in 
one, and a stretched fan belt in the other. Had 
they gone on in this condition trouble would have 
been sure to visit them. It was small wonder, 
however, that something should not be out of 
good working order, for these faithful pieces of 
mechanism had been given the hardest kind of 
usage day in and day out, each in its turn, and 
sometimes working together, in this long flight 
around the earth. Their final test had been the 
storm. More than once the boys had marveled 
at the remarkable efficiency of their motive 
power. What a tribute to the mechanical genius 
of modern man had these engines paid! They 
were almost human in intelligence, more than 
human in their untiring zeal. 

The repairs were not difficult to make: the 
belt was cut and fastened again with a leather 
lace borrowed from the police "chief's" shoe, and 
the careful use of a wrench and other tools out of 
their kit finally fixed the loose coupling. But 


these operations had consumed unlooked-for valu- 
able time, and when they had had breakfast with 
their friends and were ready at last to go, they 
found that the watch of their host indicated the 
hour of nine. 

Setting their own watches to this local time, 
as had been their custom in all towns upon ar- 
riving or leaving, our flyers once more thanked 
their entertainers for courtesies extended, wished 
them good-bye, and got in their machine. 

As they taxied swiftly down the course, the 
rush of wind from the big propeller sent more 
than one Ecuadorean's wide-brimmed hat flying 
from his head, and to the enjoyment of all, a 
native who was perched precariously upon an up- 
ended cask was blo^vn heels -over-head backwards. 

No sooner had they straightened out upon their 
northeasterly course than Bob sat down to his 
instruments and called up the Panama wireless 
station. In about ten minutes he got it, and told 
of their position and the accident to the Clarion. 
They all knew that when the news of this catas- 
trophe reached the American newspapers there 
would be the greatest excitement, and that Mr. 
Wrenn would not only be grievously disap- 
pointed but horrified at the fate of the three mem- 
bers of his crew. 

They now had just four hours in which to 
reach their goal. That meant they must travel 


at an average rate of better than 160 miles an 
hour. Since they had gone considerably faster 
than this when the occasion had warranted it in 
the past, they felt no anxieties now. John, who 
was at the throttle, opened the Sky-Bird up to 
165, and at this gait they skimmed swiftly along 
over the blue-green waters of the big Pacific. 

''This speed ought to bring us in by twelve- 
thirty — a good half -hour ahead of our limit, — so 
there's no need of rushing matters," said John, 
to which sentiment his comrades agreed. 

By eleven o'clock all were keenly on the look- 
out. Each flyer coveted the honor of being the 
first one to see the coastline of Central America, 
the resting-place of Panama. 

Paul, with the binoculars to his eyes, was the 
one to win. It was just exactly 11 :25 when he 
shouted in true mariner's style: "Land ho, my 
hearties !" 

Taking the glass, one by one his comrades 
gladly echoed the announcement. 

But suddenly Bob's face turned chalky. "Jim- 
iny, fellows," he cried, "what boneheads we are! 
We have been figuring on San Cristobal time all 
the while. Panama's close to an hour ahead!" 

"And we've only got thirty-five minutes in 
which to land!" said Tom. "Huckleberry pie! 
Boneheads we are! Boneheads, boneheads! I re- 
peat it — boneheads, boneheads ! It's all off now." 


Tom actually wrung his hands in his misery, and 
the others felt just about as humiliated and dis- 
gusted with themselves. 

"Here's where our prize goes a-flickering," 
groaned Paul. "We never can make Panama in 
thirty-five minutes 1" 

"I don't know about that," declared his brother 
grimly. "Here goes for the effort, anyhow. I'll 
make the Sky-Bird fly as she has never flown be- 

With that he brought the throttle ^\ade open, 
and two minutes later threw the second engine 
into commission. 



TIEY were not beaten yet! The wind 
whistled, shrieked, and roared as it swept 
aft along the smooth body of the Sky- 
Bird. The propeller whirred, and the engines 
purred like two huge twin cats. So great were 
the noises combined that the voice was completely 
overwhelmed, and no effort was made by the 
flyers to talk with one another. 

With their pulses beating wildly and hearts 
thumping in accord, they watched the hazy streak 
on the horizon line ahead rapidly develop into the 
unmistakable rugged form of land. As they drew 
closer, they could even see the glint of water on 
the other side, and knew without the shadow of 
doubt that what they were looking at was the 
long belt of earth connecting the two Americas 
— the Isthmus of Panama itself. And down their 
backs ran a new thrill at the recognition. 

Larger and larger loomed the brown and green 
strip in advance. Presently, amid the checker- 
board of nature's colorations, they could make 



out a bay and on a tongue of land a considerable 
collection of buildings. It was Panama City! 
Five minutes later they could even distinguish the 
American flag — how glorious the sight ! — flutter- 
ing at the staff head of the courthouse, and could 
see the streets and ships in the harbor thronged 
with people who were evidently waiting to wel- 
come them. 

The excitement of the throngs increased as 
the airplane drew closer. People jumped up and 
down, yelled, and waved their hats. It had been 
only a few minutes before that Bob had received 
the radio admonition from the Panama station: 
"Town gone wild ; but hurry in. You only have 
six minutes left!" 

Now they were circling high over the heads of 
the populace, with one engine shut off and the 
speed of the other much reduced. In graceful, 
pretty circles the Sky-Bird began to spiral her 
way downward, John's eyes fastened upon the 
big white T of the familiar airdrome. As they 
came down, people in the outlying districts rushed 
madly toward the field, and the streets every- 
where were choked with the concourse pouring 
toward the center of attraction. 

Scores of others had previously posted them- 
selves in the airdrome; but all were kept back 
'by a cordon of ropes and a guard of Zone police- 
men. Inside of the barrier were a favored few 


- — Government officials and distinguished per- 
sonages, newspaper men, photographers, and Mr. 
Giddings and Mr. Wrenn themselves. Colonel 
Hess, the judge of the contest, was also present, 
ready to receive the flyers' affidavits of stops. 

As the flyers stepped out of their machine 
many a camera clicked, and the air was filled with 
the cheers of the multitude. 

Colonel Hess stepped quickly up. In one hand 
was a watch; the other was extended. 

"My heartiest congratulations, boys!" he ex- 
claimed, as he received their paper. "You have 
arrived just in the nick of time. Panama time, 
it is now exactly fifty-nine minutes after twelve!" 

They had won by one minute ! The flyers were 
so tickled that they also felt like cheering. But 
they were sobered instantly when Mr. Wrenn 
came forward and they saw how sorrowful he 
looked in spite of the brave smile with which he 
greeted them. 

"Young men," said the publisher of the Clar- 
ion, "as the loser in this contest I also wish to 
congratulate you. We have suffered a heavy 
blow ourselves, but you deserve full credit for the 
good work you have done, and I am not the kind 
of a contemporary to withhold compliments so 
fairly earned. I trust my men conducted them- 
selves as true sportsmen, poor fellows." 

Noticing that Oliver Torrey was on the point 


of making reply, John gave him a warning look, 
and a moment later pulled him aside and said in 
a low voice: "Mr. Wrenn should not know that 
you fellows did not conduct yourselves otherwise 
than fair in this race. That would make him feel 
all the worse. Keep mum to everybody about 
this, and we'll do the same." 

Oliver Torrey nodded — tears in his eyes as he 
saw how desirous the Sky-Bird's crew were of 
protecting his o^\ti interests as well as the good 
name of his former associates. What fine fellows 
they were! How he wished he could have been 
allied with them on this cruise, instead of with 
Pete Deveaux and his bunch! 

The hardships and perils of the past ten days 
were forgotten in the excitement of the present. 
Our flyers hardly knew what they were doing, so 
great was their joy. They shook hands with 
scores, hearts swelling with those emotions in- 
voked by achievement and the glamor of the mo- 
ment. It was — and always will be, perhaps, — ^the 
supreme hour of their lives. 

Almost reverently they looked over the Sky- 
Bird. Through every possible climatic rigor the 
airplane had passed, and practically without any 
attention. Not once, from the time they had left 
this very airdrome until they had reached it again, 
after traversing close to 25,000 miles, had she 
been under shelter or sulked on them through de- 


ficient construction. Given a few days to over- 
haul her engines, they felt they would be quite 
capable of repeating their world record-breaking 
achievement, if it were necessary. 

These reflections were of brief duration, how- 
ever; for the crowd, having forced its way past 
the barriers, and having satisfied its curiosity over 
the machine, directed their attention to the flyers. 
Brimming with enthusiasm, they lifted every one 
of them shoulder high, laughing and cheering, 
and conveyed them to an extemporized platform 
made from a large box. From this elevation, each 
flyer in his turn was called upon for a speech. The 
boys made these quite brief, but were vociferously 
applauded; and then the two famous publishers 
were asked to contribute. Following came the 
governor of the Zone, who very eloquently ex- 
pressed the pride the little Republic felt in start- 
ing off and witnessing the finish of this memor- 
able event, and he said the keys of Panama were 
at the disposal of the young aviators until they 
should feel it incumbent upon them to leave for 
the States. 

For three days our friends remained, and dur- 
ing that time they were the almost constant re- 
cipients of honors from civic clubs and associa- 
tions of the city, as well as from the English- 
speaking citizenry in general. They were enter- 
tained at dinners, at the theater, and at sporting 


events out-of-doors — and not a penny were they 
allowed to spend themselves. 

To the aviators it all seemed like a festival 
snatched from the covers of "Arabian Nights." 
Had genii and fairies, elfs and goblins, appeared 
before them bearing gifts of gold and jewels they 
would hardly have been surprised, so unreal did 
everything appear to their tired minds ; and tired 
bodies only grew more tired under the stress of 
the social demands. 

Strange indeed were their feelings when, upon 
looking at back files of newspapers, they read the 
history of their exploits, recorded with a degree 
of detail which must have taxed the imaginative 
resources of editorial staffs to gray hairs; and 
saw picture after picture taken with their own 
camera and sent across many a continent in the 
form of undeveloped film, now to bring before 
their eyes once more the realism of the moment 
when they were taken. There v/ere photographs 
of themselves collectively and individually in 
many a place now far distant; views of the ma- 
chine at rest, and of parts of it among the clouds 
and above them; two views of the fight with the 
condors; several of Grandpa in various amusing 
positions ; many pictures of foreign places and of 
natives; illustrations showing the battle with the 
devil-fish; storms as seen from below, and storms 
as seen below when flying above them. Even 


pictures of the wreck of the Clarion, and of Oliver 
Torrey climbing up the rope ladder, were not 

Before the flyers left Panama, Paul received 
many offers to sell Grandpa to various admirers, 
but no amount of money could have induced him 
to part with this faithful little mascot. Ohver 
Torrey particularly felt that he owed a great 
debt of gratitude to the monkey. 

When the party finally reached New York 
City, after a non-incidental flight of one night 
and the major portion of a day, they were given 
another ovation — one which far outrivaled in 
volume the one they had received at Panama. The 
mayor and city officials wished to fete them, but 
the boys were too exhausted to stand more of 
such doings; they wished to get home as soon as 
possible, hide from everybody but those in their 
immediate families, and just rest — rest — rest. 
They didn't think they would even care to see 
their dear old Sky-Bird again for several months. 

It would be hard indeed to comprehend the 
feelings that surged through the flyers as they 
landed the airplane in the fair-grounds of their 
own native town — Yonkers — and were greeted 
by hundreds of familiar faces and voices, to say 
nothing of the hand-clasps of many old-time 

But, after all, the reunion with their own rela- 


tives was the cause for the greatest thanksgiving, 
as we may assume. Both Paul's and Bob's 
mothers had prepared the choicest of dinners for 
their famous sons, and that evening the Ross and 
Giddings families were the happiest and merriest 
ones in town. 

Mr. Giddings and Mr. Wrenn both realized 
more out of the advertising than the contest had 
cost them. The former met his agreement by 
giving each of his flyers five thousand dollars, 
and his business rival did likewise by Oliver Tor- 
rey. Later on, Bob and the Ross boys sold their 
patents on the Sky-Bird to a large airplane 
manufacturing company for a sum which prom- 
ised to make them independent for the rest of 
their lives. 




This book is 



under no circumstances to be 
en from the Building 

torm 410