Poems & Short Stories: 4,271
Forum Members: 70,634
Forum Posts: 1,033,546
And over 2 million unique readers monthly!
"Good night!" was David's ejaculation as the boys saw Jimmie at the hilltop being captured by the German. "That ends it, I suppose!"
"No," protested Ned, "it just begins the work. Up to now we have been only playing, but here's where the real work starts."
"What do you mean--'real work'?" was Jack's anxious inquiry.
"Why," replied Ned, "they've got Jimmie enlisted in that Uhlan regiment, and you can plainly see how closely they are watching him. If we get him away from those fellows it means real work for all."
"Aw! Go on!" put in Harry. "I move we go back to the cellar and get a bunch of those Russian rifles with sufficient ammunition, fill the tanks of the Eagle with some of this gasoline, get aboard a lot of canned goods and swoop down on the German camp like a hawk after some chickens. We can let down a trapeze for Jimmie to grab onto."
"Sounds easy, doesn't it?" remarked David with a short laugh.
"Easy?" questioned Harry. "You don't seem to know Jimmie very well or you would mean just what you say. He can do it all right!"
"But, I say," replied David, "wouldn't those German soldiers be on the alert when we approached? Wouldn't they jolly well shoot us full of holes, and wouldn't they make it rather difficult that way?"
"Now, see here, Dave," argued Harry, "if you could have seen Jimmie when he rescued Havens, the aviator, in British Columbia by dropping from our aeroplane to that of Havens by means of a single rope, you wouldn't think the trick so very impossible."
"Of course," admitted David, "I have no doubt your friend is a wonder, although I have never met him. It is not so much his ability I question as it is the possibility of our getting to him without being detected by the Germans. My word, that is a big task."
"Evidently there are a number of things you don't know," returned Harry, it must be said in a somewhat boastful manner. "We'll have to introduce you to Mr. Ned Nestor, the champion aviator of the Wolf Patrol of New York City. And," the boy added, "that means, of course, the United States. He is some aviator, I tell you!"
"Why didn't you make it the world while you were at it?" asked Jack quizzically, regarding Harry with an amused smile.
"Well, I guess I wouldn't have been far wrong at that," contended Harry with a glance of pride in Ned's direction. "As the Irishman would say, Ned has 'a way wid him,' and you know it as well as I do."
"I'll not be the last one to admit that Ned certainly can coax an aeroplane into doing stunts that seem marvelous, but I agree with Dave here that unless our chum has some way of striking the Germans blind and deaf we have a mighty slim chance of picking Jimmie up."
Harry's glance of contempt at his comrade was withering in the extreme. So great was his faith in Ned's ability that he would not have hesitated at anything, no matter what the conditions.
"I move," Harry went on, "that we cut out this argument, rob the Russian cache back there in the cellar, and make ourselves scarce around here while the 'beating' still remains in good condition."
"I second the motion," added Ned, "so far as the matter of getting out of Peremysl is concerned. We can take up the other matter later on."
"Those in favor say 'Aye'," said Jack, turning upon his heel and starting back toward the base of supplies the boys had discovered under the pilotage of young Gilmore, the Vancouver Moose.
"The 'Ayes' have it!" announced Harry, preparing to follow his chum. "What do you need most, Ned, and what will you have first?"
"Well, I guess we need something to eat, and a little more gasoline wouldn't go so bad," stated Ned, picking up one of the empty vessels in which gasoline had been brought to the Eagle.
"Sure enough!" cried Jack. "I clean forgot the gasoline business. Watch me give an imitation of a Boy Scout carrying water for the elephant, only in this case the elephant happens to be an 'Eagle'."
In spite of the seriousness of the situation in which the boys found themselves, David could not repress a laugh of merriment and appreciation of the light-hearted manner in which Harry and Jack met the difficulties and dangers surrounding the little party.
"I say, lads," he began, as the four boys took their way carefully from the site on which the Eagle rested toward the underground cavern they had recently quitted, "there's plenty for us in that storeroom, and all we need to do is help ourselves. If only we are not interrupted by some of the Germans patrolling the town, we will be all right."
"Let me get my hands on one perfectly good shooting iron, with some cartridges," stated Jack, "and it will go pretty hard with any German who endeavors to stop us before we get good and going!"
"Now, Jack," protested Ned, "that 'shooting iron' business will have to be postponed, I'm afraid, until such time as we are more nearly out of the woods than we are just now. It wouldn't be quite the thing."
"Oh, of course," said Jack in a tone intended to appear sulky, but with a covert wink at Harry, "somebody is always taking the joy out of life. Why can't I just shoot up a few Dutchmen, I'd like to know?"
"Because they might not think it polite," answered Ned seriously. "Besides," he added, "it wouldn't be strictly in accordance with Boy Scout principles, as you yourself will admit."
"Well," observed David with a sigh, "when I consider some of the things that have happened during the last few days and weeks, I am almost ready to admit that I'd like to resign temporarily."
"Why?" asked Ned. "Have the Germans been doing things to you?"
"Well," stated David, "isn't their capture and treatment of Jimmie sufficient to make us want to do things to them?"
"Yes, it is," admitted Ned, "but at the same time we must remember that 'two wrongs never make a right,' and, according to my recollection, number ten of the Boy Scout laws states that a scout is brave and has the courage to face danger in spite of fear, and defeat does not down him."
"Yes," put in Jack, "and number three, which we all know so well, states that a scout must do one good turn to somebody every day."
"Am I to understand that you would not consider shooting a German a good turn?" asked Harry, who was slightly in the lead.
"A good turn to whom?" asked Ned, following closely upon Jack's heels. "Would shooting be a good turn to the 'shootee'?"
"Well, I don't know about that," answered Jack. "I can easily understand how some fellows might consider it a disadvantage."
"My word," put in David, as the little party prepared to descend into the subterranean cavern which they termed their base of supplies, "these poor fellows here are not able to know whether it's a disadvantage or not. Just look at that poor chap lying there."
As he spoke David pointed toward the form of a Russian soldier lying in a huddled heap upon the stone floor amidst a tangle of debris.
Jack shuddered as he gazed upon the spectacle for an instant.
"I guess I won't want to shoot any Germans," he said. "And I guess that might include other folks besides Germans, too."
"Let's hurry on, boys," urged Ned. "This awful war business will get on my nerves directly. Let's get our supplies and make our getaway."
Luckily for the little party, the German occupants of the defeated city were busily engaged in occupations that required all their attention. Hence the work of provisioning the Eagle was accomplished without untoward incident. In a very short time the boys had succeeded in placing aboard the air craft sufficient fuel and provisions from the abandoned stores to satisfy the demand of even Jack and Harry, who well remembered the hunger with which they had been assailed at the time of their entrance into the stricken war zone.
"Is everything all ready now?" asked Jack, wiping the sweat from his forehead. "Have we got everything we need, Ned?"
"Yes, I think we have everything," Ned replied, glancing quickly but carefully over the mechanism of the giant plane.
"Just one minute, then," urged Jack. "While you're warming up the engine I'll slip back and pick up one of those rifles I saw, for use in case of emergency. Something, you know, might happen."
Ned laughed as Jack darted away. Turning to the others, he said:
"If we're not careful Jack will soon be as bloodthirsty as Jimmie himself. But," he went on, "it might come in handy at that."
Preferring not to use the self-starter, for the sake of quiet, Ned turned an electric switch which controlled a circuit leading to a contrivance designed by Harry for just such an emergency. This delicate piece of mechanism was located at the carburetor, and was called by Harry the "starting stove." Its office was to warm the gasoline to such an extent that it would make vaporization much more rapid than would ordinarily be the case. This would enable the aviator to start his engine without the usual difficulty due to cold fuel.
Scarcely had the electric current warmed the carburetor sufficiently before Jack returned, carrying a rifle, together with a quantity of cartridges. These he bundled into the fuselage.
"All right, boys, get aboard and we will 'get out of town,' as that Montana freight conductor used to say," urged Ned.
David climbed to a seat beside the steering levers, which were in Ned's grasp. Harry found a place beside a quantity of canned goods.
"Beat it, Ned!" cried Jack from his position on the ground. "We're just in time. Here come the German soldiers after us!"
It was even as the boy said. A detachment of soldiers, evidently policing the town, had discovered the activity of the boys in the vicinity of the giant aeroplane and were coming forward to investigate.
Ned stepped on the starting pedal energetically. Current from the storage batteries flowed through the motor, saturating it almost instantly. Ned's foot was pressed upon the cut-out lever, and the resultant roar from the engines precluded absolutely the possibility of further conversation. Like a thing of life the Eagle leaped forward. Ned gave all his attention to the problem of steering.
In an ever-widening circle the Eagle rose above the open space upon which it had rested. Ned lifted his foot from the cut-out lever, throwing the exhaust from the engine through the specially designed muffler, which was perhaps Harry's greatest pride.
The contrast between the clamor of a moment before and the comparative quiet of the present instant was startling.
In astonishment at the results achieved, David glanced in wonderment and amazement at the fabric which was bearing the boys aloft. Fully able to appreciate superior mechanism, the boy was lost in his examination of the delicate and yet effective machinery.
His glance of approval rested upon Ned and Harry in turn. He looked about to give a friendly nod to Jack. Greatly to his surprise, Jack was not to be seen anywhere in the fuselage. Startled greatly, he turned toward Ned and laid a hand upon the boy's arm.
"Where's Jack?" he cried. "I don't see him anywhere!"
Ned almost precipitated the entire party in a sudden plunge earthward as he turned in response to David's query. For a moment only the boy lost control of the great machine. But that moment was enough to cause the aeroplane to dip swiftly toward the ground.
Before Ned could regain control much of the altitude was lost. In another instant he had again directed the course of their craft toward the open air high above the ruined city. But the lost distance was sufficient to bring the party within range of the rifles of the German soldiers who had been running toward their location.
A sharp report echoed from below. A whizzing, tearing sound assailed the ears of the lads within the fuselage of the Eagle.
"Pretty close that time," commented Harry with a slight tremble in his voice. "Shall I reply to them, Ned?" he asked.
"Not yet," replied Ned, shaking his head negatively.
Another report from below was heard, followed instantly by the clang of a bullet against metal. A shriek rose from below.
|Art of Worldly Wisdom Daily|
In the 1600s, Balthasar Gracian, a jesuit priest wrote 300 aphorisms on living life called "The Art of Worldly Wisdom." Join our newsletter below and read them all, one at a time.
Shakespeare wrote over 150 sonnets! Join our Sonnet-A-Day Newsletter and read them all, one at a time.