The Rover Boys in the Air/Chapter 13
SOME INTERESTING NEWS
Before the biplane had come to a complete standstill the students on the campus made a rush and surrounded the three Rover boys.
"The grandest arrival I ever heard of!" cried Songbird, as he caught one after another by the hand. "I shall have to write some verses about this."
"However did you manage it?" queried Stanley Browne. "I didn't know you could run an aeroplane."
"It's out of sight alretty!" came from Max Spangler. "But we could see it, yes!" he added hastily.
"Oh, we thought we'd give the fellows a little surprise," answered Dick modestly. "We purchased the biplane some time ago. It's easy to run after you get the knack of it."
"But carrying three!" went on Stanley. "I've heard of 'em carrying two but not more than that."
"It's quite a load," said Tom. "We've got to have a more powerful engine if we want to carry that many right along."
"And the streamers and confetti!" cried Songbird. "I'll bet those were Tom's idea!"
"You're right," answered Dick.
"And he thought of the flags and horns, too," put in Sam, bound to place the credit where it was due.
"I had to do something to let off steam," said Tom lightly. "Dick wouldn't allow me to fire a bomb, or a cannon, or anything like that," he continued dryly.
During this talk many of the students and instructors commenced to inspect the biplane, and soon the Rover boys were kept busy answering questions.
"Well, young gentlemen, allow me to congratulate you on your successful flight to this place!" said a pleasant voice, and turning the youths found themselves confronted by Doctor John Wallington, the head of the college. He smiled broadly as he shook hands. "This surely marks an epoch in the history of Brill," he went on. "First arrival of students by airship," and he turned to Professor Blackie, who was with him.
"You are right, sir," returned that instructor. "We'll have to make a note of it." And this was done; and anybody going to Brill can see thfl record in the "history book" of that famous institution.
"Look who's here!" suddenly cried a cheery; voice, and Will Jackson, usually called "Spud," because of his liking for potatoes, pushed his way to the Rover boys' side. "I was upstairs dressing when you arrived, but I saw it all from the window. Say, that flight couldn't be beaten. You must have come about three miles a minute, eh? Puts me in mind of the time I was caught in a Kansas cyclone. The wind carried me off my feet, and landed me high up on the side of a big building, and there I had to stick until the wind went down! Fact, and if you don't believe it, some day I'll show you one of the bricks from that same building. I keep it to sharpen my penknife oa'"
"The same old Spud!" cried Dick, while the others laughed outright. "Telling a yarn before he even shakes hands. How are you?" And he gave Will's hand a squeeze that made the story-teller wince.
"We'll have to have some place in which to store the biplane," said Sam to Dr. Wallington. "Do you think we could put it in the boathouse for the present—or in the shed of the gymnasium?"
"You may use the gymnasium shed, if you can get the machine inside," replied the head of the college. "I presume we'll have to build regular hangars here,—if the students are going to own flying machines," he added, with a smile.
"Well, they are good advertisements, Doctor," put in Tom. "Nothing like being up-to-date, you know."
"Perhaps, Rover, perhaps. And it will be instructive to all here, to watch you and your brothers manipulate the biplane. But do not let the use of the machine interfere with your studies."
"Oh, we'll use it like we would our bicycles, or a motor boat, or an auto," said Sam. "We came back to make a record for ourselves."
"I am glad to hear it, Samuel, very glad indeed." And then the good doctor hurried away to attend to his official duties.
Some of the late arrivals wanted the Rover boys to give another exhibition flight, and for their benefit Tom took a little sail by himself, and then Sam went up for five minutes. Then the biplane was rolled over to the big shed attached to the gymnasium, a place usually used for housing carriages and automobiles during athletic contests. Here one end was cleaned out and the Dartaway was rolled in, and the engine was covered with a tarpaulin brought from the boathouse.
During the time that all this was being done, one student of Brill had kept to himself, even though greatly interested in what was going on, This was Dudd Flockley, the dudish youth who had once been the crony of Jerry Koswell and Bart Larkspur. There was a sneer on his handsome face.
"Great work, eh, Dudd?" said Bob Grimes, one of the students, in passing.
"I don't know what you mean," returned Flockley, coolly.
"Oh, yes you do, Dudd," retorted the other. "But I suppose it's sour grapes for you," he added pointedly, for he was a friend to the Rovers and knew something about the troubles of the past.
"Bah!" came from Dudd Flockley, and he turned and hurried away. "Now those Rover boys have come back I suppose they'll try to lord it over everybody, just as they did before. How I hate them! I wish I could do something to get them in a hole!" He had forgotten completely the kindness the Rover boys had shown him, and how they had gone to the head of the college and, pleaded for him, so that he had been allowed to remain at Brill. Perhaps Flockley was not as wicked at heart as his former college cronies, Larkspur and Koswell, but he was equally ungrateful.
Soon the Rover boys and their chums were up in the dormitory where they had their rooms. As before, Tom and Sam were together, in Number 25. with Dick and Songbird in Number 26, and Stanley and the others not far off.
"Home again!" sang out Tom, as he dropped in an easy chair. "My, but this looks natural!" he added, glancing around.
"I want to tell you something," said Stanley, who had followed the three brothers and Songbird into one of the rooms. "Maybe we'd better shut the door," he added, significantly.
"Yes, he's got news," added Songbird. "Say, it beats the nation how some fellows hold a grudge," he went on.
"What's the trouble now?" demanded Dick, quickly.
"Day before yesterday I was over to Ashton," answered Stanley, after the door to the room had been closed and locked. "I went by the upper road and I had to pass that new roadhouse, the place called the Red Horseshoe. Well, who was sitting on the piazza but Jerry Koswell and Bart Larkspur. They had been having a gay time, I, guess, and both were talking loudly. When they saw me they called to me to stop, and then they asked me if you fellows had come back to Brill."
"What did you tell them?" asked Tom.
"I told them no, but that you were expected in a few days. Then both of them began to brag, and said they had it in for all three of you Rovers."
"Did they say what they intended to do?" questioned Tom.
"Not exactly, but Koswell intimated that if you didn't look out you might be blown up."
"Blown up!" exclaimed Dick, and he thought instantly of what Tad Sobber and Josiah Crabtree had said to Dora and Nellie.
"That's what he said. I wanted to find out what he meant, but Larkspur stopped him from talking and told him to shut up. But, Dick, I feel sure they mean something, and all of you fellows better be on your guard," added Stanley earnestly.
"This is surely getting interesting," said Tom. "First Sobber and old Crabtree promise to blow us up and now Koswell and Larkspur propose the same thing."
"They must be in league with each other!" cried Sam.
"It looks that way—especially after what happened on Casco Bay," returned Dick. And then he told Songbird and Stanley of the recent happenings near the Rovers' home, and elsewhere.
"Well, my advice is, keep your eyes wide open all the time," said Songbird. "Those fellows are desperate—their actions show it—and they'll play you foul if they get half a chance."
"And to that advice let me add something more," said Stanley. "Don't trust Dudd Flockley. He pretended to reform for a while, but behind it all I think he is as bad as ever. If you gave him any information he may carry it straight, to those others."
"Thank you, Stanley, I'll remember that," said Dick.
"So will I," added Tom, and Sam nodded in approval.
"Welt, to let you in behind the scenes," went on Dick, to Stanley and Songbird, "I am not so much worried about ourselves as I am about Mrs. Stanhope and Dora and the Lanings. Sobber and old Crabtree want that fortune from Treasure Isle the worst way and they'll do anything to get hold of it. Koswell and Larkspur are probably short of funds, and, as they like to live high, they'll help Sobber and Crabtree all they can,—for a rake-off of the proceeds."
"I reckon you are right," said Songbird. "But what do all of them mean by blowing you sky high."
"That remains to be seen," said Sam.
"Or rather felt," added Tom, who had to have his little joke. "Maybe they'll plant some dynamite under the college and blow us up!"
"Hardly that, Tom," returned his older brother. "But they may try some kind of a dirty trick along those lines,"
"Don't worry, boys, don't worry!" cried Songbird soothingly. "Let the troubles of the future take care of themselves, and then he murmured softly:
"Though the skies be dark and dreary
And hope be almost dead,
And hearts are all so weary——"
"Each one can go to bed!"
finished Tom. "A fine bit of poetry truly, Songbird, old sport."
"Who said anything about going to bed?" snorted the would-be poet. "I had a finer line than that, Tom. It was—er—it was—a—er—a—— Oh, dear, you've quite driven it out of my head!"
"Never mind, it will come back day after yesterday, or before and sooner," went on the fun-loving Rover blandly. "Now let us put away our things and get ready for supper. I'm as hungry as a wolf in a famine."
"That's right," chimed in Sam. "Aeroplaning can give one a wonderful appetite."
"It's the air," said Stanley.
That evening, after a good meal, the Rover boys had to tell of their various experiences with the biplane. Not a student of Brill had ever gone up in a flying machine although several had gone up in balloons at county fairs and elsewhere. The Rovers had to promise to take up half a dozen of their chums. So far during the fall, talk of football had filled the air, but now all became flying and flying machines. Several of the richer students promised themselves machines in the near future.
"That's the talk!" cried Tom, enthusiastically. "Then we can have some races!"
"Maybe we can even get up an intercollegiate aeroplaning contest," remarked Sam.
"I'm afraid it's a little too early for that yet," answered Dick. "But such contests may come one of these days."
The Rover boys were tired out from their day of labor and excitement and ten o'clock found them in their rooms ready to go to bed. Tom and Sam had started to take off their shoes when there came a faint tap on the door and Bob Grimes appeared.
"Hello, Bob!" cried Tom. "What can I do for you?"
"Hush! not so loud!" whispered the other student, with a glance over his shoulder down the corridor. "Listen, both of you," he went on hurriedly. "Don't ask me any questions, but if you don't want your biplane ruined be sure and guard it closely!" And having spoken thus, Bob Grimes hurried down the corridor and out of sight.