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CHAPTER IX


THE NEW ARRIVAL


"Say, that's great!"

"Be careful, Dick! Don't try too much!"

"He made a very good start," came from Captain Colby, who was watching the progress of the biplane closely.

Over the cornfield sailed the Dartaway with Dick Rover the sole occupant. He was up about fifty feet in the air and presently he went still higher.

"He's making the turn!" cried Sam. "Just look at him coming around!"

"Here he comes back!" exclaimed Tom. "Hurrah! Who says Dick can't fly? Why, he's flying like a veteran!"

"Very good, so far," murmured Captain Colby. "If only he keeps his wits about him he'll be all right."

"Trust Dick to do that," answered Sam. "He knows what he is doing, every time."

The biplane had now reached a point close to where the three stood in the field. All expected Dick to come down, but he did not. Instead, he made another graceful turn to the left, and started over the cornfield a second time.

"I wish the others could see him," murmured Tom. They had not told the folks in the house about the trial flights for fear of scaring them. Everybody thought the boys would not try to fly for at least a week.

Four times did Dick sail around the cornfield, the last time making such a wide circle that he went directly over the barn and the wagon shed. Then he shut off the engine and glided slowly to earth, coming down in the middle of the field with scarcely a jar.

"By the great clam chowder of Pocahontas!" cried Tom, rushing up and helping him out of the machine. "Dick, it was fine! Couldn't have been better!"

"It was immense!" put in Sam. "You made the turns beautifully."

"It was very well done," added Captain Colby. "If you do as well in the future you will have no cause to fear. As far as you are concerned, I reckon the worst is over."

"How did it feel to be up in the air?" queried Sam.

"Oh, I felt kind of funny in my head for a few seconds," answered the older brother. "But I knew I had to pull myself together and I did. After that it was only a question of watching everything closely."

"Now I guess it's my turn, isn't it?" asked Tom, impatiently.

"If you feel equal to it," answered the captain.

"Sure thing."

Once more the biplane was gotten ready, and with another rush and a whizz the Dartaway shot into the air. For a moment, as the machine wobbled from side to side, it looked as if Tom would have an accident, and his brothers gave a shiver. But then he managed to steady the machine and over the cornfield he flew, and around in a big circle twice. Then he made a still larger turn, well up in the air, and in a few seconds more was sailing over the barn and then over the Rover home!

"Gracious, that's Tom!" murmured Sam, "Always bound to go the limit!"

The noise of the engine caused those in the house to rush out and look at the machine.

"Who is running it, that aviator?" queried Mrs. Rover.

"No, it's Tom," replied her husband.

"Tom! burst out Anderson Rover. " Impossible! Why he doesn't know enough about it yet."

"He'll be killed!" moaned Mrs. Rover. "Oh, what a daring boy!" And she began to wring her hands in despair.

Over the house flew the biplane, and then made another turn and came back. Then came sudden silence.

"Something is wrong!" cried Anderson Rover. "The engine has stopped working!"

"He's coming down like a bird!" exclaimed Aleck Pop. "Now jess to look at dat!"

As he spoke the biplane glided slowly to the ground, landing near the barn. All rushed to the spot. There sat Tom grinning broadly.

"How was that?" he asked coolly. "Wasn't that a dandy initial flight?"

"Tom! Tom! "cried his aunt. "You'll kill me with your daring! Are you hurt? Did something break?"

"No, I'm not hurt, aunty, and nothing broke," he answered. "Oh, it was immense! I could have stayed up an hour if I had wanted to."

"Very good—very good indeed!" said Captain Colby. "You took a risk in flying over the house, but as nothing went wrong we won't say anything about that."

"Now it's my turn!" cried Sam.

"Has Dick been up?" queried his father.

"Yes, and he made a splendid flight too," answered Tom. "Oh, dad, your sons are born aviators."

"Perhaps. But, Sam, do be careful! Don't try to fly so high at first," pleaded Anderson Rover.

"I'll be careful, dad," answered his youngest offspring.

All remained in the field to watch the flight of the youngest Rover. Sam was a little pale, but just as determined as his brothers had been to succeed. He looked over the biplane carefully, then took his seat, and told them to start the propellers.

Once more the Dartaway arose, and as it did Mrs. Rover could not repress a shudder, for Sam was very dear to her, because he was her dead sister's youngest child, and she had never had any children of her own.

But her fears were groundless, for Sam sailed over the cornfield just as well as had Dick. He did not fly very high, but he kept in the air nearly ten minutes, which was longer than had either of I the others. When he came down he did so with a little bump, but this was not enough to hurt anything.

"It's the best ever!" was Sam's comment, when the others gathered around. "Beats autoing all hollow!"

"Wasn't you scared, Massa Sam?" asked Aleck, who had watched the flight with wildly-rolling eyes.

"Not in the least, Aleck, after once I got started. Just when I went up I had a little chill down my backbone, that's all."

"Glory to heaben! Say, yo' know wot I think? I think dare ain't nuffin wot you Rober boys can't natually do, dat's wot!" And with this comment Aleck shuffled off to his work.

"Every one of you did well," was Captain Colby's comment. He turned to Anderson Rover. "You can be proud of your sons, sir. They handled the machine in splendid shape."

"Yes, but I want you to watch them closely, Captain," answered Mr. Rover. "Teach them all there is to know."

"I'll teach them all I know myself," answered the aviator.

That evening the boys could talk of nothing but aviation, and many were their plans for flights in the Dartaway. All wanted Captain Colby to tell them if the biplane could carry three persons.

"I hardly think so," answered the aviator. "It will carry two, though, that I am sure of."

"Well, if it will carry two men it ought to carry three boys," insisted Sam.

"The best way to find out is to try it," went on the captain. "So long as you run with care, nothing can happen to you because of the extra load. Of course if the weight is too heavy the biplane won't go up, or if it does, it won't stay up."

The following day came a telegraph message from one of the old Putnam Hall pupils, Hans Mueller. He sent word that he would be in that vicinity and would call on the Rovers.

"Good for Hans!" cried Tom, who scented fun. "Maybe we can take him up in the Dartaway."

"Hans would be scared stiff," returned Dick.

"It would take all the starch out of him," said Sam.

"In that case, how could he be scared stiff?" asked Tom, dryly.

It was arranged that Sam should run down to the depot with the auto for the German youth. In the meantime Captain Colby and the other boys got out the Dartaway and prepared for more trial flights. Then Dick went up and remained in the air for twelve minutes, making a number of turns that were very graceful, and taking a little trip over the woods back of the farm.

"It's a sport that can't be beat, Tom," he said, on coming down. "I believe everybody will be getting a flying machine before long—just as folks have been getting autos."

The supply of gasoline had been replenished and the lubricating oil renewed, and then Tom went up. He flew around the cornfield twice, then headed in the direction of Oak Run.

"I guess he has gone off to meet Sam and Hans," said Dick. "I heard the train go through and they must be on the way here by now."

"Your brother certainly takes chances," replied Captain Colby.

"He always did. Tom acts first and thinks afterwards,—but he usually comes out on top," added Dick, loyally.

In the meantime Sam had reached the depot at Oak Run just as the train came in. He immediately espied Hans Mueller, dress-suit case in hand, and ran to meet him.

"Hello, Hans, old boy!" he exclaimed. "Glad to see you." And he shook hands cordially.

"Is dot you, Sam?" replied the German youth, who, although he had been in this country quite some time, still found a difficulty in mastering the language. "I vos certainly glad to meet you. How vas der udder poys?"

"Oh, Tom and Dick are first rate. They couldn't come down just now, for they are busy with our new biplane."

"A biplane, eh? Vot is dot, some kind of a sawmill alretty?"

"No, Hans, a flying machine. Hop in, and you'll soon be at the farm and then you can look it over." And Sam led the way to the automobile, threw the dress-suit case in the tonneau, and assisted the German youth to a seat in front.

"A flying machine!" cried Hans, as they started off. "By chimanatics! Vot you poys going to git next?"

"I don't know."

"First you get a houseboat, den an autermobile, den a steam yachts, und bicycles, und now it vos a flying machine. Vot you do mid him, Sam?"

"We are learning to fly."

"Vot! you going up by der sky in him?" cried the German youth, aghast.

"Of course—and you can go up with us too."

"Me? Me go up in a airship? Not on your neckties, Sam Rofer! I got too much regart for my neck alretty yet! Ven I fly I valk on der groundt und do it, yah!"

"Oh, it's dead easy when you know how, Hans."

"Dead, hey? Chust vot I dink, Sam—put I ton't vonts to pe dead, not chust yet!"

They soon passed over the Swift River and through Dexter's Corners and came out on the highway leading to the farm. Looking up into the sky, Hans suddenly saw something unusual approaching.

"Look, look, Sam!" he bawled. "Vot is dot?"

"Oh, that must be our biplane!" answered Sam. "Yes, it is! Dick or Tom must be running it. Isn't it great, Hans?"

"Du meine zeit!" groaned the German youth. "Of Dick or Dom be in dot he preaks his neck sure! Tole him to come town, Sam!"

Sam did not answer, but slowed up the automobile, to better watch the flight of the biplane. Tom was making a graceful curve, so that he might pass directly over the machine below.

"Hello, Hans!" he cried gaily, and waved his hand, for the noise of the engine drowned out his oral salute. Then with a rush the biplane sailed directly over the automobile.

"Sthop! Ton't hit me!" yelled poor Hans, and badly frightened he ducked his head, although the flying machine was fully twenty-five feet above him.

Then Tom made another wide circle and again approached the automobile. But this time he was sailing lower, and even Sam grew uneasy.

"Go up!" he yelled to his brother, and Tom tried to obey. But for some reason, the biplane refused to respond to the rudder, and with a rush and a roar it came directly for the automobile and its occupants!