OVERTURNED IN THE AIR

When Pomp closed the windows, he did not shut off the view of Barney,
but he paid no further heed to him.

All his care and watchfulness were necessary to guide the Jove properly,
and he turned his glance ahead again.

Frank had heard the Irishman’s frightened yell, though, and wondered
what had caused it.

Never suspecting the tragic occurrence, he went up into the cage and
glanced around curiously.

“Barney!” he exclaimed.

No reply was returned.

Nor did he see the Celt.

He became alarmed at once over the man’s disappearance.

“I say, Barney, where are you?” he continued.

Still no answer was given.

Frank rushed up on deck and glared around.

A moment later he heard a groan coming from somewhere in the gloom, and
then a husky voice crying:

“Fer ther love av Heaven, help me, Frank!”

“Where are you?” demanded the perplexed inventor.

“Hangin to a wheel on ther starboard soide, sor.”

Bending over, Frank saw him.

The Irishman was hanging below the flying machine, clinging to the after
wheel, which his hands had encountered when he made that awful plunge
earthward.

“Good heavens!” gasped Frank; “how did you get there?”

“Shure, I fell from the deck.”

“Hold on and I’ll save you.”

“Make haste, or it’s a dead man I am!”

His strength was fast waning, and Frank realized it, but the young
inventor was puzzled how to act.

The Irishman was in an awkward position to be reached, but Frank quickly
hit upon a plan whereby he might save his friend at a risk to himself.

Rushing into the cage he got a small coil of rope.

Hastily carrying it out on deck, he made one end fast to a cleat and
dropped the other end down.

Seizing the rope, Frank slid down, and getting on a level with Barney,
he found that a distance of about ten feet separated him from his
friend.

“Hurry!” groaned the Celt. “I can’t howld on much longer.”

“I’ll have you in a moment.”

“Begorra, yer can’t raich me from there.”

“Oh, yes, I shall.”

“How?” demanded Barney.

“You’ll see. When I grab you, you let go your hold.”

“It’s me loife will be in your hands.”

“Oh, I realize that, and will look out for you.”

As Frank spoke he wound one arm and leg around the rope to keep a firm
hold, and then began to swing the line.

Back and forth he swayed, each moment drawing closer to his imperilled
companion.

Finally he swung in arm’s reach of Barney and grabbed him by the arm, at
the same moment shouting:

“Let go.”

Having implicit confidence in the young inventor, the Celt obeyed, and
they swung back.

There they swayed like a huge clock pendulum in mid air, Frank holding
the Irishman by the arm with one hand.

Back and forth they tossed for several moments, the violent action of
the line diminishing momentarily.

Finally it had almost paused.

“Are you rested?” panted Frank.

“Yis, a troifle.”

“And I’m rapidly exhausting.”

“How are we ter git out av this?”

“Can’t you hang on to the rope a little?”

“I can that. Give me a grip.”

He managed to get hold of the line.

The line was grating upon the edge of the deck above, and straining and
creaking dangerously under the combined weight of the two.

For a few seconds they clung to the line, and Frank cast an anxious
glance upward at it, and muttered:

“I hope it won’t break.”

“Faith, we’ll both go down if it do!”

“Hey, Pomp!” shouted the inventor.

“Yes, sah,” replied the coon, from the pilot-house.

“Come out here—quick—we’re in danger!”

“Lawd amassy! I dassent leabe de wheel!”

“Fasten it.”

The coon obeyed reluctantly, for as soon as his hands left the spokes,
the soaring machine began to get unsteady.

It would glide ahead smoothly awhile, then would suddenly plunge to one
side or the other, or move up or down.

Out came the darky.

As soon as he saw the peril his comrades were in, though, he forgot all
about the Jove, and roared:

“Kain’t yo’ git up, sah?”

“Not very well without help,” Frank replied.

“Whut yo’ want me to do, honey?”

“Send down a noosed line.”

Pomp complied with the greatest alacrity.

While Frank held Barney, the Irishman put the noose around his body, and
Pomp fastened the end of the line.

In a remarkably short space of time the Celt was left hanging there and
Frank ascended to the deck.

As soon as he regained his breath, and recovered from his exhaustion, he
and Pomp hauled Barney up.

It was some time afterward before they had entirely recovered from the
effects of their violent exertion, and discussed all the details of the
matter.

As no one was injured, and Barney needed a good rest, he finally turned
in and fell asleep.

Frank then relieved his sable friend of the wheel.

“We will assume the first watch,” he suggested.

“To be sho’,” assented Pomp. “Am yo’ satisfied wif her, Massa Frank?”

“Yes; the machine is certainly the greatest invention I have ever turned
out. And she’s the simplest kind of an air-ship to work. It is only
necessary to elevate the angle of the propeller plane, drive her faster,
and ascend to any height. To go down, the impinging edge of the forward
plane is simply depressed, and she descends. To remain at a fixed
altitude we have only to keep the rudder perfectly horizontal.”

“No gas bags to bust wif dis high flyer.”

“And as long as our mechanism operates she’ll go ahead.”

“But s’posin’ de propellers done stop?”

“She would fall gently, as her planes would act on the wind like
parachutes,” replied Frank, promptly.

“Dat make her safer yet, don’ it, chile?”

“Of course,” Frank assented, with a nod.

“Yo’ gwine straight to de Gulf of Mexico?”

“I am. In two or three days we’ll reach it, too.”

“Dat am if nuffin’ happen, sah.”

Frank nodded and smiled, and examined the electric motors to see that
the current did not vary.

The dynamo was working under full load of five hundred volts, with an
output of thirty kilowatts at the terminals, and as the gloom of night
had fallen, Frank turned one of the switches.

It sent the electric current into the searchlight, and a brilliant flood
of fifty thousand candle power light gushed out.

A funnel-shaped streak of white light was projected a mile ahead by the
powerful lens, and the barometer showed the inventor that they had gone
up to a height of nine hundred and sixty rods, or three miles.

People on the earth imagined the searchlight was a comet with an
extremely long tail, when the clouds did not conceal its flight across
the firmament.

Although the wind was dead ahead, and the strata they were in blew at
the velocity of fifty miles an hour, the Jove was forging into it at the
rate of forty miles an hour.

Frank depressed the rudder, and the machine slowly drifted downward, as
she was then in an extremely cold region.

At two o’clock Zamora and Barney relieved the inventor and the coon, who
thereupon turned in.

The airship traveled stiffly, steadily and well for two days, traversing
the continent in a southerly direction and passing the most diversified
scenery.

When night fell upon the scene again the sky had a dark, ominous
appearance.

Indeed, Frank realized that as they were in the tropical cyclone region
he had cause to fear a heavy storm, and for that reason he refused to
retire.

Barney remained up with him that night.

Toward midnight the airship stood at an altitude of 5,280 feet in the
air, when a jet-black cloud was encountered.

She was rushing toward it, and the cloud ran at her.

In a moment she was shot into the middle of it.

Her entrance into the cloud seemed to agitate it.

At first the motion was easy, but gradually it intensified, and began to
shake and toss the Jove.

Then it began to whirl.

Soon this motion grew furious.

The airship was checked in its flight, and spun around with the gyrating
cloud at an appalling speed.

“A cyclone!” gasped Frank, in alarm.

“Look out!” yelled Barney. “We’re upsettin’!”

The Jove was suddenly hurled high up into the air like a mere wisp of
straw in the terrible blast.

It was then dashed downward by a reacting gust, and as it fell, it swung
over upon its side and suddenly capsized.

A scene of terrible confusion followed.

You may also like