POMP’S ESCAPE

Most everything aboard the airship was stationary; but there were, of
course, many loose articles, and they were sent flying in all directions
when the machine capsized.

Frank was holding the wheel, and thus saved himself from being knocked
about, but the Irishman was sent flying.

He was slammed against the wall, then he was rolled over and over until
finally he laid on the ceiling.

A second plunge of the machine bounced him across the room, and he
seized a post and clung to it.

Pomp and Zamora fared equally as hard, and every one of them suffered a
tremendous thumping from the flying articles that pelted them all over.

“Look out you don’t go through a window!” shouted Frank.

“Be heavens, it’s black an’ blue I am, entoirely!” Barney groaned.

“We are falling earthward now!”

“Howly St. Pathrick! Sthop her!”

“I can’t.”

“Then we’re kilt!”

Down plunged the machine swiftly.

Its movement sent a sickening sensation through them.

A deafening thunder clap roared out close by, and at the same instant
there came a flash of blinding lightning.

The shock and glare were awful.

It seemed to Frank that the airship had been struck by the bolt.

At any rate the wind got under the planes a moment after she capsized,
and the speed of her descent brought an awful pressure to bear upon
them.

The result was that the planes were forced up, and as the car was
heaviest, it rapidly went down.

In a moment more the Jove had righted herself, and the speed of her
descent rapidly diminished.

A cry of joy escaped her crew.

“Safe!” exclaimed Frank.

“Begob, I kin hardly belave me eyes!” replied Barney.

In rushed the darky and the Mexican excitedly, and the latter asked:

“Has the machine broken?”

“Oh, no,” replied Frank. “We are quite safe now.”

“’Spec she done stood on her head,” said Pomp.

“Yes, she capsized, but righted herself.”

“Hadn’t yer betther start thim propellers?” Barney asked.

“Ain’t they revolving?” queried the inventor, in surprise.

“Divil a bit.”

“Queer. I left the current on.”

“Ef de Jove was gwine ahead, honey,” said Pomp, “I reckon she wouldn’t
fall dis way, would she?”

“No. Something must have happened to the machinery. I will examine it
and find out.”

As the inventor spoke he set to work.

The Jove was descending in huge circles, and the two great propellers
hung perfectly motionless.

Every few moments a violent gust of wind struck the machine, and spun it
around like a top or dashed her ahead, up, down, or sidewise.

The lightning kept blazing, and claps of the heaviest thunder rolled and
crashed incessantly.

Still they kept falling, and as the planes acted as parachutes their
descent was necessarily very gradual.

Finding nothing wrong inside, Frank passed out on deck just as the
machine dropped from the storm cloud into a perfect deluge of rain.

Although the inventor was drenched in a minute, he paid no heed to this
inconvenience, but examined the motor.

Here he found the cause of the trouble.

The lightning had hit the field magnet, glanced off, and tore the
insulation from the wire winding.

It thus was caused to leak, and as no magnetic influence was imparted,
the Jove’s propellers failed to operate.

Frank could not repair the damage then.

“Yo’ fine de trouble, Marse Frank?” cried Pomp, joining him.

“Yes; the magnet was injured by the lightning.”

“Golly! Kain’t yo’ fix it?”

“Not now. We’ll land in a minute.”

“Whar am we, chile?”

“Blest if I know. Over Mexico somewhere.”

“Dat yere gulf kain’t be far off.”

“I quite agree with you.”

The searchlight was now deflected by Barney, and it showed Frank the
ground below.

A number of tall, slender cocoa palms were scattered here and there, and
among them grew numberless huge cactus plants.

“There’s danger of hitting a tree, Barney!” cried Frank.

“Faith, it’s little I kin do wid ther ruddher,” the Celt replied.

“Try to keep her off them.”

“Shure, I have me oye on thim.”

Frank watched the ship’s descent keenly.

She was going at a gradual angle for the earth, and soon arrived within
fifty feet of the ground.

As she swept ahead, two huge palms loomed up directly in her path.

Barney made a desperate effort to avoid them.

“Look out!” he yelled.

“Can’t you turn her?” asked Frank, anxiously.




“Not an inch.”

“Then we’ll strike.”

“Bedad, I——”

Crash!

Barney’s remark was interrupted.

The Jove had gone in violent contact with the trees, and the shock
knocked Pomp down.

Frank was more fortunate, as he clung to the rail, and the coon fell
from the deck.

“Murder!” he howled.

“Thunder!” gasped Frank, in alarm.

He expected to find the darky a mangled corpse.

There was no time to see where Pomp landed, for the Jove glided
backward, and then darted ahead again.

She missed the trees, and quickly struck the ground, with several of her
stays broken by the collision.

As she landed at an angle upon her wheels she merely received a gentle
shock, and skated ahead over the ground for a distance of several
hundred feet.

Then she paused.

Out rushed Barney and Zamora.

“Do she be hurted?” asked the Celt.

“Not as badly as I expected,” Frank answered.

“I feared the worst, senor,” said the Mexican.

“Oh, she is strongly built.”

“Where’s the naygur?”

“The shock knocked him from the deck.”

“Bad cess to ther spalpeen, why did he fall at all?”

“Couldn’t help himself, I presume.”

“It’s ther undhertaker he’ll be needin’ now.”

“I fear he’s badly hurt. Come and see.”

They alighted and ran back, looking for the coon.

It was so dark, however, that they could not see except when the
lightning flashed.

Although they keenly looked about whenever they had the chance, and
reached the palms they had struck, they saw nothing of Pomp.

“Shure, he must have garn clane troo ther ground,” said Barney.

“It’s queer where he could have disappeared.”

“Hey, naygur!” yelled Barney.

As he ceased speaking a green cocoanut flew through the air, banged
against his head, almost knocking him down, and the nut burst and
drenched him with the milk it contained.

“Worra! Worra!” yelled Barney. “It’s a mane thrick fer ther loikes av
you to play on me, Frank.”

“I didn’t play any trick on you, Barney,” replied the inventor, in
surprise.

“D’yer mane ter say yer didn’t soak me wid a cobble sthone?”

“I most certainly did not.”

“Feel av me head; it’s broken intoirely, an’——”

Biff! came another nut just then.

It caught Barney in the breadbasket, made him grunt, and he doubled up
and fell to the ground.

As he did so the lightning flashed, and he saw the grinning face of Pomp
in the top of the tree.

“It’s that ebony gorilla!” he howled, and he sprang to his feet, spit on
his hands, danced up and down, and waving his fists, he yelled:

“Come down out av that, ye pug-nosed bandit, till I take a lung out av
yer!”

“Ain’t gwine ter come down till yer g’way,” replied Pomp.

“Be heavens, I’ll chop down ther tree, then!”

“Shut up, Barney,” cried Frank. “I say, Pomp.”

“Yassah.”

“How did you get up there?”

“Done falled here off de boat.”

“I see. That tree top must have been under her at the time.”

“Spec so, honey.”

“Come down. Are you hurt any?”

“Lordy, no. Amn’t eben scratched. Take away dat I’ish setter, an I come
down dar.”

Frank sent Barney away, and the coon reached the earth glad enough over
his providential escape.

Barney was so glad to see his friend safe that he did not molest him
when they returned to the Jove.

Despite the storm, the four got at the broken and damaged parts of the
airship and repaired them.

Then they set a watch for the night, and turned in with the intention of
departing at daybreak.

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