ATTACKING THE PIRATES’ LAIR

The morning was far advanced by the time the second shot came from the
fort somewhere along the creek.

The ball landed in the water near the stranded Jove, and Frank anxiously
gazed at the shore to see if the tide was rising.

It was impossible to lift the flying machine from the mud flat till the
tide came up.

The pirates in the rowboat had all gone ashore.

“One of their shots is bound to hit us if we remain here long enough,”
said Frank. “We must get ashore.”

“How kin yo’ lif’ de airship off ob de mud?” asked Pomp.

“I’ll find a means of moving her!”

As Frank made this assertion he pondered deeply, and finally passed into
the engine-room.

The dynamo was working at its full capacity, and the big propellers were
whirling furiously.

Yet there was not power enough to drag the Jove off the mud flat by
going ahead.

“Why not reverse the screws?” thought Frank.

It was an inspiration.

He tried the plan.

It was much easier to back the Jove from the muddy elevation than to
force her over it, he soon found.

Within a few moments she was dragged free.

A subdued cheer escaped her crew.

Back she went into deep water.

Once afloat Frank changed her course.

She reached the hard shore, left the lagoon, and ran upon the land
rapidly.

Then the Gatling gun was put in operation, and the crowd fled
precipitately.

Ignorant of the boat’s landing, the men at the fort kept bombarding the
water with shots.

Into the main street of the village ran the Jove, her huge planes
towering high as she rolled along.

“Erin go bragh!” roared Barney. “We’re off!”

Bang, bang, bang! went the gun, and a veritable hail of bullets whistled
through the streets and rattled against the houses as she ran.

“They fear us now, and are retreating,” cried Frank.

“Bueno!” Zamora replied, excitedly. “Head for the castle, and perhaps,
in their excitement, we may save my boy.”

Pomp ran forward to join Frank.

As he passed the compartment in which Captain Diavolo had been confined,
he saw the door standing open.

The coon was startled.

He paused and peered in.

Captain Diavolo was missing.

An open window showed how he escaped.

“Fo’ de lawd amussy!” gasped Pomp.

Then he saw that the pirate had severed his bonds on the edge of a piece
of broken bottle lying on the floor.

He had evidently knocked the bottle from a shelf and smashed it in order
to get the piece of glass.

“De prisoner hab escaped!” roared the coon, excitedly.

“That’s bad,” commented Frank, gravely.

Pomp explained matters.

When he finished the inventor stopped the Jove.

Barney and Zamora ran in, the latter shouting:

“Ain’t you going ahead?”

“No,” replied Frank. “At least not until we repair the planes. We are
crippled without their aid.”

“Amn’t dis rudder a dangerous place fo’ ter done dat, sah?”

“No, Pomp; for all the pirates are gone.”

Frank rushed out on deck as he spoke, and after a keen survey of the
injured parts, he returned within the machine, procured the necessary
tools, and said:

“Barney, come and help me.”

“Go ahead wid yer, Misther Frank.”

“Dem yere pirates gwine to swat yer wif a shot a minute yo’ poke yo’
nose out de doah,” cautioned the coon.

“You and Zamora keep guard,” replied Frank.

“Very well,” replied the Mexican, grasping a rifle.

The young inventor and his companion thereupon left the interior and ran
up the shrouds.

Quickly reaching the first plane, they set to work with a will and began
repairing it.

A patch was put over the hole and riveted.

This done, they ascended to the top plane and began to work, but in a
few moments a volley of distant shots was heard, and a storm of bullets
flew around them.

Barney gave a cry of pain.

“Shot?” queried Frank, in alarm.

“Shure; I have a bullet in me brain!”

“And still live?”

“Och, worra, worra! I’m a dead man!”

“Let me see where it hit you?”

“Clap your oye on me neck.”

“I see it.”

“Faith, tell me ther truth——”

“About what?”

“Will I doi?”

“Humbug! You only got a scratch.”

“May ther Blessed Vargin love ther spalpeen who chucked that bullet at
me!”

“Why?”

“Bekase he didn’t kill me intoirely.”

Frank laughed and resumed his work, and Pomp and the Mexican sent shot
after shot toward the sharp-shooters who had fired at their companions.

That ended the shooting.

Frank and Barney finished their task, descended to the deck, and entered
the cabin.

“Now we can storm the castle from the sky,” said Frank.

“If you can get into that building,” the Mexican remarked, “you can get
the treasure I told you of.”

“We must first drive out the inmates.”




“A hard job, I fear.”

“On the contrary, it will be quite easy.”

“How so, senor?”

“We will blow the building to pieces.”

“Be careful lest you injure my child.”

“Have no fear on that score, Zamora.”

Frank then entered the pilot-house, and drove the Jove ahead at the top
of her speed.

She had gone up a hill.

At one side was a cliff.

Frank steered her for it.

Straight to the edge she rushed.

It made Zamora shudder as she leaped from the cliff into the air while
going at a high rate of speed.

Out she flew like a gun shot.

Then she sank a trifle, but the wind cushioned her great planes and she
floated steadily.

Indeed, she had plunged ahead, and the inventor elevated the forward
plane, and she mounted higher.

Frank steered her in circles.

Around and around she went, and she rose to a height of several hundred
feet above the village.

Everything below kept diminishing in size.

“She flies as well as she did before the accident,” said Frank.

“Faith, she does that,” assented Barney.

“Looker de fog rollin’ ober de Gulf,” said Pomp.

“It’s very dense. But bring out some bombs.”

The coon and the Celt obeyed.

The weapons alluded to resembled huge steel cartridges and were loaded
with a dynamite-like powder.

Frank began to drop them out the window upon the big castle below, and
every one that struck burst with a loud report, and blew up a portion of
the building.

Zamora peered down through a powerful spyglass and suddenly exclaimed in
anxious tones:

“The pirates are evacuating the town.”

“I see them going in their rowboats,” Frank replied.

“There go some from the castle.”

“Can you distinguish them?”

“Several—yes, and there’s Diavolo.”

“The captain, eh?”

“He carries some one in his arms, and—ah, by heavens! it’s my boy! It’s
my boy, Mr. Reade.”

“I see him.”

“Down with you.”

“He’s entering a boat. There he goes out on the water!”

“Go down, I say!”

“Hush! Don’t get excited! Pomp, let her descend!”

The darky nodded his woolly head, and let the airship descend toward the
lagoon.

All the escaping pirates saw the Jove; a babel of excited voices rose,
and they pulled swiftly through the creek to the sea.

The fog rolled up just then and hid them.

Finally Zamora cried:

“There’s a ship—the Golden Lion—at the inlet!”

“She stands luffed up, and all are boarding her, too,” said Frank,
critically. “They design to escape.”

In a remarkably short space of time all the fugitives had boarded the
vessel, and she sped away.

After her flew the Jove.

But the fog swallowed the pirate cruiser, and it melted from view and
was not seen again.

Frank was bitterly disappointed.

“I’ll hunt for that ship till I find her!” he exclaimed.

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