Frank’s words wrung a groan of anguish from Zamora, and the declining
sun lent the Mexican’s face a haggard look.
“Poor little Leon!” he muttered, tremulously. “Shall we never save you
from the clutches of that incarnate fiend?”
Barney felt sorry for the man.
“Faith, it’s a week now since ther gang escaped us on that ship,” he
muttered, “an’ we’ve hunted the say an’ coasht well for thim, but
there’s no findin’ thim at all, at all, since ther fog shwallied ’em
“Gwine down to de sea, Marse Frank?” asked Pomp, who held the steering
“Skim over the sea along the coast,” advised the inventor, “and we may
meet the Golden Lion and save little Leon yet.”
It seemed to be a forlorn hope.
Pomp brought the flying machine to within a few hundred feet of the
He then resigned his place to Barney.
“I’se gwine fo’ to cook suppah,” said he.
“Lay ther coorse,” said the Irishman to Frank.
“Go to the eastward.”
“Aist it bes,” assented Barney, revolving the wheel.
The airship was quite close to a range of frowning cliffs that hemmed
the coast and advanced rapidly.
In the far distance was a solitary ship, almost becalmed, for the
weather was very quiet and hot.
Ahead a cluster of palms on a narrow, flat neck of land, projected out
into the Gulf, assuming the singular look as if they were growing out of
The Jove shot toward them.
As she drew nearer a gun shot was heard coming from behind the palms.
Frank expected to feel the shot, but was disappointed, and ordered
Barney to drive ahead till they investigated the shot.
“Peaceful people do not fire gunshots for nothing,” said Frank. “Outlaws
“D’ye moind that,” said Barney, pointing out at the ship they had first
seen lying off at sea.
“A puff of smoke is rising from her deck.”
“It is that. An’ she’s headin’ this way.”
They failed to see a shot strike, although the puff of smoke plainly
showed them that the shot had come from the deck of the distant vessel.
Frank suddenly changed his tactics.
Turning the Jove, he steered her shoreward.
“Where are yer goin’?” queried Barney.
“I’m going to land behind them rocks.”
“Phwat for?” asked the Irishman.
“To watch yonder craft from a place of concealment.”
“Ter foind out his game, av coorse.”
“Yes: his actions are very mysterious.”
A short time afterward the Jove alighted at a place where she could not
be seen from the Gulf.
Frank and his companions got up on the rocks and watched the distant
vessel very closely.
They imagined, of course, that she was one of Captain Diavolo’s fleet,
and resolved to pounce upon her at the earliest opportunity after
learning her intention.
The airship was then at least twenty leagues from the retreat of the
pirates, for the long search they had for the vessel that carried Leon
away had taken them far from the lair of the Coast Terrors.
“Zamora, you heard Diavolo say he had two schooners and a steamer.”
“Exactly so,” returned the dark-faced Mexican.
“Does that look like one of their ships?”
“Decidedly not. It looks more like a frigate.”
“That’s a fact. How queer!”
“I don’t know what to make of it.”
When the vessel got nearer they saw that she really was a man-of-war,
but failed to recognize her nationality.
She hove in within a mile of the coast, and then suddenly ran to the
west of where our friends laid.
This odd action was quickly explained by the sudden appearance of a
schooner that darted around the wooded promontory, which the frigate was
Upon the schooner’s bow was the name Chimpanzee.
As soon as Zamora saw it he exclaimed, excitedly:
“Why, here comes one of Diavolo’s vessels now.”
“Yes,” replied Frank. “And see, that frigate is heading her off, and
evidently means to capture her.”
“Bedad! we’ll see some fun now!” chuckled Barney.
“My Lawd!” roared Pomp. “See dar!”
The frigate had run toward what looked like a buoy, when she struck a
mine and exploded it.
A deafening report ensued.
The water at the warship’s stern was blown up.
Shocked, torn and wrecked, the gallant vessel rolled, pitched and tossed
The torpedo had done its fatal work well.
She began to go down by the stern.
“By heavens!” ejaculated Frank, in tones of intense horror, “those
scoundrels purposely lured the frigate upon that marine mine to destroy
“An’ dey done doed it,” groaned Pomp.
“The craft is a wreck!” exclaimed Zamora.
The piratical vessel paused.
A hoarse cheer rose from her crew.
Then a scene of great confusion ensued upon the deck of the warship, for
all hands had been mustered to prepare the boats for debarkation.
It was evidently the pirate’s intention to cut off their retreat to the
land by intercepting and killing them mercilessly.
With this purpose in view they were arming themselves.
“Unless we interfere,” said Frank, restlessly, “there is soon going to
be some bloody work done here.”
“Fo’ suah,” assented Pomp. “Dem yer yaller coons use dar razzahs on de
marines, I ’specs.”
“Can’t we interfere?” eagerly asked Zamora.
“Faith, we will that!” Barney asserted.
The young inventor saw the frigate go down, and all her ill-fated crew
were left afloat in the quarter-boats.
“They are absolutely at the mercy of the demons of the Gulf,” Frank
muttered. “Come on, boys!”
They quickly boarded the electric airship, and the young inventor,
anxious to lend a hand to his endangered fellow-beings, turned on the
As the screws turned the airship rolled ahead.
Impinging on the wind, her planes lifted her from the ground, and she
mounted higher as she rushed along.
Within a few moments Frank saw the schooner bearing down upon the six
boats, a large crew armed to the teeth swarming over her deck.
The rascals did not hesitate about firing, and as a deadly fusillade was
poured out at the marines many of the unfortunates fell killed or
“Zamora, take the wheel,” cried Frank.
“Hold the Jove over them.”
“Get some grenades, boys.”
Pomp and Barney procured the weapons.
Armed with these deadly missiles the three passed out on deck, and began
to hurl them down upon the deck of the piratical schooner.
The flying metal mowed down the rascals, and they quickly had their
attention turned away from their victims.
The sight of the flying machine filled them with horror, and most of
them made a rush for the forecastle, the cabin, and the open hatches to
But our friends continued to hurl down the bombs, and soon the missiles
set fire to the schooner.
As the blaze increased the yells of the pirates became horrible to hear,
and they rushed on deck.
Wildly they rushed for their boats.
Some of them did not wait for the boats.
They simply sprang into the water and swam away.
The rascals hoped to have some time, but the fire reached their magazine
by the time two of the boats were put overboard.
A fearful explosion followed.
High in the air the torn ship was blown, the bodies of over half her
crew mingled with the broken planks and torn cordage.
By the time the scattered remains of the schooner came down, the naval
soldiers were rowing after the two boats that escaped.
The crews of these two boats were rowing like mad for the shore, for
they expected no mercy from the crew of the sunken gunboat.
Before the rascals could reach the coast, the marines hove up and
The pirates were surrounded.
A deadly volley of shots poured in upon the screaming wretches from all
sides, and when the marines finished their shooting, not a pirate lived
to tell what had happened.