BUD DISCOVERS A FRIEND

Even the fragrant restfulness of Mrs. Camp’s spare bedroom did not make
Bud sleep soundly that night. For almost the first time in his life, he
was restless. In the morning, he was far from as lively as he had been
the day before.

“What’s ailin’ ye, Son?” began Mr. Camp when they sat down to the usual
ham, eggs and biscuits. “You don’t seem very peart to-day. Ain’t afeerd
air ye?”

Bud only shook his head and tried to smile.

“I didn’t sleep well,” was his answer. “I reckon I’m tired o’ all this
excitement.”

Mr. Camp looked at him closely, but said no more. When breakfast was
over and Bud started toward the sawing shed, Mr. Camp followed him.

“Now ye better git it offen yer mind, Bud. Tell me yer troubles.”

The boy made another feeble effort to say he was all right. Then, his
voice trembling a little, he said hastily:

“I’m kind o’ lonesome, Mr. Camp. An’ you folks have been so good to me
that it makes me all the lonesomer.”

The grizzled mill owner laughed.

“I don’t see why yer botherin’ ’bout that. We ain’t seen nur heerd much
o’ ye fur a good many years. But your folks was purty good friends o’
mother an’ me. An’ ye knowed Josh. Why, Bud, it seems almost like as ye
was related to us. We’ll be glad to hev ye come out here whenever ye
like.”

“I thank you, Mr. Camp. But I didn’t mean that exactly. I ain’t got no
home now. An’ I ain’t got no education. An’ I’m purt near too old to go
to school ef I could.”

“Ain’t got no home?”

Bud related how he had been cast out by Attorney Stockwell; how all his
worldly possessions were in the little bundle he had brought with him
the night before; and how he had now in his pocket just five dollars.

Mr. Camp’s whiskers worked violently. He tried to ask two or three
questions at once. Mainly, why Bud hadn’t told him this, and how
it happened that he was working for nothing in such a dangerous
enterprise. The boy satisfied him as well as he could.

“Now,” interrupted the old man, at last, “I ain’t got but one thing
to say. Yer a goin’ to turn over this craft this evenin’ to the fair
folks, air ye?”

Bud nodded his head.

“An’ ye’ll quit without no wages and without no home?”

Bud nodded his head again.

“Well, I’ve give Josh leave to take the old sorrel and drive his mother
to the fair to-day–I got to be the startin’ engine myself. They’ll be
there long afore you git there. When yer’s flyin’ ’s all over, ye’ll
git right into the spring wagon with ’em and come right out here to old
‘Stump’ Camp’s. This here’ll be yer home till ye git another.”

The tears came into Bud’s eyes.

“I can’t do that, Mr. Camp. I haven’t any money–”

“Don’t I need hands?” interrupted Mr. Camp, with assumed gruffness.

“If you’ll let me work for you?” began Bud. But again he was
interrupted.

“Ye don’t need to do that long,” Mr. Camp hastened to say. “Your
gaurdeen, Mr. Stockwell, didn’t spare me none last night. If I ain’t
mistook there’s somepin comin’ to ye, Bud. An’ I’m goin’ to make it my
business to see ’at ye git yer jest dues.”

“You mean the farm?” exclaimed Bud.

“Sure’s yer born,” continued Mr. Camp, rubbing his chin. “An’ mebbe
more. I’ve heered a good deal I ain’t said nothin’ about to you.”

“But there’s Jack Stanley and his wife! They are the only ones who can
help me, aren’t they? You said they could give me a clear title to my
property. I’ve got to see them before they leave the fair to-night.”

The old man slowly winked at the lad.

“Ketched,” he chuckled. “I didn’t mean to tell ye about it, Bud. But
after Mr. Stockwell got so fresh with me las’ night, I jes made up my
mind to hand him somepin’ an’ help you a little at the same time.”

The sawmill owner reached into the hip pocket of his trousers and drew
out an envelope. On it, addressed in an awkward hand, were these words:

“Mr. John Reed or Jack Stanley,
Fair Grounds.”

“That’s why Josh an’ mother air a goin’ to the fair,” he chuckled
again. “An’ ef this don’t bring my old friend Stanley’s wife and
son-in-law out to Camp’s Mill by to-morrer, I miss my guess.”

[Illustration: MR. CAMP DREW OUT AN ENVELOPE.]

“And you are doin’ this to try to get them to fix my property for me?”
Bud asked, his lip quivering.

“Oh, I’m jes doin’ it–that’s all,” answered Mr. Camp. “Now, you set
yer mind at ease. I ain’t askin’ no credit. I jes want to hear Cy
Stockwell swear. That’s all.”

When two o’clock came that day, Josh and Mrs. Camp were on the
fair-grounds. Instead of the somewhat stiff mill owner, one of the mill
hands had been substituted as the motive power to start the spring
wagon down hill. Mr. Camp, the two hands and Bud had safely conveyed
the aeroplane through the wood road, up over the hill (knocking down
two fences in the process) and the greased spring wagon stood like an
Atlas with the waiting airship balanced on its body.

In all its history there had been no such attendance on the Scott
County fair as poured through the gates on this Saturday. The story of
what Bud had done had at last become public, and the entire town was
alive with gossip and comment. The details became such a sensation and
were so well known that it wasn’t “Goin’ out to the grounds?” that
day. The morning salutation was, “Goin’ out to see Bud Wilson this
afternoon?”

Lafe Pennington, now fully recovered, had been a spectator of Bud’s
return and escape. He had the good taste to make no comment, but it
was a sore trial to his pride. After Bud’s spectacular exhibition and
flight the day before, President Elder, all smiles over his defeat of
the enemy, was hastening from the judges’ stand when he espied Lafe.

“Hello, Lafe,” called out the jubilant official. Lafe wanted to escape,
but he couldn’t. “Do you know what they’re all sayin’, Lafe?” continued
Mr. Elder, edging up to the embarrassed bank clerk. “They’re talkin’ it
around town that the old gypsy scared you. Folks say you were scar’t to
run the airship.”

“Well, let ’em,” retorted Lafe. “Talk’s cheap. They’d be tellin’
another story if they knew the facts. It ain’t much to guide an
aeroplane. But I’d like to see any one else in this town set one up and
get it ready.”

“Well,” continued President Elder, “you can shut ’em up next week if
you want to. If we get our dispute adjusted over the flyin’-machine, we
got an offer to make an exhibition at the State Fair. It’s gone all
over the state. Biggest thing any fair ever had.”

Lafe was visibly disturbed.

“How’d you like to try your hand up to the State Fair?” asked Mr.
Elder, with pretended seriousness.

“You gentlemen have made your choice,” faltered Lafe. “You’ve picked
out your operator. I ain’t takin’ none of Bud Wilson’s leavin’s.”




As Lafe hurried away, Mr. Elder smiled. Although Lafe was again in the
crowd the next day, he took good care to avoid the president.

Bud, now eager to escape from his responsibility, was a little ahead
of time in reaching the grounds on his last flight. But he did not
arrive before the crowd. The grand-stand, race track, and part of
the enclosure were jammed again. The nervous eagerness, the restless
scanning of the sky in all directions and the spectators’ impatience
were rewarded about five minutes before three o’clock, when the dark,
oblong aeroplane was made out in the sky north of the grounds.

This day, the band was prepared, and as Bud whirled into the course,
the vociferous musicians struck up La Poloma–more appropriate than
the leader knew, as the translation of the Spanish means “The Dove.”
But Bud wasn’t a white dove that day. Old “Stump” Camp, either from a
sense of humor or a love for the beautiful, had proposed and actually
decorated the bare aeroplane framework with flowers.

The gaudiest blooms in Mother Camp’s garden had been tied to the car
uprights, and right and left of the young aviator were bunches of pink,
red and white hollyhocks that met almost in an arch over Bud’s head. At
each end, there was single, mammoth sunflowers. Even across the track
enclosure, the decorations could be made out, and the usual “Ahs” and
“Ohs” soon swelled into a wave of amused admiration.

Again the crowd surged forward and back, horses backed and reared, and
the band umpahed and quavered.

With knowledge born of the previous day’s experience, the crowd parted
as the circling car came into the head of the stretch on its first
lap, and Bud had no occasion to call out warnings. He was greeted with
salutations of all kinds. This time, with growing confidence, he felt
able to look about. His eyes sought eagerly for his foster father, Mr.
Dare, or the deputy sheriff.

Then he smiled and the crowd yelled. But Bud was smiling because his
quick eyes had detected what he hoped to find. Over in front of the
deserted “aerodrome,” he saw the three men. He had guessed right. Since
the fair would conclude that day, Bud realized that there was no longer
any object in trying to hide the aeroplane. Whatever legal fight was
to be made could now be carried on without embarrassment to the fair
association.

“My work’s done,” Bud had said to himself. “All I want to do now is to
turn over the machine and get away. And I’m goin’ to get away quick.
They said I was under arrest. Not if I know it.”

Then the aeroplane approached the crowded grand-stand. As it did so,
Bud threw his vertical lever slightly to the starboard and brought
the car just in front of the packed seats. Every one sprang up,
open-mouthed and curious. As the graceful car drifted by the structure,
the young aviator, smiling, reached out to the nearest of his vertical
frames and jerked loose a large pink bundle. With another swift motion,
the mass of pink went whirling through the air toward the spectators.
Hundreds of spicy, clove-pinks separated and fluttered among the
outstretched hands.

At considerable risk, Bud jerked off his hat and leaned forward.

“For the ladies,” he shouted, “with the compliments of Mr. Elder.”

In the roar of thousands of voices, yelling and laughing, the aeroplane
shot by. On the back stretch of the track, Bud again made sure that Mr.
Stockwell and Deputy Pusey were at the airship shed. As he passed on
his second round, the cries were deafening.

“What’s the matter with the hollyhocks?”

“Give us a sunflower?”

“Have ’em all in a few minutes,” thought Bud.

As the third round began, Bud set himself for his finish.

“They’ll certainly figure that I’m going to come down to-day,” he said
to himself. “And I am. But not where they’re waitin’ for me.”

The natural thing for the aviator to do would be to pass by the
grand-stand, thus completing his third circuit, and then, at the lower
end of the track, to make a quick turn and head directly up the center
of the enclosure to the shed. What every one expected, Bud did not do.
He didn’t propose to stop for explanations or to be arrested.

As the aeroplane approached the grand-stand, Bud made a sweeping turn
into the track enclosure, shut off his power, and, with a graceful dip
over the heads of the spectators, sank swiftly toward the ground where
the crowd had thinned into groups.

In the crowd was one young man who noted every movement of Bud’s with
a trained eye. Neither Bud nor those standing next to the square
shouldered young stranger knew that Sergeant Morey Marshall of the U.
S. Signal Corps, stationed at Omaha, had been rushed to Scottsville on
the first express to observe and report on the daring flight of the
amateur aviator. If Bud Wilson had known it part of his composure might
have left him for, to the Hoosier lad, Morey Marshall, the hero of “In
the Clouds for Uncle Sam,” stood along side such operators as Wright
and Curtiss in skilful daring as an aviator. There came a time when the
two boys met and were glad to know each other.

“Ketch her,” cried Bud sharply. Almost before any one knew what had
taken place, twenty willing hands had the sinking car in their grip.
While it was still in the air, supported by the proud volunteers, Bud
drew his feet from his stirrups, caught the framework and dropped
nimbly to the ground. Hundreds of persons were already massed around
the mysterious craft. One after another turned to speak to or shake the
hand of Bud, but, somehow, when President Elder at last reached the
spot, out of breath, Bud was gone.

And, strangely enough, although it was early in the afternoon, the
aeroplane had no sooner landed than Mrs. “Stump” Camp and her son,
Josh, made their way to the hitch racks and hooked up the old sorrel.
Another strange thing–they did not go home by way of Scottsville, but
took the longer way east to the “slashings.” About a half mile east of
the road leading into the fair-ground, the old sorrel drew up, and Bud
Wilson, considerably puffed by his long run through the intermediate
cornfields, stepped out of a fence corner and climbed into the rear
seat.

About eight o’clock the same evening, two boney horses drawing a
gaudily-painted gypsy van passed over the Scottsville bridge toward
Little Town. It was Jack Stanley on his way to take Sunday dinner with
old “Stump” Camp.