THE ENEMY OUTWITTED ONCE MORE

Just within the race-track enclosure and in the shade of the judges’
stand, stood Deputy Sheriff Pusey’s side-bar buggy and his famous
roadster. The rig was known all over the county. Its appearance usually
meant the service of a writ, a subpoena or a warrant. It was a forlorn
hope, but, before the aeroplane had reached the far end of the track
again, the deputy and Attorney Stockwell were in the buggy and the
county official, his big official badge blazing on his blue coat and
his official voice demanding that the crowd give way, were forcing a
path through the packed crowd.

Before the horse could make much headway, the aeroplane was racing down
the “stretch” once more–this time even nearer the ground. As the whirr
of the engine struck on the horse’s ears and the wide white planes of
the car filled the width of the track just above, the horse reared,
lunged forward, and the aeroplane had passed once more.

“Hello,” rang out from the aeroplane at once. “Want me, Mr. Stockwell?”

There was a mutter of enraged words in the buggy, and then, the crowd,
alarmed at the horse’s actions, fell back in confusion. With a quick
command, the lawyer spoke to his companion, and, with a glance at the
aeroplane, already on the far side of the race-track on its next round,
the frightened horse was forced through the crowd toward the head of
the “stretch” down which the flying-machine would come on its next lap.

The turn was reached just before Bud arrived from the opposite
direction.

“Now, Pusey,” exclaimed the lawyer, grabbing the lines and whirling the
horse about, “get on the seat and serve him ef you can. Get your writ
ready. Ef he comes clost enough, grab him and hold on. I’ll take care
of the horse.”

Attorney Stockwell, whip in hand, headed the rearing animal down the
track, yelling to the crowd to get out of the way. The massed people
saw what was coming. Between the low-flying aeroplane and the galloping
horse, a second injunction was not needed. As the track opened up
before the snorting animal, already on a dead run, with its ears laid
back, Deputy Pusey sprang to the seat of the buggy, and began to wave
his writ.

Bud understood the situation as well as if it had been explained to
him. A provoking smile came on his face, and with a reckless daring
he headed the car straight at the deputy’s head. Down the stretch
together, came the foaming, galloping horse and the swiftly moving
aeroplane. Holding with one hand to Attorney Stockwell’s shoulder, the
deputy sheriff–he had already lost his official hat–waved his writ
and yelled:

“Hey, there, Bud Wilson, in the name of the law, Stop!”

“Busy,” cried out Bud. “See you to-morrow. Can’t stop to-day.”

“You’re under arrest,” shouted Attorney Stockwell.

The temptation was too great. Without answering, Bud gave the
horizontal rudder a slight turn, and the speeding car shot at the
deputy’s wobbling form.

“Grab him,” shouted the lawyer, as the car dropped.

Spurred on by the jeers and hoots of the thousands watching the strange
contest, the county officer made a feeble effort to respond. As he
threw his body up in a half-hearted effort to catch the car, now just
overhead, the aeroplane sprang up once more.

“Good-bye,” shouted Bud, “you’re too slow. See you later.”

Deputy Pusey balanced himself for a second, and then tumbled forward
between the foam-flecked horse and the light buggy. A dozen men grabbed
the bridle of the horse, and the lawyer, with an effort pulled the
deputy into the buggy.

As the machine sped by the judges’ stand, Bud heard a voice:

“Good boy, Bud,” it sounded jubilantly.

Bud glanced quickly, and saw President Elder, Superintendent Perry, and
a crowd of other laughing and excited fair officials.

“Be back at three o’clock to-morrow,” sang out the boy in response.

In another instant, his obedient craft was on the lower turn, and, with
the shouts and cheers of the assembled multitude ringing in his ears,
Bud prepared to make his escape. At the extreme end of the track, he
threw the lever of the vertical rudder over so sharply that the car
almost capsized. Like a bird with a wounded wing, the framework fell
partly on its side. Bud’s heart thumped. The ground seemed rushing up
to meet him. To even scrape the surface meant ruin to the car.

The boy retained his presence of mind and did the right thing. But
the car had lost so much headway that it did not respond at once.
It wavered, tried to recover itself and then, almost balanced, fell
within five or six feet of the earth. Escape did not seem possible. The
aeroplane was yet on an angle, and the low end of the frame was just
escaping the ground. If it struck, Bud’s work was over. Like lightning,
the thought came to him that he must jump to escape the wreckage.

Just then, with the spring of an animal, a man’s crouched form hurled
itself from the ground beneath the dragging end. Bud’s dry lips tried
to cry out, but there was no time. His eye was quicker than his tongue.
He saw the bronzed face of Jack Stanley, his gypsy friend, but no sound
came from the boy’s lips. As the gypsy’s face flashed before him,
something seemed to strike the car. A shock ran through the frame, and
then, as if caught by a gale of wind, the dragging end of the frame
flew up–the aeroplane, gathering speed, darted ahead, and the ship
righting herself, began once more to climb skyward.

“Go it, Kid–yer all right!”

These words followed after Bud as he renewed his flight, and he
realized that once again Jack Stanley had helped him over a crisis. Or,
was it Madame Zecatacas’ magic ring?

“If it’s the ring,” thought Bud, “I’m goin’ to have still more use fur
it. It’s got to make Jack and his wife sign the deed for me.”

Straight west over the “aerodrome,” the aeroplane took its new course
as steadily and easily as if had not just escaped destruction. Several
hundred feet in the air, Bud set the car on a level keel headed for the
“slashings”–the valley some miles ahead.

He was well out of the grounds when Attorney Stockwell and the deputy
untangled themselves from the dense crowd. But at no time, was he
out of the lawyer’s sight. To the indignation of the spectators, Mr.
Stockwell forced the deputy’s horse through the crowd and hurried
toward the fair-ground entrance. There was no rear entrance leading
in the direction Bud had flown, and in hastening to the main gate,
the buggy had nearly a half mile to cover before passing from the
enclosure. This was under trees and behind buildings that at once cut
off the view of the disappearing aeroplane.

The road leading to the fair-grounds from the main thoroughfare or
pike, ran north. Finally reaching the east-and-west road, the deputy’s
horse was put to a run. It was then a half mile further before the
flying car could possibly be seen, as, for that distance, the main
road ran between trees. It was not until ten minutes after the excited
lawyer and the bruised deputy had started on their chase that they came
out into the open road.

“There he goes,” exclaimed Deputy Pusey, when they did.

“Giddap,” shouted the lawyer, hitting the already galloping animal with
the end of the lines. “He’s goin’ like all sixty.”

Almost directly ahead, and perhaps four miles away, the aeroplane hung
like a bird. Without knowledge of what it really was, the object could
not have been picked out for other than a bird in flight.

“I’m afeered he’s given us the slip,” added the deputy.

“He ain’t goin’ far,” replied the panting lawyer, still slapping the
already jaded horse.

“You’re right,” sang out his companion. “He’s lightin’ a’ready.”

It seemed that this was true. The aeroplane, which was no great
distance in the air, was dropping slowly toward a distant line of trees.

“Comin’ down in the woods,” said Attorney Stockwell.




“Ain’t that the aidge o’ the ‘slashins’?” exclaimed the deputy.

“Looks like it. Well, there ain’t any place there to hide. It’s all
marsh or medder or underbrush,” argued the lawyer. “Anyway, keep your
eyes peeled to see ’at he don’t come up again on the fur side.”

Twenty minutes later, the pursuers mounted the high ground concealing
the valley beyond. There was a final quick dash down the gully road,
and the low ground spread out before them. The aeroplane was nowhere in
sight.

“Well,” began the deputy, “there ye are–all for nothin’.”

The lawyer pointed his whip ahead. An old man, apparently in charge of
a solitary cow whose bell had attracted the attorney’s attention, was
slowly coming toward them. The pursuers hastened ahead to meet the man.

“D’you see an airship sailing out here?” called out the attorney.

The herdsman looked up blankly. On a venture, Deputy Pusey addressed
him in German. Some intelligence came into the old man’s face. Then he
nodded his head and pointed north.

“He thought it was a big bird,” explained the deputy with a sneer. “And
he says it flew low like a hawk.”

He questioned the man some minutes, and then added:

“As near as I can make out, the kid kept down below the trees and then
disappeared in them. That means he probably kept going till he struck
the Little Town pike about two miles north. He couldn’t fly into the
trees. He’s took the Little Town road. Like as not he’s headed for
Little Town.”

The lawyer looked at his watch. It was three-forty-five.

“It’s no use to hurry now,” he explained. “We’ll go on till we come to
the section road and cross over to the Little Town pike. Then we’ll
go to Little Town. We’ll probably meet some one who’s seen him. If we
don’t we’ll get supper at that place an’ do some telephonin’. He can’t
hide that thing out in the open country.”

Some minutes before Bud’s estimated return, Josh Camp, perched upon the
roof of the mill, set up a shout.

“Here he comes,” was his cry to those waiting below, and almost before
Josh could reach the ground, the bird-like craft was slowly drifting
to rest in the mill place–the engine shut off, and the propellers
at rest. Eager hands caught it and eased it to the ground, and Bud,
trembling under the strain, climbed stiffly from his seat.

“I’ve had the time of my life,” he began abruptly. “Old Andy Pusey
chased me around the track with some kind of a paper–said I was under
arrest.”

“Are they after you?” interrupted Mr. “Stump” Camp at once.

“Sure,” went on Bud. “Mr. Stockwell and Andy had a buggy and Pusey’s
big bay horse. You can bet they’re after me. But I don’t believe they
saw me after I got in the ‘slashins.’ I didn’t see them.”

Bud’s hands trembled so that he could scarcely assist in disposing
of the aeroplane. But he was hardly needed. Before five o’clock, the
airship had been hauled into the sawing shed on the log car, drawn to
the roof by means of the waiting tackles and the false floor put into
place. To the uninformed, a glance into the shed suggested as unlikely
a place for hiding a forty-foot aeroplane as the top of a haystack.

It was yet an hour before supper time, and the irrepressible Bud and
Josh set out at once to select a place for the next day’s flight.

“An’ don’t be late,” called out Mrs. Camp. “We got fried chicken, sweet
potato pie and hickorynut cake.”

About the time the Camps, Bud, and the hired hands were attacking a big
platter of fried chicken, Attorney Stockwell and Deputy Sheriff Pusey
were making the best supper they could out of yellow cheese, dried beef
and crackers in the Little Town general store. This accomplished, the
lawyer, tracing in a general way on a county map the probable course
of the lost aeroplane, called by telephone those farmers who, in his
judgment, might have seen the airship.

Fortunately for Bud, the Camp’s Mill telephone was out of order. The
operator in Scottsville could not tell what was the matter. She had
no way of knowing that the wily mill owner had taken the instrument
off the hook just after Josh announced the returning aeroplane was in
sight. Josh’s report that there had been telephoning in Little Town the
day before was tip enough to the unlearned but crafty farmer.

But, unfortunately for Bud, an incident occurred in the general store
a little later that set the lawyer to thinking.

“Hey, Phil,” called out the proprietor, “I don’t see no charge o’ that
five gallon o’ gasoline Josh Camp got this mornin’.”

Phil’s excuse was lost on Attorney Stockwell. He looked at Deputy Pusey
significantly. The moment the officer’s horse had finished his oats,
the two men were in the buggy hurrying toward Camp’s Mill, a locality
as well known to both of them as to Bud. At seven o’clock, it was
growing dusk. When the buggy turned from the road into the open space
before the mill, Mr. Camp, Josh, and Bud were sitting on the porch, the
former with his cob pipe. Mr. Camp nudged Bud, who rolled off the edge
of the porch onto the grass and crawled around the house.

The greeting between the deputy and the mill owner was that of old
friends, but Attorney Stockwell did not stop for civilities. He became
officious at once.

“Say, Camp,” he exclaimed, “we have reason to believe you know
something about some stolen property.”

Before he could say more, the deputy interrupted his companion to
explain in detail what had happened. Then he added why they had come
to the mill, telling of Josh’s gasoline purchase.

“Well,” said Mr. Camp, drawing on his not very fragrant pipe. “Can’t I
buy gasoline if I like?”

“Don’t beat around the bush,” broke in Attorney Stockwell.

“Look a’ here, Stockwell,” exclaimed old “Stump.” “I never did have
the best opinion o’ you. I don’t like to say right out I think you’re
a shyster cause I ain’t lookin’ to start nothin’. An’ that’s more
considerate than some bluffers I know.”

“Have you seen the machine?” put in the deputy again, anxious to avoid
trouble.

“I don’t know much about the law,” drawled the mill owner, “but I got a
hunch I don’t have to answer that less’n I want to.”

“Don’t lose time with him,” sneered the lawyer. “You have the
authority. Search the place. I’ll help you.”

“So’ll I,” volunteered Mr. Camp. “Ef ye find any flyin’-machine on this
place or round about, yer welcome to it. Mr. Deputy, you do your duty.
An’ when you’re convinced, git.”

The lawyer and the deputy began rather unsystematically to look about
the premises, starting first for the lumber piles below the mill.

“Better look in the mill afore it’s too dark,” suggested Mr. Camp,
pointing to the sawing shed.

The lawyer sneered again.

“I reckon we’ll look amongst them piles of timber,” he exclaimed.

Deputy Pusey followed the mill owner up the little track to the long,
open shed and peered inside.

“Like to climb up into the attic?” asked Mr. Camp, carefully filling
his pipe, and nodding upward.

The officer smiled, turned and shook his head. When it was completely
dark and the two searchers had returned to the buggy empty handed, Mr.
Camp was sitting on the fence, his pipe sputtering and glowing in the
black night.

“Camp,” exclaimed Attorney Stockwell angrily, “I think you know a good
deal more’n you’re lettin’ on.”

“I reckon that’s right, Mr. Stockwell,” drawled the mill owner, without
changing his position. “I wouldn’t be supprized ef I told all I knowed
’at a certain lawyer might take to the woods. D’you find any airships?”

With a curse, the lawyer sprang into his buggy and drove rapidly away.
Before the buggy was out of sound, a small figure seemed to appear out
of the grass back of the silent man on the fence. It was Bud, a little
nervous, but with a wide smile.

“Say, Mr. Camp,” he exclaimed, “I was kind o’ scart when you askt ole
Pusey to git up there in the attic where the machine was.”

“How’s that?” asked the old man.

“’Cause I was up there, hidin’.”