THE FLIGHT IN THE DARK

At twelve o’clock that day, while Bud was busy on the aeroplane, Mr. T.
Glenn Dare and Attorney Cyrus Stockwell suddenly appeared before the
airship shed. Mr. Dare walked in briskly, took off his coat, and gave
every sign of taking charge of the apparatus. Bud shook his head.

“Strangers not allowed in here, sir.”

The expert laughed.

“Since I’ve a contract that calls for my being here, I was about to say
the same thing to you, young man.”

“I guess we understand ourselves,” replied Bud, with composure.
“President Elder has been in here several times this morning. He left
orders for me to keep all strangers out.”

“Perhaps you’re goin’ to put me out,” smiled Mr. Dare.

“I would if I had time,” answered Bud. “But I’m busy. Any way, that
ain’t the program. I’m just to tell you to get out.”

Mr. Dare laughed outright.

“Put me out,” he said banteringly.

“Jim,” called out Bud, good naturedly, and resuming his work on the
engine, “accommodate the gentleman. He wants to be put out.”

Jim Hoarr, the night watchman, who was curled up in a corner of the
shed, slowly arose and hitched up his trousers. Jim was not tall, but
his tight undershirt exposed such a mass of rounded muscle and chest
that Mr. Dare at once stepped back.

“Wot gent?” asked Jim sleepily, glancing first at Mr. Dare and then at
Attorney Stockwell.

“Bud,” exclaimed Attorney Stockwell angrily, “come here.”

“I’m busy,” said Bud, polishing the engine industriously.

The lawyer stepped over to Bud and caught him by the shoulder. The next
moment, Attorney Stockwell was sliding over the worn and dusty grass
outside the shed and Jim was hurrying back for another victim. But his
services were not needed. Mr. T. Glenn Dare had caught up his coat and
escaped beneath the canvas on the far side of the tent.

With difficulty Bud refrained from laughing. But he ran out after his
foster father.

“I want to apologize for that,” he began. “Jim didn’t understand.”

Attorney Stockwell was boiling with rage.

“I thought you told me you wouldn’t do this again,” he almost shouted,
“for less than fifty dollars a day.”

“Or nothing,” added Bud.

The lawyer’s face grew white.

“You ungrateful whelp,” he almost hissed. “Don’t you set your foot in
my house again.”

“Good-bye,” said Bud indifferently, turning away.

Attorney Stockwell was too full of rage to talk. As Mr. Dare joined
him, they turned and hastened away.

“That’s all we wanted,” said the lawyer at last when he found his
tongue. “Now you’ve got to come back when it’s time to make the flight
and offer to take charge. Have a witness with you, and if they refuse
to accept your services, you have a plain case. I’ll arrange with Judge
Clark to issue a writ this afternoon. As for this watchman, we’ll have
him locked up before night and discharged to boot.”

“How about the kid?” asked the expert.

Attorney Stockwell shook his head ominously.

“I’ll attend to him all right. Never fear as to that.”

Which meant that he was already sorry that he had ordered Bud away from
his house.

Attorney Stockwell represented a type of lawyers found in all small
towns. Without reputation for pronounced legal ability, he undertook
all cases that came his way and what he had told Bud was true; often
enough he gave his services for ten dollars a day when he could get no
more. Therefore, when T. Glenn Dare had called on him that morning and
offered him fifty dollars to protect his interests in the aeroplane
dispute, the lawyer forgot local pride–even overlooked the fact that
he might be called on to take action against his fellow fair directors.

If he had any compunctions on this score, they disappeared when he
learned that President Elder had induced his foster son to accept
service once more without recompense.

“Your redress is very clear,” Attorney Stockwell told Mr. Dare when the
latter explained all the facts in the case. “The contract of sale calls
for one thousand eight hundred dollars for the aeroplane, but it also
stipulates that you are to be employed for six days at fifty dollars a
day. The cost of the machine, is, therefore, two thousand one hundred
dollars. So far, I understand, nothing has been paid on the machine.”

“Not a cent,” explained the representative of the manufacturers. “The
First National Bank guaranteed the payment on the aeroplane proving
satisfactory. I’ve had no chance to demonstrate this.”

“That’s all that is necessary,” sagely commented the lawyer. “If the
directors do not give you that chance this afternoon, we will go before
the county court, secure a writ of replevin, turn it over to the
sheriff, and to-night, a deputy sheriff will levy on the machine. If
the directors do not then comply with their contract, you will have a
right to remove the aeroplane.”

At two-thirty in the afternoon, Mr. Dare reappeared at the fair-grounds,
but he kept aloof from the airship shed until he saw President Elder
appear. To the latter, he formally made application to be permitted to
make the flight.

“You’re four days too late, young man. You didn’t keep your contract,
and we won’t keep ours.”

“Then you refuse?” asked Mr. Dare, turning to the ’bus driver, Doug’
Jackson, who was with the aviator and on a pass which he had at last
secured.
NORFLOXACIN
“Is Doug’ your witness?” asked Mr. Elder, smiling.

Doug’ threw out his chest.

“Mr. Stockwell told me to come along,” he explained. “He give me a
pass.”

While this conversation was in progress, Jim Hoarr, the muscular night
watchman, had caught sight of Mr. Dare. Still eager to be of service,
he had approached the group. Seeing him, President Elder laughed.

“Jim,” he said, “Doug’ has a pass that’ll take him out o’ the grounds,
but I think Mr. Dare might like help.”

Before even Jim could get busy, the alarmed aviator had disappeared in
the fast gathering crowd.

A little after three o’clock, Bud made his second flight. The news of
the previous day’s exploit had spread not only through the town but
even into the near-by country, and the crowd was immense. The flight
was not as spectacular as that of the day before, but it was longer and
not less successful. Four times the perfectly working car circled the
half-mile track. The time, taken with great ceremony by the trotting
and running horse judges assembled in their stand, was officially
announced as four minutes. This, considering the turns, was remarkably
fast. Bud offered at the end of the flight to make another short
flight with a passenger but this was vetoed.

Hardly had Bud alighted when two eager figures pushed their way
forward. They were Madame Zecatacas and her son-in-law.

“Look here, Kid,” began the latter at once and extending an awkward
hand, “me an’ the ole lady has come to tell you we’re much obliged to
you.”

“For what?” asked Bud, pretending ignorance.

“Never you mind about that,” continued the man gruffly.

“We’re on all right. They didn’t make no bones about it. You squared it
all right. How ’bout it, ole lady?”

The Gypsy Queen reached out her brown hands, took Bud’s hand in one of
hers and tapped the ring, which he still wore, with the other.

“The Gypsy Queen sees good fortune for the young gentleman. Wear old
Zecatacas’ ring–it will bring good luck. She can give no more.”

Bud was sure he saw tears in the old woman’s eyes; but, pressing his
hand in hers, she said no more.

“It’s all right, Kid,” went on the man, “that means a lot. I’d rather
have it than money. We ain’t got nothin’–we’re poor people, but when
Jack Stanley kin do ye a turn it’ll be done. That’s all.”

How well Jack Stanley and Madame Zecatacas kept their word, Bud soon
found out.

The aeroplane trial at an end, every one seemed to forget Bud. Homeless
at last, he did not care much. So long as his engagement with the fair
officials lasted, he determined to stay in the aeroplane shed, which
he now began to call the “aerodrome.” His only regret was that he had
had no opportunity to say good-bye to Mrs. Stockwell. But he would send
her a letter. Meanwhile, with Mr. Elder’s five dollars in his pocket
to provide for his meals, he whistled at hard luck and counted himself
content.




Yet, as evening came on, the thought of Mrs. Stockwell bothered him.
So long as he belonged in her home, a failure to return at night did
not bother him a great deal. Now that he was not going back again, he
had a longing to tell her “good-bye.” Besides there were a few clothes,
his parents’ pictures, some airship drawings and a couple of books that
he felt he would like to have before Attorney Stockwell might take a
notion to destroy them.

One of these books Bud was determined not to lose. This was a new
story–“In the Clouds for Uncle Sam or Morey Marshall of the Signal
Corps.” Anything relating to aeroplanes interested Bud, and this book
was wholly about the new flying machines, but, in Morey Marshall’s
adventures, he had just reached the most exciting part.

“Whatever happens,” said Bud to himself, “I’ve got to find out what
came of the blue packet Morey found in his father’s old desk and what
happened to Morey and Amos when they ran away from home.”

But it was some days before Bud had a chance to renew his reading of
this tale.

In the early evening, he knew that the lawyer always spent a few hours
“up town.”

Allowing a reasonable time after the usual supper hour, Bud stealthily
approached the Stockwell residence from the rear, and entered the yard
through the garden gate. There was a light in the kitchen, but Mrs.
Stockwell was not there. Tiptoeing around the house, he heard voices on
the porch. One was that of a stranger. But he easily made out that of
the lawyer, too, and he stepped back. Mrs. Stockwell was not in sight.

“I’ll at least get my things,” he said to himself.

Making his way to the grape arbor, he shinned up to the summer kitchen
roof, and, in bare feet, entered his room. Without venturing to strike
a light, he felt around, got the articles he had come for, and then,
stooping in a corner, by the light of a few matches, he wrote a note on
the fly leaf of one of his few books.

“_Dear Mother Stockwell,” it ran, “your husban’ has drove me
away, and I got to go, but I’ll be back to see you some time
you have been good to me and I’ll be good to you when I can so
no more at presence from_

“_Bud._”

Opening the book on the table, he softly escaped over the roof. He was
about to drop onto the grape arbor, when voices sounded immediately
beneath him.

“Now, don’t wait for me, Mother,” said one of them–easily distinguished
as that of the lawyer himself. “I’ll be out late on business.”

“’Tain’t about Bud, is it?” asked the other–Mrs. Stockwell.

“No,” sharply replied her husband. “But he caused it. It’s legal
business. You can’t understand it.”

“I wonder why the child don’t come home?” said Mrs. Stockwell.

“Oh, he’ll be home all right. I’m going to send for him. I knew you
would worry about him again, so I told ’em to tell him you wanted to
see him.”

“Cyrus,” added his wife, “I don’t think you’re treatin’ Bud right. He’s
a good boy if he has half a chance.”

“Well,” retorted the lawyer, “you can treat him well to-night by
keepin’ him in after he gets here. I’m goin’ out to the fair-ground
to-night with a deputy sheriff and levy on the aeroplane that’s turned
his head. We got a writ of replevin this afternoon and a deputy sheriff
is goin’ to take the machine for Mr. Dare, who’s out on the front
porch. If Bud gets in the way or interferes, he’ll be locked up for his
pains.”

“Lands sakes, Cyrus, Bud ain’t done no crime, has he?”

“No, but he’s made a fool of himself. And he’s tryin’ to make one o’
me. I’m goin’ up town now for a while, and I reckon I’ll be home ’bout
midnight. You keep Bud here when he comes.”

“I’ll lock him in his room,” exclaimed Mrs. Stockwell nervously.

As the two passed into the kitchen, Bud slipped down onto the arbor,
recovered his shoes, glanced into the empty kitchen, reached into the
window and captured a generous slice of jelly cake from a near-by
table, and was off down the garden path.

By half past eight, he was again on the fair-grounds. He had had a half
hour’s walk in which to think over the thing he had heard. Out of all
the projects that flashed into his busy brain, one only remained. It
was a daring idea, but the more he thought it over, the more determined
he was to execute it. Before going to the “aerodrome,” he went to the
tent of the Gypsy Queen. When he left it, Jack Stanley was with him.

Bud and Madame Zecatacas’ son-in-law made a quick tour among some of
Stanley’s friends, all of whom, after a brief talk, seemed highly
amused. And when Bud at last made his way across the dark enclosure
within the race-track, Jack and four of his husky friends were gathered
in a knot in the shadow of the judges’ stand.

Approaching the aeroplane shed, Bud broke into a run and arrived,
apparently, out of breath.

“Jim,” he panted, “there’s trouble. Go right over to the ticket office
and get Mr. Elder on the telephone. When you get him read him this
message. Got to get busy.”

Finding a piece of paper, Bud laboriously wrote a few lines. Then,
taking the vigilant watchman out into the dark where he could not see
the message until he reached the office nearly a half mile away, Bud
folded the scrap of paper, shoved it into the waiting watchman’s hand
and pushed him forward.

“You’ll watch things while I’m gone?” called the hurrying messenger
over his shoulder.

“You bet I will, Jim. I’ll not leave her. You can trust me.”

As the flying watchman passed the judges’ stand, Jack Stanley and his
pals slipped around the little structure to keep out of his sight, and
then the highly amused group rushed toward the airship shed.

The perspiring Jim had some trouble in getting President Elder on the
wire, but when he did so, he read the fair official this note:

“_Mr. Eldur_

“_They have got up a skeme to take the air plane, and I can
beet em by takin it away where they aint no one knows where it
is. Dont worry about us, for I ll be on hand promp tomorrow at
reglar time for the show. Dont have no fear of nuthin for I m
all O. K._

“_Bud Wilson._”

When, in response to President Elder’s forceful injunction, Jim, the
watchman, reached the airship shed again, the canvas front was up,
the shed was empty, and only a smell of gasoline told of the stolen
aeroplane.