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- The Boy Aviators' Polar Dash - 1/38 -


THE BOY AVIATORS' POLAR DASH

OR

FACING DEATH IN THE ANTARCTIC

BY

CAPTAIN WILBUR LAWTON (pseudonym for John Henry Goldfrap)

Boy Aviators' Series

By Captain Wilbur Lawton

1 THE BOY AVIATORS IN NICARAGUA; or, In League with the Insurgents.

2 THE BOY AVIATORS ON SECRET SERVICE; or, Working with Wireless.

3 THE BOY AVIATORS IN AFRICA; or, An Aerial Ivory Trail.

4 THE BOY AVIATORS' TREASURE QUEST; or, The Golden Galleon.

5 THE BOY AVIATORS IN RECORD FLIGHT; or, The Rival Aeroplane.

6 THE BOY AVIATORS' POLAR DASH; or, Facing Death in the Antarctic.

CONTENTS.

CHAPTER I. The Polar Ship II. A Mysterious Robbery III. Off for the South Pole IV. A Message from the Air V. A Tragedy of the Skies VI. A Strange Collision VII. Adrift on a Floating Island VIII. Caught in the Flames IX. A Queer Accident X. The Professor is Kidnapped XI. A Battle in the Air XII. Adrift XIII. The Ship of Olaf the Viking XIV. Marooned on an Ice Floe XV. Dynamiting the Reef XVI. A Polar Storm XVII. The Great Barrier XVIII. The Professor Takes a Cold Bath XIX. Facing the Polar Night XX. A Mysterious Light XXI. A Penguin Hunt XXII. The Flaming Mountain XXIII. Adrift Above the Snows XXIV. Swallowed by a Crevasse XXV. The Viking's Ship XXVI. Caught in a Trap XXVII. The Fate of the Dirigible XXVIII. The Heart of the Antarctic

THE BOY AVIATORS' POLAR DASH

OR

FACING DEATH IN THE ANTARCTIC

CHAPTER I.

THE POLAR SHIP.

"Oh, it's southward ho, where the breezes blow; we're off for the pole, yo, ho! heave ho!"

"Is that you, Harry?" asked a lad of about seventeen, without looking up from some curious-looking frames and apparatus over which he was working in the garage workshop back of his New York home on Madison Avenue.

"Ay! ay! my hearty," responded his brother, giving his trousers a nautical hitch; "you seem to have forgotten that to-day is the day we are to see the polar ship."

"Not likely," exclaimed Frank Chester, flinging down his wrench and passing his hand through a mop of curly hair; "what time is it?"

"Almost noon; we must be at the Eric Basin at two o'clock."

"As late as that? Well, building a motor sledge and fixing up the Golden Eagle certainly occupies time."

"Come on; wash up and then we'll get dinner and start over."

"Will Captain Hazzard be there?"

"Yes, they are getting the supplies on board now."

"Say, that sounds good, doesn't it? Mighty few boys get such a chance. The South Pole,--ice-bergs--sea-lions,--and--and--oh, heaps of things."

Arm in arm the two boys left the garage on the upper floor of which they had fitted up their aeronautical workshop. There the Golden Eagle, their big twin-screw aeroplane, had been planned and partially built, and here, too, they were now working on a motor-sledge for the expedition which now occupied most of their waking--and sleeping--thoughts.

The Erie Basin is an enclosed body of water which forms at once a repair shop and a graveyard for every conceivable variety of vessel, steam and sail, and is not the warmest place in the world on a chill day in late November, yet to the two lads, as they hurried along a narrow string-piece in the direction of a big three-masted steamer, which lay at a small pier projecting in an L-shaped formation, from the main wharf, the bitter blasts that swept round warehouse corners appeared to be of not the slightest consequence--at least to judge by their earnest conversation.

"What a muss!" exclaimed Harry, the younger of the two lads.

"Well," commented the other, "you'd hardly expect to find a wharf, alongside which a south polar ship is fitting up, on rush orders, to be as clean swept as a drawing-room, would you?"

As Harry Chester had said, the wharf was "a muss." Everywhere were cases and barrels all stenciled "Ship Southern Cross, U. S. South Polar Expedition." As fast as a gang of stevedores, their laboring bodies steaming in the sharp air, could handle the muddle, the numerous cases and crates were hauled aboard the vessel we have noticed and lowered into her capacious holds by a rattling, fussy cargo winch. The shouts of the freight handlers and the sharp shrieks of the whistle of the boss stevedore, as he started or stopped the hoisting engine, all combined to form a picture as confused as could well be imagined, and yet one which was in reality merely an orderly loading of a ship of whose existence, much less her destination, few were aware.

As the readers of The Boy Aviators in Record Flight; or, The Rival Aeroplane, will recall, the Chester boys, in their overland trip for the big newspaper prize, encountered Captain Robert Hazzard, a young army officer in pursuit of a band of renegade Indians. On that occasion he displayed much interest in the aeroplane in which they were voyaging over plains, mountains and rivers on their remarkable trip. They in turn were equally absorbed in what he had to tell them about his hopes of being selected for the post of commander of the expedition to the South Pole, which the government was then considering fitting out for the purpose of obtaining meteorological and geographical data. The actual attainment of the pole was, of course, the main object of the dash southward, but the expedition was likewise to do all in its power to add to the slender stock of the world's knowledge concerning the great silences south of the 80th parallel. About a month before this story opens the young captain had realized his wish and the Southern Cross--formerly a stanch bark-rigged whaler--had been purchased for uses of the expedition.

Their friend had not forgotten the boys and their aeroplane and in fact had lost no time in communicating with them, and a series of consultations and councils of war had ended in the boys being signed on as the aviators of the expedition. They also had had assigned to their care the mechanical details of the equipment, including a motor sledge, which latter will be more fully described later.

That the consent of the boys' parents to their long and hazardous trip had not been gained without a lot of coaxing and persuasion goes without saying. Mrs. Chester had held out till the last against what she termed "a hare-brained project," but the boys with learned discourses on the inestimable benefits that would redound to humanity's benefit from the discovery of the South Pole, had overborne even her rather bewildered opposition, and the day before they stood on the wharf in the Erie Basin, watching the Southern Cross swallowing her cargo, like a mighty sea monster demolishing a gigantic meal, they had received their duly signed and witnessed commissions as aviators to the expedition--documents of which they were not a little proud.

"Well, boys, here you are, I see. Come aboard."

The two boys gazed upward at the high side of the ship from whence the hail had proceeded. In the figure that had addressed them they had at


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