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


formal agreement which will hold good in an international court," supplemented Captain Barrington.

A flash of resentment passed across the other's face but it was gone in an instant.

"Certainly, sir, if you wish it," he said, "but, if it had not been for those boys we should by this time have been far away."

"I do not doubt it," said Captain Barrington, dryly, "and, now, if you please, we will draw up and sign the paper."

Ten minutes later, with the boys' signatures on it as witnesses, the important document was drawn up and sealed with a bit of wax that Captain Hazzard had in his pocket writing-set. And so ended the episode of the attempt to seize the treasure of the Viking ship.

Now only remains to be told the manner of its transporting to the Southern Cross and the last preparations before bidding farewell to the inhospitable land in which they had spent so much time. First, however, the castaways of the dirigible were given transportation on the motor-sledge to their ship which, to the astonishment of all the American party, they found was snugly quartered in a deep gulf, not more than twenty miles to the westward of the berth of the Southern Cross. This accounted for the light and the buzzing of the air-ship being heard so plainly by the Southern Crucians. The defeated Japs sailed at once for the north, departing as silently as they had arrived.

It took many trips of the motor-sledge before the last load of the Viking ship's strange cargo was snugly stored in the hold of the Southern Cross. At Captain Hazzard's command the dead Viking was buried with military honors and his tomb still stands in the "White silence." Then came the dismantling of the Golden Eagle and the packing of the aeroplane in its big boxes.

"Like putting it in a coffin," grunted Billy, as he watched the last cover being screwed on.

All the time this work was going forward the nights and days were disturbed with mighty reports like those of a heavy gun.

The ice was breaking up.

The frozen sea was beginning to be instinct with life. The time for the release of the Southern Cross was close at hand.

At last the tedious period of waiting passed and one night with a mighty crash the ice "cradle" in which the Southern Cross rested parted from the ice-field and the ship floated free. The engineers' force had been busy for a week and in the engine-room all was ready for the start north, but another tedious wait occurred while they waited for the field-ice to commence its weary annual drift.

At last, one morning in early December, Captain Barrington and Captain Hazzard gave the magic order:

"Weigh anchor!"

"Homeward bound!" shouted Ben Stubbs, racing forward like a boy.

A week later, as the Southern Cross was ploughing steadily northward, a dark cloud of smoke appeared on the horizon. It was not made out positively for the relief ship Brutus till an hour had passed and then the rapid-fire gun crackled and the remainder of the daylight rockets were shot off in joyous celebration.

In the midst of the uproar Billy Barnes appeared with a broom.

"Whatever are you going to do with that?" demanded Captain Hazzard, with a smile, as the lad, his eyes shining with eagerness, approached.

"Please, Captain Hazzard, have it run up to the main-mast head," beseeched Billy.

"Have halliards reeved and run it up, Hazzard," said Captain Barrington, who came up at this moment, "the lads have certainly made a clean sweep."

So it came about that a strange emblem that much puzzled the captain of the Brutus was run up to the main-mast head as the two ships drew together.

"That's the Boy Aviators' standard," said Billy, proudly surveying it. "We win."

Shortly afterward a boat from the Brutus came alongside with the mail. "Letters from home," what magic there is in these words to adventurers who have long sojourned in the solitary places of the earth! Eagerly the boys seized theirs and bore them off to quiet corners of the deck.

"Hurrah," cried Billy, after he had skimmed through his epistles. "I'm commissioned to write up the trip for two newspapers and a magazine. How's your news, boys, good?"

The boys looked up from their pile of correspondence.

"I'm afraid we're going to have a regular reception when we get home," said Frank rather apprehensively.

"Hurray! Brass-bands--speeches--red-fire and big-talk," cried Billy.

"None of that for us," said Harry, "I guess we'll retire to the country for a while, till it blows over."

But they did not escape, for on the arrival of the Polar ships in New York the boys and the commanders of the expedition were seized on and lionized till newer idols caught the popular taste. Then, and not till then, were they allowed to settle down in peace and quiet to tabulate the important scientific results of the expedition.

As for the Professor, what he wrote about Professor Tapper--a screed by the way that nearly caused a mortal combat between the two savants--may be read in his massive volume entitled "The Confutation of the Tapper Theory of a South Polar Fur-Bearing Pollywog, by Professor Simeon Sandburr." It weighs twelve pounds, and can be found in any large library.

CONCLUSION.

And here, although the author would dearly like to detail their further adventures, we must bid the Boy Aviators "Farewell." Those who have followed this series know, however, that the lads were not likely to remain long inactive without seeking further aerial adventures. Whether the tale of these will ever be set down cannot at this time be forecast. The Chester boys adventures have been recorded, not as the deeds of paragons or phenomenons, but as examples of what pluck, energy, and a mixture of brains, can accomplish,--and with this valedictory we will once more bid "God speed" to "The Boy Aviators."

THE END.


The Boy Aviators' Polar Dash - 38/38

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