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- The Boy Aviators' Treasure Quest - 10/34 -
can stand it, but if the fire spreads it will burn down my dairy plant and destroy my home."
"Is there no other fire department near?" asked Frank.
"No, none nearer than Westbury," was the reply.
"Why don't you telephone for them?"
"We have tried to but, as luck would have it, there is something the matter with the wire and we cannot raise the Westbury exchange at all."
"If only the Westbury department could be notified they might still get here in time to save the house," cried another onlooker, "they've got an automobile fire-engine that just eats up the road."
"That's so, but how are you going to get them. It's fifteen miles away and a horse couldn't do it in less than an hour and a quarter."
"How about an auto?"
"Even if they was one handy, the roads are too bad, except for a high-powered car."
"I have it," shouted Frank suddenly. "I'll get the engines and try to hurry them here in time to save the house at least."
"How's that, young feller?" asked Farmer Goggins, who had stepped up. "Say that again."
"I said I'll get the engines for you and in jig time too," cried the boy.
"Don't see how."
"Well I do; watch me."
Leaving the horse in charge of a lad and calling on the others to "come on," Frank, with his brother and Billy, raced toward the Golden Eagle's shed.
Most of the crowd followed them.
"He's one of them flying kids," shouted a man.
"He's never goin' ter fly ter Westbury ter-night. It's as black as yer hat."
"Looks like he's going ter try," was the answer as the boys trundled the Golden Eagle out of her stable.
And this was indeed the lad's intention.
It was the work of a minute to test the gasolene tank and rapidly see that the engine was in running order.
"How can we tell when we strike Westbury?" asked Frank, as he and his brother clambered into the machine. Billy Barnes, it had been settled, was to wait at the aerodrome in order to save weight.
"Why, there's two red lights at the railroad crossing there and the village is just beyond," cried Farmer Goggins; "but, boys, don't risk your necks on my account."
"Oh, we are not risking our necks," laughed Frank reassuringly; "but, tell me, is there a good meadow or a bit of flat land there to light on?"
"The whole ground just beyond the red lights at the crossing is as flat as the back of your hand and unfenced," was the reassuring reply, "it is used for a circus and show ground. It will make a good place for you to light."
"All right," cried Frank, "that's all I wanted to know. Now then, Harry, are you ready?"
"All right here," answered the boy.
"Then let her go."
The propeller roared and as the craft sped forward, with a warning shout from Frank that scattered the crowd like chaff, the lad threw on the searchlight which had been rapidly adjusted as the plane was wheeled out.
A dazzling shaft of white light cut the darkness ahead of the Golden Eagle, as on her wings, tinted crimson by the glare of the fire, she rose into the night.
Frank headed her for the direction in which he knew Westbury lay, and gradually increased the speed till the craft, her great single eye shining like some strange star, was skimming above the sleeping countryside.
Far behind them, the cheer that had greeted the boys' rising died out and the glow, too, faded as they dashed along.
It seemed almost no time at all before beneath them they heard the roar of a train, and as it dashed by far below the two red lights of the crossing were sighted.
"Now for taking a chance," laughed Frank, as he set the descending blades and the Golden Eagle glided downward. It was "taking a chance," indeed, and the slightest mishap might have resulted in a catastrophe.
However, Farmer Goggins's directions turned out to be quite correct and the aeroplane landed perfectly in a big field, as smooth as a board, only a few minutes after she had left the scene of the fire.
As she struck the ground there was a wild yell from down by the railroad tracks and the boys saw the old switchman on watch there dart out of his tiny hut and dash down the road shrieking:
"Robbers! Murder! Ghosts!" at the top of his voice.
"Hi, there! come back," shouted Frank, "we won't hurt you."
At the sound of a human voice the old man checked his mad career and tremblingly approached.
"Gee! you 'most scared me to death," he said, as the boys stepped forward into the glare cast by the searchlight and stood revealed as two human boys and no spirits of the air, such as the old man had imagined they were, when they first alighted.
"Say, who are ye, anyway, and what are ye doing round here in that sky-buggy?"
"We have come to summon help from the Westbury fire department," said Frank, "can you direct us to the headquarters?"
"Sure, right up the street about six blocks."
"Good. Is there any one on watch?"
"Sure, some of the boys sleep there every night."
"Is it a good engine?"
"None better. She's an automobile engine. Goes sky-hooting 'long like a joy-rider. Just got her two weeks ago. Cost ten thousand dollars."
Leaving the garrulous old man to examine the Golden Eagle with timorous interest, the two boys ran at top speed down the street till they reached a building surmounted by a high tower and with a small red light burning over the door.
Frank seized the rope that dangled at one side of the portal and, rightly surmising that it was placed there to summon the firemen on duty, gave it a tug. The clamor that followed was startling. The rope was connected with a big bell in the tower, and as its clamor rang out several heads were poked out of an upper window.
"What's the matter?" cried a voice.
"Big fire--Goggins's farm--Mineola fire department bust up--hurry," cried Frank all in a breath.
"All right, we'll be on the job in ten minutes," cried the voice, and in a short time the big doors of the fire-house were flung open and lights switched on.
The Westbury fire-engine was the cause of just pride to its operators. It was a new type auto-engine and capable of making a speed of fifty miles an hour. While several men and boys, aroused by the clamor of the big bell, summoned the men who were sleeping away from the fire-house, the others got the engine going. Soon puffing and chugging like some fiery-eyed monster, the racing fire-fighter was ready to start.
"You know the road?" asked Frank.
"As well as I do my own face," was the merry reply of the chief.
"Suppose you fellers will follow in your buggy," yelled the chief as the auto-engine started on its dash.
"We didn't come in a buggy," shouted back Frank.
"S'pose you flew," sarcastically cried the man on the engine.
"Gee-whiz," was all that was audible of the amazed fireman's reply as the big engine whizzed off.
Frank's assertion called for some explanation to the crowd of bystanders, and after he had given an account of their trip most of the crowd that had got out of bed at the summons of the fire-bell accompanied them to the meadow where the old watchman was still eyeing the Golden Eagle with suspicion. So closely did the curious crowd press about that it was some time before the boys were once more aboard their craft and in the air.
Fifteen minutes later they were receiving the congratulations and
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