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- The Boy Aviators in Africa - 1/35 -
Produced by Sean Pobuda
THE BOY AVIATORS IN AFRICA
AN AERIAL IVORY TRAIL
By Captain Wilbur Lawton
"Here, Harry, catch hold."
"Ouch--I dropped that cartridge box on my pet corn."
"Say, you fellows, are we going to Africa or are we on a Coney Island picnic?"
"Be serious now, Billy Barnes, you may be all right as a reporter, but as a shipping clerk you're no more good than a cold storage egg."
"Well, I'm doing the best I can," was the indignant reply, "here--I've got it all down: Box 10-- One waterproof tent, one rubber-blanket, tent-pegs, ropes, more ropes.--Say, Frank, what in the name of the 'London Times' and jumping horn-toads do you want so much rope for?"
"To tie up a certain young reporter named William Barnes when he gets too fresh," was the laughing reply.
The three boys sat about a heaped, confused collection of ammunition, cooking-utensils, rifles, and camp "duffle" in general, one evening late in May. The eldest of the group, a sunny-faced, clear eyed lad of about sixteen, held in his hand a notebook from which he called out the inventory of the articles piled about him as his brother, a youth of fourteen, sorted them out. The third member of the trio was a short, stocky chap of possibly seventeen, with sharp, blue eyes that gleamed behind a pair of huge spectacles. He was examining a camera with care; from time to time turning his attention to an open notebook that lay beside him in which he was supposed to be entering the list as the other called it off.
The place where the boys were busying themselves was the upper floor of a large garage in the rear of the Chester residence, on Madison Avenue, New York City, which had been turned into a workshop for the two young Chesters--Frank and Harry--already well known to our readers as The Boy Aviators. The well set-up lad who was so industriously calling off the equipment that lay scattered about was Frank Chester, and the ready classifier of the mixed-up outfit was Harry, his younger brother. The third member of the group was Billy Barnes, the young reporter, already down to us as the chronicler of the Chester boys' adventures in Nicaragua and the depths of the Everglades of Florida. Since the boys' return from Florida on the U. S. torpedo boat, the Tarantula, they had been busy putting into shape the rough working plans of the African hunting expedition they had planned as a sort of vacation.
The ample bonus the government had awarded them for their singularly clever work in rescuing Lieutenant Chapin, the inventor of Chapinite, by their aeroplane Golden Eagle II, had supplied them with ample funds for their trip. As for Billy Barnes (or "Our Special Staff Correspondent, William Barnes," as he was now known), besides the sum realized from the sale of the rubies the boys found in the Quesal Cave in Nicaragua, the money the youthful scribe had made on writing up the boys' Florida adventures had provided him with a good fat nest-egg.
The natural stimulus given to the red-blooded Chester boys by Mr. Roosevelt's hunting adventures had a good deal to do, with their resolution to go to Africa. And now--after several weeks of work on getting together as good an outfit as was procurable--they were putting what Billy called "the finishing touches" on their accoutrements. Stacked in corners of the room were big chests painted blue and marked with the boys' names and neatly numbered in white painted characters. These cases contained the different sections of the Golden Eagle II, the aeroplane equipped with wireless, that had made history in Florida.
There were twenty of these cases besides the ones labeled "Camp Outfit," "Medical," "Armory Chest," "Grub Chest," and several nondescript ones containing the odds and ends that an expedition of the kind they planned would find indispensable. In some smaller boxes also were packed yards and yards of bright-colored cloth and calico, spangles, cheap jewelry and brass ornaments for use among the natives. In making up their outfit the boys had taken the advice of a well-known African traveler who had retired from his adventurous life to purchase a place in New Jersey, where he intended to spend his remain days. Through a mutual friend the boys obtained an introduction to him and his advice in selecting the outfit had been simply invaluable.
"Go easy, carry lots of quinine, don't waste ammunition, and count ten before you pick a quarrel with a native," had been his simply laid-down rules for getting along in Africa, and these rules the boys had determined to adhere to strictly.
"Say, is this going to be a hunting trip or an invasion of Africa?" inquired Billy, quizzically as Harry sorted out and Frank read off ceaselessly the apparently interminable inventory of the supplies of the Chester party. "I'm getting writer's cramp."
"A hunting party of course," laughed Frank, "but you know that hunters who go into the bush depending on their rifles usually come out a good deal thinner than when they went in.
"That's so," assented Billy, "but when we have a sixty-mile aeroplane like the Golden Eagle II we can easily fly out to civilization in case of necessity."
"Yes, if we have enough gasoline," assented Harry, "but how much can we carry into the bush?"
"Just enough for our purposes and no more," replied Frank, readily, "fortunately the soluble tablets of picric and glycerine will help out our supply materially. A few of these tablets dissolved in gasoline render the efficiency of one ordinary gallon equal to three; but I don't care to use them except in a case of absolute necessity as they are very hard on an engine."
"Then we can count on every gallon we carry being of triple efficiency?" asked Billy.
"Certainly," replied Frank, who had invented the tablets in question, and which were an extremely useful addition to the equipment of the modern aviator. As the boys worked on and the equipment, as it was classified, was packed away in the cases assigned to each class of articles, there came a sharp knock at the door of the garage building and a servant entered with a special delivery letter to Frank. The boy tore it open eagerly and then gave a low whistle of astonishment.
"Read it out, Harry," he said, handing the missive to his brother. "It concerns all of us."
Harry took it and read as follows:
DEAR FRANK AND HARRY:
Shall be in town to-morrow morning with my father and Mr. Luther Barr, the well-known ivory importer. He has a communication of importance for you. What it is I am afraid to trust to writing, but you will know full details when you see us. Will you call at the Waldorf at ten-thirty and have breakfast? We can discuss the matter over the meal. All I can say now is that if the Golden Eagle is still in shape for her old-time stunts there is work ahead of her that will prove harder than anything she has yet tackled. However, I know you are not the chaps to balk at a little danger--particularly when exciting adventures are in the wind.
So long, then, till to-morrow:
"Well, what do you know about that?" gasped Billy Barnes, here we are fixing up for a nice little holiday trip to rest our shattered nerves, and here comes, a job along that looks as if we should have to work all summer."
"It certainly is curious," replied Frank musingly.
"What can Lathrop mean? Who is Luther Barr? I have heard the name but I cannot place him."
"Lathrop says he is an ivory importer," suggested Harry.
"Easy to find out," said the resourceful Billy. "Where's the 'phone book?"
Frank handed the volume to him from its hook beside the instrument.
"Ah--here we are," exclaimed Billy, as he ran his finger triumphantly down the "B" list. "Barr, Luther--that's our man, eh? Ivory importer, offices No. 42 Wall Street--home, White Plains."
"White Plains, that's where Lathrop's folks live," exclaimed Harry. "That's where he first became associated with the Golden Eagle."
"And turned out to be a good partner," added Frank.
"A jim dandy," agreed Billy. "I tell you boys, I've got a good nose for news and if there isn't some sort of a story back of Mr. Luther Barr and Lathrop's letter I'll eat my hat without sauce."
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