All Things Mysterious Volume Twenty-Four
Lieutenant Jones Takes Off--Part Two
See the previous post for the beginning of this exciting adventure!
‘Murder!’ exclaimed the shorter man, whose name was Taylor. ‘Are you sure, boy?’
‘Come quick!’ shouted the youngster. The derby wearer, who was Orville Wright, ran off back toward the machine, followed closely by Lt. Jones and Taylor and the kid. The flying contraption was nose-down in the sand, the back end pointing up at the sky. Wilbur Wright was nowhere to be seen, nor was Whitehead.
‘What has happened, Mr. Wright? Was it a crash?’ cried Taylor.
‘Don’t rightly know, Jess. Let’s take a look around. What did you see, boy?’
‘Moore’s me name, sir. I live with dad over yonder. I like to come along the beach and look for shells. But today I saw the flying machine! I never saw the like!’
‘Yes, but what is all this talk of murder? What of my brother?’ prompted Wright.
‘All I know, sir, is that the machine started going around crazy, up and down and all over, then it landed hard where you see it now. And Mr. Wright, he was lying in the sand just in front of those trees!’
‘Well, that’s hardly murder, is it? Now where is he? Never mind, I see him! Wilbur! Wilbur!’
Wilbur Wright, a short, thin, bald man, picked himself up of the sand and shook himself, rather like a wet dog, and walked a trifle unsteadily to where the others were standing.
‘Are you all right, Will?’ asked his brother. ‘Yes, yes,’ replied the other man distractedly. ‘Just trying to find out what went wrong with the confounded thing this time! All was well when, of a sudden, we started turning this way and that and then straight down it went!’
Young Moore chimed in. ‘Beggin’ your pardon, sirs, I thought for all the world that the gentleman was dead--and with the other man runnin’ off like that, I--’
‘Wait, what other man? And Wilbur, what did you mean ‘we’?’ asked Orville.
‘That confounded Whitehead! He begged me to take him up and against my better judgement, I did!’
‘That’s probably why you wavered and came down hard--the extra weight,’ said the Lieutenant.
‘Yes, that’s likely. Still, we should have been able to maintain a straight line, instead of wobbling all over the sky!’
‘Where did that scoundrel get off to, anyway? And why did he run off?’ asked Orville.
‘He was probably frightened that he’d hurt or killed me,’ offered his brother.
‘That could be, but--’
Suddenly they were startled by a shout from young Moore.
‘Look yonder, sirs!’
They could see two figures in the distance, walking along the sand and engaged in animated discussion. Darned if they don’t look familiar, thought Lt. Jones. One of them was Whitehead, the man he’d earlier discovered looking so sad and who was now looking decidedly chipper, and the other….was that Brand? It was! Now what the dickens was he doing here? Brand answered for himself when he cried, ‘Lieutenant! Do you know this man, Mr. Whitehead? He says he has built a flying machine superior to this one that Mr. Wright and I took up! Did you see us flying?’
‘No, I am afraid that I did not,’ replied the other man.
‘You should have seen us! That wet blanket got scared when we started weaving all over the sky! He positively turned green!’
This cheery assessment got a sharp reply from Wilbur Wright. ‘You were trying to sabotage my engine and my flying machine!’
‘Nothing of the kind,’ replied Brand. ‘I just wanted to see if my engine would fly the craft!’
‘And what would your engine be, sir?’ inquired Orville.
‘Took it from my son’s toy glider--see?’
And he held up a giant rubber band.
Check the previous post for books on mysteries regarding flights and aviation and the like. But see Rex Stout for rubber band-based mysteries:
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