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The Boy Aviators in Africa   By: (1879-1917)

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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... Continue reading book >>

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