The Flying Girl and Her Chum - Edith Van Dyne - ebook
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Perhaps they call them "parlor" cars because they bear so little resemblance to the traditional parlor—a word and a room now sadly out of style. In reality they are ordinary cars with two rows of swivel seats down the center; seats supposed to pivot in every direction unless their action is impeded by the passenger's hand baggage, which the porter promptly piles around the chairs, leaving one barely room to place his feet and no chance at all to swing the seat. Thus imprisoned, you ride thoughtfully on your way, wondering if the exclusive "parlor car" is really worth the extra fee.

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The Flying Girl and Her Chum

By

Edith van Dyne

 

Illustrator: Joseph Pierre Nuyttens

"Well, I declare!" exclaimed Orissa, sitting up.

 

CHAPTER I.THE GIRL WITH THE YACHT

Perhaps they call them "parlor" cars because they bear so little resemblance to the traditional parlor—a word and a room now sadly out of style. In reality they are ordinary cars with two rows of swivel seats down the center; seats supposed to pivot in every direction unless their action is impeded by the passenger's hand baggage, which the porter promptly piles around the chairs, leaving one barely room to place his feet and no chance at all to swing the seat. Thus imprisoned, you ride thoughtfully on your way, wondering if the exclusive "parlor car" is really worth the extra fee.

However, those going to San Diego, in the Southland of California, are obliged to choose between plebeian coaches and the so-called "parlor" outfit, and on a mild, sunny morning in February the San Diego train rolled out of the Los Angeles depot with every swivel seat in the car de luxe occupied by a passenger.

They were a mixed assemblage, mostly tourists bound for Colorado, yet quite unknown to one another; or, at least, not on speaking terms. There was a Spanish-looking gentleman in white; two prim, elderly damsels in black; a mamma with three subdued children and a maid, and a fat man who read a book and scowled at every neighbor who ventured a remark louder than a whisper. Forward in the car the first three seats were taken by a party from New York, and this little group of travelers attracted more than one curious glance.

"That," murmured one of the prim ladies to the other, "is Madeline Dentry, the famous heiress. No one knows how many millions she has just inherited, but she is said to be one of the richest girls in America. The stout lady is her chaperon; I believe—she's a distant relative—an aunt, or something—and the thin, nervous man, the stout lady's husband, is Madeline Dentry's financial manager."

"I know," replied the other, nodding; "he used to be her guardian before she came of legal age, a month or so ago. His name is Tupper—Martin J. Tupper—and I'm told he is well connected."

"He is, indeed, to have the handling of Madeline's millions."

"I mean in a family way. The Dentrys were nobodies, you know, until Madeline's father cornered the mica mines of the world and made his millions; but the Tuppers were a grand old Baltimore family in the days of Washington, always poor as poverty and eminently aristocratic."

"Do you know the Tuppers?"

"I have never met them. I strongly disapprove of their close association with Miss Dentry—a fly-away miss who kept Bryn Mawr in a turmoil while she was a student there, and is now making an absurd use of her money."

"In what way?"

"Haven't you heard? She has purchased Lord Tweedmonk's magnificent yacht, and has had it taken to San Diego harbor. I was told by the bell boy at the Los Angeles Hotel—bell boys are singularly well-informed, I have observed—that Madeline Dentry is to take her new yacht on a cruise to Hawaii and Japan. She is probably now on her way to see her extravagant and foolish plaything."

"Dreadful!" said the other, with a shudder. "I wonder how anyone can squander a fortune on a yacht when all those poor heathens are starving in China. What a pity the girl has no mother to guide her!"

"Tell me about the beautiful girl seated next to Madeline."

"I do not know who she is. Some stranger to the rich young lady, I imagine. They're not speaking. Yes, she is really beautiful, that girl. Her eyes are wonderful, and her coloring perfect."

"And she seems so modest and diffident."

"Evidence of good breeding, whoever she may be; quite the opposite of Madeline Dentry, whose people have always been rapid and rude."

The fat gentleman was now glaring at the old ladies so ferociously that they became awed and relapsed into silence. The others in the car seemed moodily reserved. Mr. Martin J. Tupper read a newspaper. His stolid wife, seated beside him, closed her eyes and napped. Madeline Dentry, abandoning a book that was not interesting, turned a casual glance upon her neighbor in the next chair—the beautiful girl who had won the approval of the two old maids. Madeline herself had a piquant, attractive countenance, but her neighbor was gazing dreamily out of the window and seemed not to have noticed her. In this listless attitude she might be inspected at leisure, and Madeline was astonished at the perfect profile, the sheen of her magnificent hair, the rich warm tintings of a skin innocent of powders or cosmetics. Critically the rich young lady glanced at the girl's attire. It was exceedingly simple but of costly material. She wore no jewels or ornaments, nor did she need them to enhance her attractiveness.

Perhaps feeling herself under observation, the girl slowly turned her head until her eyes met those of Madeline. They were gloriously blue eyes, calm and intelligent, wide open and fearless. Yet with a faint smile she quickly withdrew them before Madeline's earnest gaze.

"Will you have a chocolate?"

"Thank you."

The strong hand with its well-shaped fingers did not fumble in Madeline's box of bonbons. She took a chocolate, smiled again, and with a half shy glance into her neighbor's face proceeded to nibble the confection.

Madeline was charmed.

"Are you traveling alone?" she asked.

"Yes. I am to meet my brother and—some friends—in San Diego."

"I am Miss Dentry—Madeline Dentry. My home is in New York."

"And mine is in Los Angeles. I am not straying very far away, you see."

Madeline was piqued that her hint was disregarded.

"And your name!" she asked sweetly.

The girl hesitated an instant. Then she said: "I am Miss Kane."

Mr. Tupper looked up from his newspaper.

"Kane?" he repeated. "Bless me! That's the name of the Flying Girl."

"So it is," admitted Miss Kane, with a little laugh.

"But flying is not in your line, I imagine," said Madeline, admiring anew the dainty personality of her chance acquaintance.

"At present our train is dragging, rather than flying," was the merry response.

Mr. Tupper was interested. He carefully folded his paper and joined in the conversation.

"The idea of any girl attempting to do stunts in the air!" he remarked disdainfully. "Your namesake, Miss Kane, deserves to break her venturesome, unmaidenly neck—as she probably will, in the near future."

"Nonsense, Uncle!" cried Madeline; "Orissa Kane, so far as I've read of her—and I've read everything I could find—is not at all unmaidenly. She's venturesome, if you like, and manages an aëroplane better than many of the bird-men can; but I see nothing more unwomanly in flying than in running an automobile, and you know I do that to perfection. This Flying Girl, as she is called, is famous all over America for her daring, her coolness in emergencies and her exceptional skill. I want to see her fly, while I'm out here, for I understand there's to be an aviation meet of some sort in San Diego next week, and that Orissa Kane is engaged to take part in it."

"Flying is good sport, I admit," said Mr. Tupper, "but it would give me the shivers to see a girl attempt it. And, once a machine is in the air, you can't tell whether a man or woman is flying it; they all look alike to the watcher below. Don't go to this aviation meet, Madeline; you've seen girls fly. There was Miss Moissant, at Garden City——"

"She barely got off the ground," said Miss Dentry.

"And there was Blanche Scott——"

"They're all imitators of Orissa Kane!" declared Madeline impatiently. "There's only one real Flying Girl, Uncle, and if she's on the program at the San Diego meet I'm going to see her."

"You'll be disappointed," averred the gentleman. "She's a native of these parts, they say; I presume some big-boned, masculine, orange-picking female——"

"Wrong again, sir! The reporters all rave about her. They say she has a charming personality, is lovely and sweet and modest and—and——" She paused, her eyes dilating a little as she marked the red flush creeping over Miss Kane's neck and face. Then Madeline drew in her breath sharply and cast a warning glance at her uncle.

Mr. Tupper, however, was obtuse. He knew nothing of Madeline's suspicions.

"Have you ever seen this dare-devil namesake of yours, Miss Kane?" he asked indifferently.

"Yes, sir," she answered in a quiet tone.

"And what did you think of her?"

Madeline was powerless to stop him. Miss Kane, however, looked at her questioner with candid eyes, a frank smile upon her beautiful face.

"She has a fine aëroplane," was her reply. "Her brother invented it, you know. It's the Kane Aircraft, the safest and speediest yet made, and Stephen Kane has taught his sister how to handle it. That she flies his Aircraft successfully is due, I am sure, to her brother's genius; not to any especial merit of her own."

Mr. Tupper was staring now, and beginning to think. He remembered reading a similar assertion attributed to Orissa Kane, the Flying Girl, who always insisted on crediting her brother with whatever success she achieved. Perhaps this girl had read it, too; or, perhaps——

He began to "put two and two together." Southern California was the favorite haunt of the Flying Girl; there was to be an aviation meet presently at San Diego; and on this train, bound for San Diego, was riding a certain Miss Kane who answered to Madeline's description of the aërial heroine—a description he now remembered to have often read himself. Uncertain what to say, he asked haltingly:

"Do you call it 'aviatrix' or 'aviatrice'? The feminine of 'aviator,' you know."

"I should say 'aviatress,' now that you appeal to me," was the laughing reply. "Some of the newspaper men, who love to coin new words, have tried to saddle 'aviatrice' on the girl aviator, and the French have dubbed her 'aviatrix' without rhyme or reason. It seems to me that if 'seamstress,' 'governess' or 'hostess' is proper, 'aviatress' is also correct and, moreover, it is thoroughly American. But in—in the profession—on the aviation field—they call themselves 'aviators,' whether men or women, just as an author is always an 'author,' regardless of sex."

Mr. Tupper had made up his mind, by this time. He reasoned that a girl who talked so professionally of aviation terms must be something more than a novice, and straggled to remember if he had inadvertently said anything to annoy or humiliate Miss Kane. For, if the little maid so demurely seated before him was indeed the famous Flying Girl, the gentleman admitted he had good reason to admire her. Madeline was watching his embarrassment with an expression of amusement, but would not help him out of his dilemma. So Mr. Tupper went straight to the heart of the misunderstanding, as perhaps was best under the circumstances.

"Your first name is Orissa?" he inquired, gently.

"It is, sir."

"Won't you have another chocolate!" asked Madeline.

Orissa took another chocolate, reflecting how impossible it seemed to hide her identity, even from utter strangers. Not that she regretted, in any way, the celebrity she had gained by flying her brother Stephen's Aircraft, but it would have been so nice to have ridden to-day with these pleasant people without listening to the perfunctory words of praise and adulation so persistently lavished upon her since she had acquired fame.

"I knew Cumberford some years ago," continued Mr. Tupper, rather aimlessly. "Cumberford's your manager, I believe!"

"Yes, sir; and my brother's partner."

"Good chap, Cumberford. Had a queer daughter, I remember; an impossible child, with the airs of a princess and the eyes of a sorceress. She's grown up, by this time, I suppose."

Miss Kane smiled.

"Sybil Cumberford is my best chum," she replied. "The description still applies, so far as the airs and eyes are concerned; but the child is a young lady now, and a very lovable young lady, her friends think."

"Doubtless, doubtless," Mr. Tupper said hastily. "If Cumberford is in San Diego I shall be glad to renew our acquaintance."

"You are bound for Coronado, I suppose," remarked Orissa, to change the subject.

"Only for a few days' stay," Madeline answered. "Then we expect to make a sea voyage to Honolulu."

"That will be delightful," said the girl. "I've lived many years on the shores of the Pacific, but have never made a voyage farther to sea than Catalina. I'm told Honolulu is a fascinating place; but it needs be to draw one away from Coronado."

"You like Coronado, then?"

"All this South Country is a real paradise," declared Orissa. "I have had opportunity to compare it with other parts of America, and love it better after each comparison. But I am ignorant of foreign countries, and can only say that if they excel Southern California they are too good for humans to live in and ought to be sacred to the fairies."

Madeline laughed gayly.

"I know you now!" she exclaimed; "you are what is called out here a 'booster.' But from my limited experience in your earthly paradise I cannot blame you."

"Yes, we are all 'boosters,'" asserted the younger girl, "and I'm positive you will join our ranks presently. I love this country especially because one can fly here winter and summer."

"You are fond of flying?"

"Yes. At first I didn't care very much for it, but it grows on one until its fascinations are irresistible. I have the most glorious sense of freedom when I'm in the air—way up, where I love best to be—but during my recent exhibitions in the East I nearly froze making the high flights. It is a little cold even here when you are half a mile up, but it is by no means unbearable."

"They call you a 'dare-devil,' in the newspapers," remarked Mr. Tupper, eyeing her reflectively; "but I can scarcely believe one so—so young and—and—girlish has ventured to do all the foolish aërial tricks you are credited with."

Mrs. Tupper had by this time opened her eyes and was now listening in amazement.

"Yes," she added, reprovingly, "all those spiral dips and volplaning and—and—figure-eights are more suited to a circus performer than to a young girl, it seems to me."

This lady's face persistently wore a bland and unmeaning smile, which had been so carefully cultivated in her youth that it had become habitual and wreathed her chubby features even when she was asleep, giving one the impression that she wore a mask. Now her stern eyes belied the smirk of her face, but Orissa merely smiled.

"I am not a 'dare-devil,' I assure you," she said, addressing Mr. Tupper rather than his wife. "I know the newspapers call me that, and compare me with the witch on a broomstick; but in truth I am as calculating and cold as any aviator in America. Everything I do is figured out with mathematical precision and I never take a single chance that I can foresee. I know the air currents, and all their whims and peculiarities, and how to counteract them. What may seem to the spectators to be daring, and even desperate, is often the safest mode of flying, provided you understand your machine and the conditions ofthe air. To volplane from a height of five or ten thousand feet, for example, is safer than from a slight elevation, for the further you drop the better air-cushion is formed under your planes, and you ride as gently as when suspended from a parachute."

Madeline was listening eagerly.

"Are you afraid?" she asked.

"Afraid? Why should I be, with my brother's wonderful engine at my back and perfect control of every part of my machine?"

"Suppose the engine should some time fail you?"

"Then I would volplane to the ground."

"And if the planes, or braces, or fastenings break?"

"No fear of that. The Kane Aircraft is strong enough for any aërial purpose and I examine every brace and strut before I start my fight—merely to satisfy myself they have not been maliciously tampered with."

Then Madeline sprung her important question:

"Do you ever take a passenger?"

Orissa regarded Miss Dentry with a whimsical smile.

"Sometimes," she said. "Do you imagine you would like to fly?"

"No—no, indeed!" cried Mr. Tupper in a horrified voice, and Mrs. Tapper echoed; "How absurd!" But Madeline answered quietly:

"If you could manage to take me I am sure I would enjoy the experience."

"I will consider it and let you know later," said the Flying Girl, thoughtfully. "My chum, Sybil Cumberford, has made several short flights with me; but Sybil's head is perfectly balanced and no altitude affects it. Often those who believe they would enjoy flying become terrified once they are in the air."

"Nothing could terrify Madeline, I am sure," asserted Mrs. Tupper, in a rasping voice; "but she is too important a personage to risk her life foolishly. I shall insist that she at once abandon the preposterous idea. Abandon it, Madeline! I thought your new yacht a venturesome thing to indulge in, but flying is far, far worse."

"Oh; have you a yacht?" inquired Orissa, turning eagerly to the other girl.

"Yes; the Salvador. It is now lying in San Diego harbor. I've not seen my new craft as yet, but intend it shall take us to Honolulu and perhaps to Japan."

"How delightful," cried Orissa, with enthusiasm.

"Would you like to join our party?"

"Oh, thank you; I couldn't," quite regretfully; "I am too busy just now advancing the fortunes of my brother Stephen, who is really the most clever inventor of aëroplanes in the world. Don't smile, please; he is, indeed! The world may not admit it as yet, but it soon will. Have you heard of his latest contrivance? It is a Hydro-Aircraft, and its engines propel it equally as well on water as on land."

"Then it beats my yacht," said Madeline, smiling.

"It is more adaptable—more versatile—to be sure," said Orissa. "Stephen has just completed his first Hydro-Aircraft, and while I am in San Diego I shall test it and make a long trip over the Pacific Ocean to exploit its powers. Such a machine would not take the place of a yacht, you know, and the motor boat attachment is merely a safety device to allow one to fly over water as well as over land. Then, if you are obliged to descend, your aircraft becomes a motor boat and the engines propel it to the shore."

"Does your brother use the Gnome engines?" inquired Mr. Tupper.

"No; Stephen makes his own engines, which I think are better than any others," answered Miss Kane.

By the time the train drew into the station at San Diego, Madeline Dentry and her companions, the Tuppers, knew considerably more of aëroplanes than the average layman, for Orissa Kane enjoyed explaining the various machines and, young and unassuming as she appeared, understood every minute detail of their manufacture. She had been her brother's assistant and companion from the time of his first experiments and intelligently followed the creation and development of the now famous Kane Aircraft.

At the depot a large crowd was in waiting, not gathered to meet the great heiress, Madeline Dentry, but the quiet slip of a girl whose name was on every tongue and whose marvelous skill as a bird-maid had aroused the admiration of every person interested in aërial sports. On the billboards were glaring posters of "The Flying Girl," the chief attraction of the coming aviation meet, and the news of her expected arrival had drawn many curious inhabitants of the Sunshine City to the depot, as well as the friends congregated to greet her.

First of all a tall, fine looking fellow, who limped slightly, sprang forward to meet Orissa at the car steps and gave her a kiss and a hug. This was Stephen Kane, the airship inventor, and close behind him stood a grizzled gentleman in a long gray coat and jaunty Scotch cap. It was Mr. Cumberford, the "angel" and manager of the youthful Kanes, the man whose vast wealth had financed the Kane Aircraft and enabled the boy and girl to carry out their ambitious plans. This strange man had neither ambition to acquire more money nor to secure fame by undertaking to pilot the Aircraft to success; as he stood here, his bored expression, in sharp contrast to the shrewd gray eyes that twinkled behind his spectacles, clearly indicated this fact; but a little kindness had won him to befriend the young people and he had rendered them staunch support.

On Mr. Cumberford's arm was a slender girl dressed all in black, the nodding sable plumes of whose broad hat nearly hid Orissa from view as the two girls exchanged a kiss. Sybil Cumberford had no claim to beauty except for her dark eyes—so fathomless and mysterious that they awed all but her most intimate friends, and puzzled even them.

And now an awkward young fellow—six feet three and built like an athlete—slouched bashfully forward and gripped Orissa Kane's outstretched hand. Here was the press agent of the Kane-Cumberford alliance, Mr. H. Chesterton Radley-Todd; a most astonishing youth who impressed strangers as being a dummy and his friends as the possessor of a rarely keen intellect. Orissa smiled at him; there was something humorous about Radley-Todd's loose-jointed, unwieldy personality. Then she took her brother's arm and passed through the eager, admiring throng to the automobile in waiting.

Beside Mr. Cumberford's car stood a handsome equipage that had been sent for Miss Dentry's party, and as Orissa nodded to her recent acquaintances Sybil Cumberford inquired:

"Who is that girl?"

"A Miss Dentry, of New York, with whom I exchanged some remarks on the train. She has a yacht in the bay here."

"Oh, yes; I've heard all about her," returned Sybil, indifferently. "She's dreadfully rich; rather snubbed New York society, which was eager to idolize her—says she's too young for the weary, heart-breaking grind—and indulges in such remarkable fancies that she's getting herself talked about. I hope you didn't encourage her advances, Orissa?"

"I fear I did," was the laughing reply; "but she seemed very nice and agreeable—for a rich girl. Tell me, Steve," she added, turning to her brother, "what news of the Hydro-Aircraft?"

"It's great, Orissa! I put the finishing touches on it night before last, and yesterday Mr. Cumberford and I took a trial spin in it. It carries two beautifully," he exclaimed, his eyes sparkling with enthusiasm.

"Did you go over the water?" asked Orissa.

"Nearly half a mile. Then we dropped and let the engine paddle us home. Of all the hydro-aëroplanes yet invented, Ris, mine will do the most stunts and do them with greater ease."

They were rolling swiftly toward the ferry now, bound for the Hotel del Coronado, a rambling pile of Spanish architecture that dominates the farther side of San Diego Bay. Presently the car took its place in the line of vehicles on the ferry and Mr. Cumberford, who was driving, shut off the power and turned to Orissa.

"You are advertised to exhibit the new Hydro-Aircraft the first day of the meet—that's Monday," he announced. "Do you think you can master the mechanism by that time?"

"Is it the same old engine, Steve?" she inquired.

"Exactly the same, except that I've altered the controlling levers, to make them handy both in the air and on water, and balanced the weight a little differently, to allow for the boat attachment."

"How did you do that?"

"Placed the gasoline tanks in the rear. That makes the engine feed from the back, instead of from directly overhead, you see."

Orissa nodded.

"I think I can manage it, Mr. Cumberford," she decided. "Will Steve go with me on Monday?"

"Why—no," returned the manager, a trifle embarrassed. "Our fool press agent had an idea the event would be more interesting if two girls made the flight out to sea, and the trip back by boat. Sybil has been crazy to go, and so I let Chesty Todd have his own way."

"You see, Miss Kane," added Mr. H. Chesterton Radley-Todd, who was seated beside Mr. Cumberford, while Stephen and the two girls rode behind, "the management of the meet couldn't get another aviatress to take part, because you had been engaged to fly. The other air-maids are all jealous of your reputation and popularity, I guess, so the management was in despair. The dear public is daffy, just now, to watch a female risk her precious life; it's more thrilling than when a male ventures it. So, as they're paying us pretty big money, and Miss Cumberford was anxious to go, I—er—er—I——"

"It is quite satisfactory to me," announced Orissa quietly. "I shall enjoy having Sybil with me."

"I knew you wouldn't object," said Sybil.

"The only thing I don't like about it," observed Stephen, reflectively, "is the fact that you have never yet seen my Hydro-Aircraft. It's safe enough, either on land or water; but if the thing balks—as new inventions sometimes do—there will be no one aboard to help you remedy the fault, and the invention is likely to get a black eye."

"Give me a tool bag and I'll do as well as any mechanician," responded Orissa, confidently. "And your Hy is not going to balk, Steve, for I shall know as much about it as you do by Monday."

CHAPTER II.THE GIRL WITH THE AËROPLANE

The morning following Orissa Kane's arrival, which was the Saturday preceding the meet, she went with her brother Stephen to his hangar, which was located near the Glenn Curtiss aviation camp on a low bluff overlooking the Pacific. There the two spent the entire forenoon in a careful inspection of the new Hydro-Aircraft.

As she had told Madeline Dentry, the Flying Girl never wittingly took chances in the dangerous profession she followed. The remarkable success of her aërial performances was due to an exact knowledge of every part of her aëroplane. She knew what each bolt and brace was for and how much strain it would stand; she knew to a feather's weight the opposition of the planes to the air, the number of revolutions to drive the engine under all conditions and the freaks of the unreliable atmospheric currents. And aside from this knowledge she had that prime quality known as "the aviator's instinct"—the intuition what to do in emergencies, and the coolness to do it promptly.

Stephen Kane, who adored his pretty little sister, had not the slightest fear for her. As she had stood at his side during the construction of his first successful aëroplane and learned such mechanical principles of flying as he himself knew, he had no doubt she could readily comprehend the adaptation he had made to convert his Aircraft into the amphibious thing that could navigate air and water alike.

"It seems to me quite perfect, Steve," was Orissa's final verdict. "There is no question but the Hydro-Aircraft will prove more useful to the world than any simple aëroplane. If we could carry gasoline enough, I would venture across the Pacific in this contrivance. By the way, what am I to do on Monday? Must I carry Sybil in any certain direction, or for any given distance?"

"I'll let Chesty explain that," said Steve, turning to the youthful press agent, who had just then entered the hangar in company with Mr. Cumberford and Sybil.

"Why, er—er—a certain program has been announced, you know," explained Chesty Todd; "but that doesn't count, of course. We'll say that owing to high winds, contrary air currents, or some other excuse, you had to alter your plans. That'll satisfy the dear public, all right."

Orissa frowned slightly.

"You mustn't compromise me in such ways, Mr. Todd," she exclaimed. "The Kane-Cumberford Camp has the reputation of fulfilling its engagements to the letter; but if you promise impossible things of course we cannot do them."

The young man flushed. In the presence of Orissa Kane this big fellow was as diffident as a schoolboy.

"I—I didn't think I promised too much," he stammered. "There are two or three islands off this coast, known as the Coronado Islands. The big one—you can see it plainly from here—is named Sealskin. No one knows why. There are seals there, and they have skins. Perhaps that's the reason. Or they may all be related, and the seals' kin play together on the rocks."

"Be sensible, Chesty!" This from Mr. Cumberford, rather impatiently.

"I'm quite sensible of Miss Kane's annoyance," resumed Mr. Radley-Todd, "but I hope she will find her task easy. She has merely to fly to Sealskin Island, a dozen or fifteen miles—perhaps twenty—and alight on the bosom of the blue Pacific. Mighty poetical in the advertisements, eh? Then she'll ride back in motor boat fashion. When she approaches the shore she is to mount into the air again, circle around the hotel and land on the aviation field before the grand stand. If any part of this program seems difficult, we can cut it out and tell the reporters——"

"Steve," interrupted Orissa, "can I rise from the water into the air?"

"Of course. That's my pet invention. While skimming along the water you lift this lever, free the propeller, then point your elevator and—up you go!"

"Run out the machine. We will make a trial and you shall show me how it is done. The rest of Chesty's program seems easy enough, and if I master this little trick of rising from the water we will carry out our contract to the letter."

"All right. Your costume is in that little dressing room in the corner, Ris."

While his sister donned her short skirt, leggings and helmet, Stephen Kane called his mechanicians and had the Hydro-Aircraft rolled out of the hangar and headed toward the ocean. For himself, he merely put on a sweater and his cap and visor, being ready long before Orissa appeared.

The inventor seldom flew his own craft, for an accidental fall had lamed him so that he was not as expert an aviator as his sister had proved to be. He was recovering from his hurt, however, and hoped the injured leg would soon be good as new. Meantime Orissa was doing more to render the Kane Aircraft famous than any man might have done.

A wire fence encircled the Kane-Cumberford Camp for some distance, except on the ocean side, where the bluff protected it from invasion. There was an entrance gate adjoining the beach road, and while the assembled party awaited Orissa's appearance Steve noticed that a motor car stopped at the gateway and a man and woman alighted and entered the enclosure, leisurely approaching the spot where the Hydro-Aircraft stood.

"Oh!" exclaimed Sybil, whose dark eyes were far-seeing; "it's that girl who owns the yacht, Madeline what's-her-name."

"Dentry," said Steve. "I wonder if Orissa invited her here. Go and meet them, Chesty, and find out."

Mr. Radley-Todd promptly unlimbered his long legs and advanced to meet Madeline and Mr. Tupper. The press agent had an unlimited command of language when driving his pen over paper, but was notably awkward in expressing himself conversationally. He now stopped short before the visitors, removed his hat and said:

"I—er—pardon me, but—er—was your appointment for this hour?"

"Is Miss Kane here, sir?" asked Madeline, unabashed.

"She is, Miss—er—er——"

"Dentry."

"Oh; thank you."

"Then I will see her," and she took a step forward. But Chesty Todd did not move his huge bulk out of the way. So many curious and bold people were prone to intrude on all aviators, and especially on Miss Kane, that it was really necessary to deny them in a positive manner in order to secure any privacy at all. The press agent, in his halting way, tried to explain.

"We—er—Miss Kane—is about to—er—test the powers of our new Hydro-Aircraft, and I regret to say that—er—er—the test is private, you know."

"How fortunate that we came just now!" cried Madeline, eagerly, as she flashed her most winning smile on the young man. "Please lead us directly to Miss Kane, sir."

"Yes; of course; please lead us to Miss Kane," echoed Mr. Tupper pompously.

Chesty succumbed and led them to the group surrounding the machine, just as Orissa emerged from the hangar. Recognizing her recent traveling companion, the Flying Girl ran up and greeted her cordially, introducing her and Mr. Tupper to the others present.

"I'm going to try out our new Hy," she said, with a laugh. "'Hy,' you must know, is my abbreviation of the Hydro-Aircraft—too long a word altogether. If you will promise not to criticize us, in case we foozle, you are welcome to watch our performance."

"That will be glorious," returned Madeline. "We have been to the bay to inspect the Salvador, my new yacht, but being anxious to see your new Aircraft and hoping to find you here, we ventured to stop for a few minutes. Forgive us if we intruded."

She spoke so frankly and was so evidently unconscious of being unwelcome that the entire group accepted her presence and that of her uncle without murmur.

Steve took his place in the "Hy" and Orissa sat beside him.

The motor boat attachment, which took the place of the ordinary running gear, was of sheet aluminum, as light and yet as strongly built as was possible for a thing intended to be practical. Adjustable wheels, which could be folded back when the boat was in the water, were placed on either side, to give the craft a land start. The huge engine was beautiful in appearance, while the planes—a crossed arrangement peculiar to the Kane Aircraft—were immaculately white in their graceful spread.

"This upper plane," said Steve, proud to explain the marvels of his latest mechanical pet, "is so arranged that its position may be altered by means of a lever. If you're on the water and want to save gasoline you adjust the plane as a sail and let the wind drive you."

"Clever! Very clever, indeed," observed Mr. Tupper. "I had no idea these flying machines had been improved so much since I last saw an aviation meet, some six months ago."

"The art of flying is still in its infancy, sir," replied Mr. Cumberford. "It is progressing with wonderful strides, however, and young Kane is one of those remarkable geniuses who keep a pace ahead of the procession."

Even as he spoke Steve started the engine, and as the first low rumble of the propeller increased to a roar the machine darted forward, passed the edge of the bluff and, rising slightly, sped over the placid waters of the Pacific, straight out from shore.

He did not rise very high, but half a mile or so out the aviator described a half-circle and then, as gracefully as a swan, sank to the surface of the ocean. Instantly a white wake of foam appeared at the rear of the boat, showing that the propeller was now churning the water. And now, with speed that to the observers appeared almost incredible, the Hydro-Aircraft approached the shore. A few yards from the bluff it abruptly rose from the water, sailed above the heads of the spectators, and after a circle of the field, came to a halt at almost the exact spot from which it had started.