Chapter VII. The Sale of the Biplane
 

"Did you hear what that man said?" demanded Sam in a whisper, of his brothers.

"I did," returned Dick. "But he isn't going to sell our property," added Tom, warmly.

"Hardly," responded Dick. He pushed his way through the crowd and walked straight up to the flat car.

"Who is in charge here?" he demanded.

"What's that?" came in some surprise from the section boss.

"I asked who was in charge of this flat car with this flying machine?"

"What business is that of yours, young fellow?"

"This is our biplane-- it belongs to me and my brothers here," and Dick waved his hand at Tom and Sam.

"Oh! Are you the Rover brothers?"

"Yes. And I want to know what business you had to bring that flying machine here?" went on Dick sharply, for he saw the kind of a man with whom he had to deal.

"Say, look here, if you've got any kick coming you go to the office with it," cried Jimmy Budley.

"Very well, I will. But I want to know who ordered you to bring that biplane here."

"Never mind; you go to the office and find out."

"You brought it here, didn't you?" asked Tom, who had now come up to Dick's side, along with the others.

"I ain't answering questions when I don't have to," returned the section boss, with a sneer.

"Sure he brought it here-- on this flat car!" cried a man in the crowd. "Why don't you answer the young fellow straight, Jimmy?"

"This biplane belongs to my brothers and me," went on Dick, as sharply as before. "You had absolutely no right to touch it. If I wished to do so, I could have you arrested for this," he continued.

"Say, I don't allow nobody to talk to me like that!" growled the section boss. "You git out of here and see the men at the office."

"We'll not get out!" put in Tom. "This flying machine is ours and we want it."

"You'll take it right back to where you found it," added Sam. "And be careful that you don't break it worse than it is, or you'll foot the bill."

"I won't listen to you!" stormed the section boss, who was of an ugly disposition naturally and not liked in the neighborhood.

"Very well then," answered Dick. He turned to Stanley. "Will you go out and see if you can find a policeman?" he asked, loudly.

"Sure," returned the college youth, readily.

"Wow! he's goin' to have Budley locked up!" exclaimed a small boy.

"See here, don't you get fresh!" stormed the section boss, eying Dick angrily.

"We'll have a policeman settle this," answered the oldest Rover boy. "This is our property, and we can easily prove it. You had no right to touch it."

"I had orders," said Jimmy Budley, doggedly.

"Why don't you telephone to the office, Jimmy?" suggested a friend. "Maybe there was some mistake."

"Wasn't no mistake," growled the section boss; nevertheless he hopped down from the flat car and hurried in the direction of a shanty wherein was located a telephone. Dick followed him.

"You can tell them what I said," said the youth; "And they may find it to their interest to call up Mr. Belright Fogg before they give you orders."

"Have you seen Fogg?" demanded the section boss.

"Yes."

"Did he say you could take the machine?"

"He said nothing about our taking it. He settled for what damage the railroad did to the biplane. We went to get our property and found it gone. Nobody had a right to touch it, excepting to take it from the tracks."

"Huh!" grumbled the section boss, and shot into the shanty, banging the door behind him. Dick heard him shout something into the telephone, and quite a lengthy conversation ensued.

In the meanwhile Stanley had gone off for a policeman and presently came back with a bluecoat who did duty in the streets beyond the railroad yards.

"Well, what have you got to say about it?" demanded Dick, when the section bass came from the shanty and while Stanley and the policeman were approaching. "Do we get our property or not?"

"It's yours," returned the railroad man, and his voice was much milder than before. "They had no right to give me the orders they did."

"What about taking it back?" went on Dick.

"I've got orders to take it to any place where you want it," answered the section boss, and he looked anything but happy as he made the confession.

"Then you can run it down to Ashton," answered Dick. "Will you do it right away?"

"I guess so-- I'll see," was the answer.

"What do you want me for?" asked the policeman, as he came up.

"I don't believe you'll be needed-- now," answered Dick.

"It's all right, Murphy," put in Jimmy Budley, quickly. "We had a misunderstanding over orders, that's all."

"This young man told me a flying machine had been stolen," said Murphy, and nodded towards Stanley.

"It was a misunderstanding. I wasn't to blame." The section boss turned to Dick. "I'll get a freight engine to run the car with the machine down to Ashton inside of an hour."

"Very well," answered Dick. "And be careful that the biplane isn't damaged in unloading."

"She ain't much but kindlin' wood now," and the section boss smiled a trifle.

"Well, the engine is all right-- and that's the valuable part of her," returned Dick. "I'll look for her at Ashton in an hour."

"Want to ride down on the flat car with her?"

"I'll see about that."

The matter was talked over, and in the end it was agreed that Dick and Sam should ride on the flat car, while Tom went with Stanley and Jack Mason in the automobile. Then the section boss went off to get the freight engine to haul the flat car.

"Got out of that better than I expected," whispered Sam to his big brother.

"It pays to put on a front, Sam," was the answer. "If I had been weak-kneed about it that fellow wouldn't have done a thing."

"Oh, you've got a head for business, Dick-- I can see that," said the youngest Rover, admiringly.

"I hope so, Sam-- for I think I'll need it soon."

"You mean for helping Dad?"

"Yes,"

"It's too bad he has these weak spells, isn't it?"

"Yes. What he needs, I think, is a good, long rest."

The others went off in the touring auto, and Dick and Sam made themselves at home on the flat car. Soon a freight engine backed up, the car was attached; and off they started, in company with the section boss and two track laborers, in the direction of Ashton.

As the Rovers could readily see, the Dartaway was a complete wreck, beyond the possibility of being repaired. But the motor looked to be in good order, and the stays and turn-buckles would, of course, be worth something.

When Ashton was reached Sam and Dick found that the automobile and its party had gotten there ahead of them.

"I've found a place where we can store the biplane-- or what's left of it," said Tom. "In that barn," and he pointed to a structure directly beside the tracks.

"Good enough!" cried Dick. "That will save the trouble and expense of hauling it any distance."

The flat car was stopped in front of the barn, and after some trouble the remains of the biplane were transferred to the structure. Then the section boss brought out a receipt which Dick signed.

"Next time I move a flying machine I'll make sure that orders are O. K.," he remarked, grimly.

"It might save a lot of trouble," answered Tom, dryly.

"Tell me-- didn't you act on orders from that lawyer, Fogg?" questioned Dick, curiously.

"I did-- if you want to know."

"I thought so. He's too sharp for his own good."

"You're right-- and maybe he'll catch it for this," answered Jimmy Budley; and then he and his men rode away on the flat car, leaving our friends to themselves.

"Well, now you've got the wreckage, what are you going to do with it?" questioned Stanley.

"Offer it to the folks who build flying machines," answered Dick. "I'll write the letters to-night."

With the biplane off their minds, the Rovers rejoined their friends in the automobile, and took a run through the country for fifty miles or more. They stopped at a country hotel, and there Dick treated to cake, ice cream and other refreshments.

The letters to the flying machine manufacturers brought various replies. Several did not care to buy the wreckage at all, while others offered a ridiculously low price.

"This doesn't look encouraging," was Dick's comment. "Boys, I guess we'll have to pocket our share of the loss."

The next day, however, came another letter, one from a young aviator of Worcester. He wrote that he had heard that they had the wreckage for sale and if it was still on the market he would come and look at it.

"Maybe he'll give us a little more than those manufacturers offer," said Sam, hopefully.

The letter was answered, and the young aviator came on the next day, going first to inspect the remains of the Dartaway and then coming up to the college.

"Pretty well smashed," said he, to the Rover boys. "About all that is good is the motor and fittings."

"But that engine is a dandy," said Tom.

"How much do you want for the outfit as it stands?"

"I don't know," answered Dick. "The biplane cost us about three thousand dollars."

"Yes, but she's a complete wreck. All I can use is the engine-- and maybe a few other things."

"Well, make an offer," put in Tom.

"I might pay three hundred dollars."

"Make it double that and the machine is yours," returned Dick.

No, it wouldn't be worth six hundred dollars to me," answered the young aviator.

A discussion lasting the best part of half an hour ensued. The aviator went up to four hundred dollars and then to four hundred and fifty. Finally, Dick said he would accept five hundred dollars cash; and the bargain was concluded at that figure. The money was paid over, and the Rover boys gave the purchaser a bill of sale, and he departed without delay, stating he wished to make arrangements for shipping the wrecked biplane away.

"Not so bad, after all," declared Dick, when the brothers were alone.

"It's very good," put in Tom.

"That's the end of the Dartaway," came from Sam, mournfully. "Well, we had some pretty good times in her while she lasted."