He evidently chose to take chances in the swift current of the Magdalena rather than trust himself in the power of the unknown pursuer, which doubtless he believed to be the dreaded “devil-bird” that had been confined in the box cage!
THE AIRSHIP LAUNCHED AT LAST.
Frank came near following after the unknown member of the crew, when the other made that flying leap over the side of the boat. Not that he wanted to take a bath just then, but his forward progress had been rapid, and he only saved himself by banging up against the taffrail, which was unusually high for so small a vessel, and holding on sturdily.
He had heard the splash as the fellow reached the water. Doubtless he was a good swimmer, as about all these natives seemed to be, and barring his falling a prey to some loitering alligator or other reptile, he would be able to gain the neighboring shore further down.
At any rate it was folly to think of looking for him.
“What’s all the row?” cried Andy, as he came plunging forth from his stateroom.
Some of the crew were even then looking over the side, and Frank imagined they could give a pretty good guess as to what it meant. But he heard not a word from even old Quito, and while the absence of a man must be noticed in the morning, there would probably be no complaint.
When Andy heard about the attempt to injure the monoplane he was in a tremble.
“Did you ever?” he exclaimed. “Why, it seems as though everything just wants to knock us. When we give the government officials the merry ha! ha! and even slip past the revolutionary army, after being bombarded by their old cannon, here even our own men want to smash our precious aeroplane, under the belief that it’s an evil bird, come to bring bad luck to the people.”
“Better go back to your bunk and forget it,” remarked Frank, who was tenderly rubbing his elbow where it had come in contact with the hard taffrail at the time he stopped so suddenly, balking at a bath.
“Me? Not on your life, Frank!” declared Andy, with much emphasis. “I’m going to take a blanket and just lie down in front of that blessed door. Nobody can get in then without walking over my body. And if I catch a fellow trying it on, believe me, I’ll give him something he won’t forget in a hurry. It’ll be touch and go with him, I bet you.”
Which he actually did, much to Frank’s secret amusement, camping out there on the floor as close to the locked door as he could get, and bracing his back up against the same.
But then, fortunately, morning was not so far away and Andy would have only a couple of hours, more or less, of his self-imposed labor.
They knew that if the pilot of the river expedition said truly, they must even now be drawing near the town of Magangue. Possibly it would break upon their vision with the coming of dawn.