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Page 23 text:
THE AVIATION MYSTERY Seventh Grade Prize Story I was just composing myself to read a new book I had received, when the phone rang. It had tinkled many times that evening, and I had become very impatient with it. I would have liked to ignore it, but I don ' t believe in taking chances; so I jerked off the receiver and shouted " hello! " " Hello, Dawson. This is Evans speaking. I ' m taking off early, so this is in the nature of a goodbye call. I ' ve had a hunch all day that this is going to be my last flight, and it ' s gotten on my nerves. So I ' m going now. " And with that, before I had a chance to say a word, he hung up. John Evans was a youth of about twenty years of age. I had known him since he was a babe-in-arms, and he was a nice enough boy until he was made orphan by a railroad accident. From then on he began drifting towards crime. In my position as a reporter for the New York World many things came to my ears. I began to hear rumors about Evans being a gangster, jewel thief, murderer de luxe, drug addict, and many different specimens of criminals. These rumors disturbed me, as I liked John, and I persuaded him to join the aviation forces. He gained some renown there, so it was no surprise when he announced that he would attempt a New York to Paris non-stop flight. The take-off was originally not to have been made for two hours yet, but by this time John must be winging his way out over the Atlantic, because of his early start. Next morning when I arrived at the office, I found the news going the rounds that Evans ' plane, The Pride of New York, had been sighted by a ship, floating on the surface of the ocean twenty miles off its course. The ship investigated and found that the gas supply was gone and so was Evans! His radio messages had been heard clearly until 3:29 a. m., when they had abruptly stopped. The plane had been sighted about four o ' clock. A few minutes later the news came in that John ' s sweetheart, Dorothy Wright, had been found murdered in her home. Her parents had been absent on a vacation, and she was the only one at home. It was estimated that the murder had been committed about half an hour before the Pride of New York and its occupant started on their fateful journey. Someone then remembered that Evans had been absent until about ten minutes before taking off. Another recollected that he had seemed rather dazed. It looked as though Evans had visited Miss Wright, found her dead, and wandered back to the hangar in a daze. Then, hardly knowing what he was doing, had guided the plane into the air, and, when over the Atlantic, leaped to a death in the chill waters below, leaving the plane to fly on at the mercy of the four winds. For several weeks an ocean-wide search was made for the missing pilot, but it was fruitless and the authorities soon abandoned the matter. I, however, never completely lost hope, as I had a feeling that I would sometime see Evans again. One evening, about half a year later, I was preparing to read a new book I had received, when again the hateful telephone jangled. I jerked off the receiver, but before I could say a word I heard the voice of my chief over the wire. " Hello, Dawson, is that you? " The chief seemed excited. When he received confirmation of his question, he continued:
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SILKY Eighth Grade Prize Story ■ ' Where shall we go today? " I asked my brother John one Sunday iji the year two thousand one hundred and twenty-seven. ■ " Let ' s go to Mars. " John replied. The traffic is so bad after you pass the ]Moon that I don ' t like to go on Sunday. Besides, we ' ve gone there so often I ' m tired of it. " I argued. ■ ' That ' s all right, " John responded. " ■! know another way after you pass the Moon. Oh, yes. I found the best kind of a place to have a picnic on the east side. ' " " If we hurn,- you can have Silky ready, and I can have a breakfast put up before that pest of a Bobby finds out. " I said. " I ' ll leave a note so he won ' t worr " . " Bobby is my youngest brother. We call our Moon-Puller " Silky " because it is made mostly of blue silk. That is so light that the earth ' s pull of gra ity has no eft ' ect on it at all. The rest of Silky is made of a metal that is stronger than steel and as light as the rest of the Moon- Puller. I suppose you wonder what a Moon-Puller is. A !Moon-Puller is a machine that looks like a large capsule with a gondola htmg beneath it. In back of the gondola is a powerful motor that can reach a speed of about sixty miles a minute or three thousand six hundred miles an hour. Both the gondola and motor are made of that metal I have already mentioned. We call this metal " steelimun. " Finally I had the breakfast put up and John had Silky ready. Xow for the take-off ' l ' Mien the ] Ioon shines on a ZVIoon-Puller it starts to rise toward it because the Moon has a power to draw a ]Moon-Puller to itself. •■- re you ready. Bee? " John asked. " Yes. you can let the water out of it now. " I replied. At the bottom of the gondola there is a water tank. When there is water in the tank. Silky won ' t rise. She is kept in a shed with a roof that will open up in the middle, like a drawbridge, and a large receptacle built in the bottom of the shed to hold the water when you let it out of Silky. When we had reached the road, we started our motor and set out on the new route. After we had been traveling for about an hour. I asked John whether we ought to be near the IMoon or not. He said that we ought to be. but. upon looking out. we saw the Moon farther away than ever and Saturn so close that we would have to land there. " We had some difhculty in avoiding the ring around Saturn when we landed and more when we took oft " again. As it was rather late, we started for home. To get back to our o n planet, we had to nil our water tank. Filling the water tank is the hardest pan of running a Moon-Puller, because you have to swoop through a cloud after you have opened the front end of the tank. The condenser in the tank condenses the cloud to make water. Usually it is necessar} " to swoop through a second cloud to get enough water to pull you to the earth. ' hen we had nearly reached the earth, we saw that we were over the Atlantic Ocean. This meant that we had to drop some of our water so that we could stay at least live miles above the ocean. Then we started our motor and headed for home. We thought it to be about seven o ' clock, so we ate our breakfast when we arrived, and began a new day. — Betsy Doaxe, L8.
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" Well, Inspector Traynor of the police force phoned us that he had made an important discovery concerning that aviation mysterv of about six months ago. I want you to cover it, as you knew Evans personally. Get do Yn there immediately, will you? " I assented, and perhaps ten minutes later was running up the steps of the police headquarters of New York. In a few moments I met burly Inspector Traynor. " Hello, Dawson, " he boomed, " we have an interesting case for you. The mur- derer of Miss Dorothy Wright is found at last. Show him in, lieutenants. " The door was opened, and in stepped John Evans! " Well, are you ready to confess fully? " thundered the chief, in an intimidating tone of voice. At that the poor boy looked up and for the first time saw me. There came a half-stified sob, then the confession: " My first contact mth crime came when I took dope, unknowingly. After taking it a few times I found I could not do without it. So that I could get the drug more easily, I joined a gang of criminals who supplied it, " One night I was at the gang ' s hangout, taking some of my life-giving dope, when a dishevelled member of the banditti burst in, voicing in a stage whisper the fact that the police were on our trail, so to scatter for the time being. " I wandered out a back exit, still two-thirds drugged. The first thing I saw was my beloved in the arms of a strange man. She sprang up immediately, and, when apprised of my predicament, led me to a safe hiding place. " WTien the danger was over I crept out, inwardly raging. So Dot had tricked me then. She loved another, meanwhile leading me on merely for the hard-earned gifts I gave her. Well, I would fix her. I would kill her. " I carefully planned the details of it. I would announce that I was to attempt to fly across the Atlantic. The gangsters would be stationed with a ship along my route in the ocean. (Of course no one else would know of this.) Then, just before I took off, I would return and murder Dot. " I would then start the hop, and when I saw the gangsters ' ship below me, would drop from the plane in a parachute, leaving The Pride of New York to fly alone, God knows where. Then I would grow a beard and start life anew under a new name. The police might suspect that I did it, but they would abandon the search for me when they learned my plane had been wrecked. " I would let the plane fly on, as it might be sighted further out, to dispel any suspicion that anything had happened where it did. " One of my confederates would be phoning Dawson at the time that I committed the murder so that I would have an alibi if I was caught. " At last it was the night of the take-off. About half an hour before I had de- cided to start, I slunk away toward Dot ' s house. I had kno ATT. that she was to be alone that evening, as her parents were away on a vacation. " I was at her house I Silently I opened the door. She was sitting with her back toward me, reading. Noiselessly I tiptoed toward her. She must have heard me, however, for — " Why, hello, John — " with a quick spring I was upon her, I clapped one hand over her mouth, with the other throttling her. So she would trick me, would she! The gruesome deed was done! With a sudden revulsion of feeling, I fled, madly.
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