[Part of chapter XIV (“Ned, Dick and Harry See Some Sights”) of The Motor Chums at Large, or, In Washington F.D. for Fun and Profit, originally written 12 April 1973]
he airship of the Motor Chums drifted over the city like an immense sky-borne pig. In the cabin Ned manned the controls, while Harry plotted out a course for the ship to take. At last the latter lad shoved aside his equipment and spoke.
“There’s something I don’t understand—”
“I don’t believe that,” chuckled Ned. Seeing the other pause, he urged, “Well, shit it out, as Tom would say.”
“I’ve been thinking—”
“A good way to waste the afternoon,” Ned interposed.
“—and I’ve come to a conclusion. I doubt that Ingram is actually concerned about the President’s safety.”
“You mean he isn’t worried about Bryan at all?” asked Ned, “I think he knows his duty—”
“No, he’s worried about Bryan all right,” replied Harry, “but I wonder if he worries more about what Bryan might do than what might be done to him.”
“What are you hinting at?” demanded Ned.
“I’m not certain,” Harry told him, “but I think—”
He broke off as one of the girls entered the cabin to inform them that supper was ready on the deck outside. Realizing that it would be improper to discuss such matters in the girls’ presence, Ned and Harry dropped the discussion for a later occasion.
On the deck of the Skyhog they found a considerable meal set forth, consisting of canned synthetic meat, canned synthetic vegetable matter, and roast pigeon (which Dick had shot earlier in the day for the girls to cook). Drink was provided in the form of a concoction Ersatz had brewed in Freemarket to the specifications of an ancient crypto-African recipe.
When the feast was well started, the revelers were joined by Dick and Abby, and then ingurgitation and merriment were the rule of the hour.
“Where is Tom Wilshire?” asked Jan, “I’ve always wanted to meet him.”
“Or better yet, Ersatz Simpson,” added Abby, “I just love his hilarious antics.”
“Well, you see, we’re on a secret mission for Father Sam,” explained Harry.
“And you can’t divulge their present location,” nodded Abby understandingly.
“That’s true enough,” replied Ned.
“I remember that from The Motor Chums with the Department of Imperialism,” explained Abby.
“Say,” asked Jan, “How did you escape from being crushed in that electric cement mixer in The Motor Chums and their Electric Cannon?”
“Yes, and what were you doing on that train to Montreal?” put in Debbie.
“It was very simple,” explained Ned.
“Let’s just say that we escaped with our usual ingenuity,” added Harry.
“And the full story’s going to be told in The Motor Chums and their Electric Oil Pump,” was Dick’s contribution.
“Tell us some of your adventures,” begged Jan.
“Oh, jiminy,” observed Ned, “They’re all available in the series.”
“Right,” cautioned Harry, “Don’t undercut the market.”
“This drink is like nothing,” remarked Abby, “I’ve ever tasted before.”
“Yes, it does have some unusual properties,” admitted Harry.
“Especially when it goes bad, like now,” grunted Dick.
“What’s in it?” Debbie wanted to know.
“It’s a secret recipe,” explained Ned. “We put it to chemical analysis, but learned nothing.”
“You get as much illumination from merely drinking the substance,” confirmed Harry.
So delightfully did the time pass that the meal was over long before the young folks noticed it. The roast pigeon was pronounced excellent by all hands, and Ersatz’ potion made something of a “hit” with the girls. They were still sipping from the cobwebbed bottles after the meal, as Harry pointed out sites of interest to anyone who was still listening.
“It was through here,” expounded Harry, pointing over the side of the ship, “that Ross’s armies swept, burning and looting. Everything of value, the Capitol building—then only half, complete was destroyed. Entirely although the present structure is, of the same design and; built with some of the original. Material.”
“Gee, I just can’t get over it,” breathed Jan, “being screwed by the Famous Motor Chums.”
“Everybody gets screwed by the Famous Motor Chums,” Ned whispered.
“Down there,” replied Harry, “is the sight of the Jefferson assassination, which caused rather a stir at the time.” He paused for another drink out of his glass. “If you lean over the railing you can see the gleam of the gold alloy of the memorial statute. The halo that surmounts it, by the way, is kept alight by the Edison Electric company.”
“You sure know a lot about the city,” said Jan admiringly.
“Hey,” suggested Dick, gazing over the side, “I bet I could hit that car, I bet,” and he brandished his bottle in so comical a manner that the others had to laugh.
“I wonder what that asshole Tom’s up to,” chuckled Ned.
“Let’s have some music on the radio,” Debbie reclaimed, rising feetsward. She played with the levers, but seemed unable to find anything satisfactory.
“Probably he’s hot-foot on the clew of another trail,” chickled Ned. “God, what an asshole.”
Sounds akin to music ended this discussion with a pop. “Jeepers,” exclaimed Ned, “that’s just some religious carp.”
“Sounds like the Jesus-choir,” murbled Harry.
Debbie started to maneuver the levers, when stayed by the chums. The sounds extruded by the device, though unmusical in the extreme, were of great interest for them.
“I’se been all ma life a po’ sinnah,” remarked the radio, “but Ah aint po’ no mo’, not since Ah jined up wid de Billy Sunday houh ob surbible.”
“That’s Ersatz’ voice,” amazed Ned.
“All them colored voices sound alike,” phlegmaticked Dick, “how can you tell?”
Chaos ended the speech, and then Sunday began one of his own. “Friends, what happened here in Derleth to-day is a sign among the faithful for the success of our New England pogrom. We have made 2,379 converts for a grand total of 2,498,632,739 converts to the Lordjesuschrist. Think of it, friends, think of it, over two billion men, women, and children safe in the arms of Jesus. It’s a heartwarming thought. But don’t forget—to carry on the good work we need your spiritual and financial support. Sent it to Billy Sunday Pogrom, St. Paul, Minnesota. Next week we will be speaking to you from the town of Fascist, so tune in friends. And may the Lord bless you—real good.”
“Well,” tripped Ned, “so Ersatz is in Derleth.”
The news clouted Harry less calmly. “What’s the time?” he incised.
“About six, I guess,” softed Ned, “so what?”
“So one of us must fly to Derleth to warn him,” imploded Harry.
“Huh,” fielded Ned, “Ersatz isn’t dumb. He’ll get home all right.”
“And be arrested, like as not,” grarfed Harry.
“Arrested?” strafed Debbie. “Why?”
Horged Harry “Got to get to the Fly-By-Night.”
“Right,” leaped Ned, cabinsward, wheelguided.
Staggered Harry after, thinking in vain. “Maps. Compass. Sextant.”
Upbuilt steam within the bowels of the ship, and farted forward the Skyhog under unsteady command of our heroes.
“There it is,” pointed Dick to the archaic barn in which the aeroplane slumbered undisturbed. The Motor Chums and their fair companions dismounted, and it was a simple matter to rouse the craft for flight. The Motor Chums were skilled in mechanical matters.
“Leaping Creepers,” nedded Said, “Can you pilot the ’plane, do you think?”
Harry grinned. “For the safety of the club and the glory of heaven I’m off.”
The ’plane weaved across the field, vaulted a fence, and was sight to lost.Sobered, Ned glared skyward. “God, I hope he makes it.”