[Passage cut from The Motor Chums in Alaska on 21 January 1992]
he lads all took a moment to admire the airship they had just completed with much time and effort. “Well, what do you think of it, Ersatz?" asked Tom. Ersatz Simpson was a colored lad whose eccentricities of speech provided much amusement for the comrades.
“Ah think we shouldn’t hab done used dat numbah thuteen wiah,” said Ersatz darkly.
“Nonsense.” Tom laughed cheerfully at the colored lad’s superstition. He might not have laughed so long, however, had he known how true these words would prove.
“Looky here, Marse Tom,” said Ersatz firmly. “Dat wiah jest ain’t big enough fo’ de ’mount ob current you wants ter put through it. And dat’s de trufe.”
“I’m sure the wire is just fine,” said Tom confidently. “And if we’d waited till after Orville Risley had launched his Octoplane, why, we’d never sell the tickets we sold for today.” Orville Risley, as readers of the earlier volumes in our series know, was a famed aviator and long-time foe of the Motor Chums.
“But are you really sure there's no danger?”
“What if the ship catches fire?”
These anxious questions came from Laura and Penny Fenderby, two sisters for whom Ned and Dick had a certain liking.
“There is nothing to worry about,” Tom assured the girls. “We’re just going to take the buggy out for a little spin and come right back. Nothing can go wrong.”
“That’s what you said when you wanted to fly that blimp to Mars,” said Laura.
“We almost made it,” objected Ned hotly. “We would have too, if we hadn’t run out of air.”
“Suppose the electricity went out?” asked Penny.
“The wiring is fine,” said Tom. “Number thirteen wire is good enough for what I want of it. There’s no danger of anything happening with the electrical system.”
“Unless Dick forgets to keep pedaling,” said the irrepressible Ned.