Complete List of Stories for Boys by
ADVENTURES OF DICK TREVANION, THE
ADVENTURES OF HARRY ROCHESTER, THE
A HERO OF LIEGE
A THOUSAND MILES AN HOUR
AIR PATROL, THE
AIR SCOUT, THE
BARCLAY OF THE GUIDES
BLUE RAIDER, THE
BOYS OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE
BURTON OF THE FLYING CORPS
CRUISE OF THE GYRO-CAR, THE
DAN BOLTON'S DISCOVERY
FIGHTING WITH FRENCH
FLYING BOAT, THE
HEIR OF A HUNDRED KINGS, THE
JACK BROWN IN CHINA
KING OF THE AIR
LONG TRAIL, THE
LORD OF THE SEAS
MARTIN OF OLD LONDON
MOTOR SCOUT, THE
NO MAN'S ISLAND
OLD MAN OF THE MOUNTAIN, THE
ONE OF CLIVE'S HEROES
PALM TREE ISLAND
RIVER PIRATES, THE
ROB THE RANGER
ROUND THE WORLD IN SEVEN DAYS
SETTLERS AND SCOUTS
SWIFT AND SURE
THROUGH THE ENEMY'S LINES
TOM WILLOUGHBY'S SCOUTS
TRUE AS STEEL
WINNING HIS NAME
WITH DRAKE ON THE SPANISH MAIN
WITH HAIG ON THE SOMME
[Illustration: HE CLUTCHED AT THE GRAPNEL, LET GO HIS HOLD OF THE MAST,
AND SWUNG CLEAR. Frontispiece--see page 79]
KING OF THE AIR
Or, To Morocco on an Aeroplane
ILLUSTRATED IN COLOUR BY W. E. WEBSTER
OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
LONDON, EDINBURGH, GLASGOW
TORONTO, MELBOURNE, CAPE TOWN, BOMBAY
Copyright 1907 by the Bobbs-Merrill Company
in the United States of America.
Reprinted 1908, 1909, 1911, 1913 (twice), 1915 (twice),
1917, 1918, 1919 (twice), 1920, 1923, 1929
Printed in Great Britain by Richard Clay & Sons, Limited,
I. Mr. Greatorex is Astonished 9
II. Herr Schwab 20
III. Tom makes Experiments 34
IV. A Prisoner in Zemmur 51
V. Off the Barbary Coast 63
VI. Salathiel ben Ezra 81
VII. The Hills of Zemmur 98
VIII. The Swordsmith of Ain Afroo 116
IX. A Bolt from the Blue 133
X. The Kasbah 148
XI. Prison Breakers 167
XII. A Hitch 182
XIII. Diplomacy 196
XIV. The Troglodytes 218
XV. View Halloo! 233
XVI. Icarus 248
XVII. Compliments and Thanks 262
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
"He clutched at the grapnel, let go his hold
of the mast, and swung clear" 79
"His sword flew from his grasp, and he reeled
dizzily to the ground." 130
"Tom, seizing a big stone, threw it with all his
force into the black room beneath" 187
"Abdul bent over the brink and smartly rapped his
knuckles with the butt of Tom's revolver" 222
KING OF THE AIR
CHAPTER I--MR. GREATOREX IS ASTONISHED
Mr. John Greatorex was very wealthy, and very obstinate. He had made a
large fortune as a manufacturer
of chemicals, but disclaimed any
knowledge of chemistry. He had dabbled a little in mechanics, and was
convinced that he possessed an accurate
practical knowledge of its
applications. Consequently, when his new motor-car arrived, he saw no
necessity to take a chauffeur
with him on its trial spin. He was like a
child with a new toy, jealous
"My dear," said Mrs. Greatorex, as she handed him his motor goggles,
"are you sure you will not take Timothy? What if it breaks down?"
"My _love_," said Mr. Greatorex in his emphatic
way, "I do not _want_
Timothy. It will not break down. If it _does_, I flatter
myself I am
_competent_ to make any _necessary_ repairs. I shall be back at
seven-thirty--in good time for dinner; and I _hope and trust_ the soup
will _not_ be cold."
He gave a preliminary
_honk! honk!_ looking round with a smile that
plainly said, "There! you see that _everything_ is in order!" Then he
steered the car accurately
down the drive to the road.
His house lying in the heart of the country, Mr. Greatorex did not fear
to meet milestones in the shape of policemen with stop-watches, who
would take his number and afterwards confront
him in court. In a minute
or two the car was whirling along the road at a rate which, it is to be
exceeded the speed limit. All went merry as a
marriage-bell, and Mr. Greatorex was at the height
of exhilaration and
satisfaction, when, just as he was mounting the acclivity of Five Oaks
Bridge, without even a click in warning, the machine came to a dead
stop. Mr. Greatorex put the engine out of gear, then tried to start it
by turning the starting handle; but finding
this of no avail he clapped
on the brake, skipped out of the car, removed his goggles and his
gloves, and set about making an examination.
On the other side of the bridge, sitting on the bank of the stream, was
a boy, gazing with round eyes at a float that hung from a line attached
to a long home-made rod of yew. He had heard the clatter
motor-car as it came along the road; he was aware that the noise had
suddenly ceased; but, being a lad of great concentration, he did not
give a thought to what was happening
out of sight at the further end of
the bridge. He had come out for an afternoon's fishing; two or three fat
carp lay beside him on the bank; and noticing at this moment a slight
movement of the float, he was soon oblivious of everything except the
fish on his hook.
Half an hour passed. Three more fish had rewarded his patience; then,
satisfied with his catch, the boy rose, methodically wound up his line,
and, leaving reel, rod and basket on the bank, walked up on to the
bridge, to investigate
the meaning of sundry
strange noises he had
heard, vaguely, in the intervals between the bites.
As he gained the foot of the bridge, where a motor-car stood somewhat
askew across the road, he caught sight of a pair of brown boots
projecting from beneath the machine. Nothing but the boots was visible;
but they moved, and it was clear that they shod the feet of some living
person, for there came puffs and grunts and explosive
resembling those he had sometimes heard on the golf-links near his home.
The boy leant against the parapet, stuck his hands into his pockets, and
watched. By and by there was an ejaculation of peculiar
boots moved out into the road, followed by a pair of grey-trousered
legs, a soiled and rumpled motor-coat, and a very red and dirty face;
the boy took especial
note of a black patch in the very centre of a
Puffing and blowing, Mr. Greatorex crawled from under his new car, and
stood upon his feet--a rather disreputable-looking object--staring
wrathfully at the offending car. He had not perceived the small
"Wish I _had_ brought Timothy!" he muttered. "_Confound_ the brute!"
He looked at his grimy hands, at his mud-stained clothes, up the road,
down the road, and finally at the boy, who had at last made an
impression on his retina.
"Hi, boy!" he said.
The boy approached with a shy smile. Mr. Greatorex scowled, conscious
"Boy, tell me, and don't _grin_, is there a smith anywhere
"In the village, sure, measter."
"Where is the village?"
"About three miles away, over yonder."
"God bless me! Three miles! Well, look here, boy, I'll give you
_sixpence_ to run there and send the smith back--behind a horse, on a
bicycle, _anyhow_--to mend this confounded machine. I'm twenty miles away
from _home_, you understand, and I shall be _late_ for dinner. I'll make
it a _shilling_ if the smith is here within an hour."
The boy looked up into the wrathful face and smiled again.
"Would 'ee like me to mend un for 'ee? 'Twould maybe save time."
Mr. Greatorex stared.
"_You_ mend it! 'Pon my word!"
And then he burst into a roar of laughter
which carried away his
ill-humour, for Mr. Greatorex was normally
a very good-tempered person.
The situation was, in truth, amusing. The boy was a little fellow under
four feet high. He had a round chubby face, not free from stains. He
wore corduroy breeches
much too large for him, big clumping boots, and a
flannel shirt open at the neck. His blue eyes peeped up from beneath a
large, soft, much-discoloured straw hat. And this little urchin
actually offered to mend a motor-car with which Mr. Greatorex, with all
his knowledge of mechanism, had been struggling for half an hour in
Mr. Greatorex laughed again.
"Come, cut along, youngster," he said genially. "Let me see how _fast_
you can run."
"I'll mend un if you give me leave. 'Twill save time," persisted the
Mr. Greatorex pulled out his watch. What a joke, he thought--this sprat
of a boy offering
his huge motor-car! It was only a little
after five; there might still be time to fetch the smith, get the
repairs made, and yet reach home by half-past seven. A little rest would
not come amiss after his exertions. Why not let the youngster
hand--for the fun of it?
"Well then, _fire_ away, my young engineer. I've been at it half an
hour, _confound_ the thing!"
"What have 'ee done, measter?"
"Done? Everything! Examined the sparking plugs: _they're_ all right.
Wires from battery: _they're_ all right. Battery itself, _that's_ all
right. Plenty of petrol in the tank. _Every_thing's all right, hang it,
and yet the thing _won't_ go!"
"Don't you worrit, measter. Give me a lend of your tools."
The boy's cocksureness again amused Mr. Greatorex, who seated himself on
the parapet of the bridge, and mopped his perspiring face, smiling
pleasantly. Though past fifty he was still young at heart, and very
ready to be amused. He took out a pipe, filled and lit it, and puffed
away, with an expression of serenecontentment
on his rubicund dirty
The boy flung off his hat and disappeared. Metallic sounds came from the
interior of the car.
"How are you getting on, boy?" asked Mr. Greatorex after some ten
There was no answer.
Five minutes passed.
"Find it rather too _much_ for you, eh?" said Mr. Greatorex, looking
more amused than ever.
Still there was no answer.
"Got everything you want?" he asked again.
But the boy made no reply; only the sound of knocking and screwing
Mr. Greatorex laughed aloud.
"Come," he said, getting up and standing
with legs astraddle a foot or
two from the car, "you mustn't make _too_ long a _job_ of it, you know."
Then he chuckled.
Five minutes afterwards the boy crawled out. Mr. Greatorex laughed again
as he surveyed the grimy little fellow. A great patch of black
surrounded one eye, where he had rubbed his knuckles.
"All right now, measter," said the boy.
"What! Come, my lad, you've _had your_ turn; now run along and fetch the
"Bean't no need. She'll go now."
Mr. Greatorex looked impressed, stepped to the front of the car, and
turned the handle; to his amazement
the engines started. He sprang
the car, threw the engines into gear, and was still more amazed when,
releasing the clutch
pedal, he found that the car moved.
"Better take off the brake, measter," said the boy.
"Why, yes, certainly," said Mr. Greatorex, with a preoccupied
the car mounted the incline, spun across the bridge, and ran easily down
the road. Then Mr. Greatorex stopped it and turned round.
"Hi, boy!" he shouted. The boy picked up his hat, stuck it on his head,
"Look here, youngster," said Mr. Greatorex, "the car is all _right_!"
"Told 'ee so, measter."