"I don't need a balloon," returned the boy. "That's a clumsy way of traveling, at best. I shall go by electric propulsion."
"Good gracious!" cried Mr. Joslyn, and the mother murmured: "My poor boy! my poor boy!"
"As you are my nearest relatives," continued Rob, not noticing these exclamations, "I will allow you to come into the back yard and see me start. You will then understand something of my electrical powers."
They followed him at once, although with unbelieving faces, and on the way Rob clasped the little machine to his left wrist, so that his coat sleeve nearly hid it.
When they reached the lawn at the back of the house Rob kissed them all good-by, much to his sisters' amusement, and turned the indicator of the little instrument to the word "up."
Immediately he began to rise into the air.
"Don't worry about me!" he called down to them. "Good-by!"
Mrs. Joslyn, with a scream of terror, hid her face in her hands.
"He'll break his neck!" cried the astounded father, tipping back his head to look after his departing son.
"Come back! Come back!" shouted the girls to the soaring adventurer.
"I will--some day!" was the far-away answer.
Having risen high enough to pass over the tallest tree or steeple, Rob put the indicator to the east of the compass-dial and at once began moving rapidly in that direction.
The sensation was delightful. He rode as gently as a feather floats, without any exertion at all on his own part; yet he moved so swiftly that he easily distanced a railway train that was speeding in the same direction.
"This is great!" reflected the youth. "Here I am, traveling in fine style, without a penny to pay any one! And I've enough food to last me a month in my coat pocket. This electricity is the proper stuff, after all! And the Demon's a trump, and no mistake. Whee-ee! How small everything looks down below there. The people are bugs, and the houses are soap-boxes, and the trees are like clumps of grass. I seem to be passing over a town. Guess I'll drop down a bit, and take in the sights."
He pointed the indicator to the word "down," and at once began dropping through the air. He experienced the sensation one feels while descending in an elevator. When he reached a point just above the town he put the indicator to the zero mark and remained stationary, while he examined the place. But there was nothing to interest him, particularly; so after a brief survey he once more ascended and continued his journey toward the east.
At about two o'clock in the afternoon he reached the city of Boston, and alighting unobserved in a quiet street he walked around for several hours enjoying the sights and wondering what people would think of him if they but knew his remarkable powers. But as he looked just like any other boy no one noticed him in any way.
It was nearly evening, and Rob had wandered down by the wharves to look at the shipping, when his attention was called to an ugly looking bull dog, which ran toward him and began barking ferociously.
"Get out!" said the boy, carelessly, and made a kick at the brute.
The dog uttered a fierce growl and sprang upon him with bared teeth and flashing red eyes. Instantly Rob drew the electric tube from his pocket, pointed it at the dog and pressed the button. Almost at the same moment the dog gave a yelp, rolled over once or twice and lay still.
"I guess that'll settle him," laughed the boy; but just then he heard an angry shout, and looking around saw a policeman running toward him.
"Kill me dog, will ye--eh?" yelled the officer; "well, I'll just run ye in for that same, an' ye'll spend the night in the lockup!" And on he came, with drawn club in one hand and a big revolver in the other.
"You'll have to catch me first," said Rob, still laughing, and to the amazement of the policeman he began rising straight into the air.
"Come down here! Come down, or I'll shoot!" shouted the fellow, flourishing his revolver.
Rob was afraid he would; so, to avoid accidents, he pointed the tube at him and pressed the button.