airplane, expertly launched from the rear of the bus, glided up the aisle
and struck the windshield.
muttered the sour-faced driver.
day, pick up a bunch of 'em and take 'em to school. Take 'em home again.
And now on
my day off, too."
be boys, Frank," consoled Gus Wilson, who was sitting behind him.
Garage owner peered through a window at the snow-covered country-side.
"Next turnoff to the right is ours."
answered by a grunt from the driver and a crescendo of falsetto. "Yip-pees"
from the youngsters who filled the yellow school bus. Doc Garvey, the
dentist, had chartered it to treat the Boys Club to an overnight ice-fishing
trip on Little River, Gus had come along because he liked fishing - and
Hinchman, the driver, and also owner of a fleet of school buses, didn't like
either, "Kids," he repeated in disgust as he double-clutched, jamming into a
lower gear to wheel off the highway.
up and zippered his jacket.
almost there, Frank. You'll soon be rid of us."
tootin' I will. I'm not crazy enough to spend the night in a sleeping bag
in this weather. Soon as the kids get all this gear unloaded I'm heading
for a nice, cozy motel over at Centerville."
assigned some of the parka clad youngsters to gathering firewood, others to
unloading tents and sleeping bags from the bus. Both chores were
accompanied by boisterous impromptu snowball fights. Gus went off to check
the ice. Frank Hinchman stayed in the bus, scowling and reading a magazine. As Gus
came back up the river embankment to get a chain saw for cutting ice holes,
he saw Hinchman ducking snowballs.
quit messing with my bus!" he shouted at the frolicking youngsters, shaking
a fist angrily.
intervened. "Okay, now boys. Get along and set up camp like Doc told
you." When they scampered off, he turned to Hinchman.
good kids, Frank. Join us for supper and you'll see."
kidding, Gus? Soon as they get the rest of the stuff out I'm on my way." Gus saw
that Hinchman was shivering.
warm yourself at the campfire, Frank? There's a pot of coffee brewing."
mind if I do," said Hinchman.
shadows of the boy's windbreaks lengthened across the ice and the clear blue
winter sky had taken on a tinge of red. Gus looked at his wrist watch.
time to knock off, Doc."
stomach agrees with you," said Doc. He held up a string of fish. "I can
almost smell these sizzling in the pan."
all for today, boys," Gus called out. "Get your
tackle together and head for camp." He picked
up his own gear. "Come on, Doc." Keeping an
eye on their charges, they trudged across the snow-covered ice and up the
river bank. At the top, Gus nudged his friend.
bus is still there." "About
time you fellows came back." It was
Hinchman, huddled close to a dying fire. "My bus won't start."
wrong?" Gus asked.
mechanic. Take a look at it."
sighed. "Let's try starting her." Hinchman
climbed in and stepped on the starter. The engine caught heaved and died as
if choked off. "Sounds
like fuel trouble," Gus said. "Nonsense,
I had this engine worked on yesterday - carburetor overhaul, new fuel pump,"
Hinchman's eyes narrowed. "Could it
be ice in the gas line?"
be," Gus said, "but I doubt it."
It's those kids. You saw me chase them away, I'll bet they poured water in
my gas tank."
here, Frank," Gus said. "Those boys are having the time of their lives. I'm sure
they don't know or care if you exist. Besides, cold as it is today, water
would freeze before it reached the bottom of the filler tube."
your way," said Hinchman. "Just you
get me out of here."
reached over, opened a dash compartment, and looked in, "Adjustable wrench,
pliers, and a screwdriver."
have to do," Gus said. "Now, if we're going to check the fuel, ask one of
the boys to let you have an air-mattress inflating pump."
Hinchman returned, Gus had removed the gas line from the fuel-pump inlet. Wrapping a
glove around the air-pump hose, he jammed it into the gas tank filler. Then
he went back to the engine.
Frank," he called, "Pump." Gasoline
began to dribble, then throbbed from the disconnected line. "Was I
right - about the ice?"
line's clean. Come and hold a flash-light for me." Hinchman
watched anxiously as Gus reconnected the line and unhooked the other side of
the fuel pump. He grounded the solenoid to run the starter. Gas gushed in
even pulses from the outlet.
like carburetor trouble, unless the line in clogged between the pump and the
when I warm up my hands." Gus stuck
them into his jacket pockets.
kicked a tire. "Darn that relief driver. He should have had this job only
his wife's having a baby." He kicked the tire again. "More kids!"
like kicking Hinchman. Instead he got back to work. Finding the wrench
flats on the flexible fuel line rounded off at the carburetor end, he
wrenched on the carburetor inlet fitting itself. With his lips to the line,
he blew back into it. No obstruction. Then Gus
had a hunch. "Let me have the flashlight." Moving into a position so
Hinchman couldn't see, he groped into the open carburetor inlet hole with
the screwdriver. "Afraid
it's carburetor trouble, Frank," he said, straightening up. "No job to
Hinchman could argue the point, one of the boys came running. "Hey, Mr.
Wilson! Doc says to tell you chow's on. We're having fried fish, skillet
bread, and potatoes baked in the coals."
it, Frank? Sounds mighty good to me." "Got to
eat, I guess," Hinchman said grudgingly.
hour later the boys were gathered around the campfire singing "Old MacDonald
Had a Farm." Gus filled
a pipe and struck a match. "Had
enough to eat, Frank?"
hardly move," Hinchman said. "Must
admit I don't remember when food tasted so good." He yawned. "Did those
boys really cook everything, Doc?"
right from cleaning the fish."
how cold it is." "Last time
I looked at the thermometer it was 18 degrees," Doc said.
up. "Here's an extra sleeping bag, Frank. Might as well crawl in and keep
warm - only until you're ready to bed down in the bus, of course."
long before Hinchman was snoring. "Better zip him up," Doc said. "It's time
we all hit the sack."
woke up fighting the confinement of his sleeping bag. He sat up, shielding
his eyes from the early morning sun. Gus came over, warming his hands on a
steaming cup of coffee.
Gus. What am I doing here? I'm supposed to be in the bus."
"Doc and I
weren't going to carry you there, Frank."
fell asleep," Hinchman said sheepishly. His nose twitched. "Say, what's
eggs, hot cakes and coffee, Mr. Hinchman," said one of the boys.
watched the bus owner shovel in the food, talking to the boys between
mouthfuls. Frank Hinchman was smiling.
believe it," Doc Garvey said. "I even think I heard the old cuss laugh." "Glad he's
in a good mood," Gus said, "because I'm going to have to tell him I fixed
his school bus last night."
Gus dug a
tiny tube-shaped brass screen out of his pocket. One end
was open. The other had a recessed brass cup.
end of this filter screen should have been pushed over a shoulder on the end
of the carburetor fuel-inlet fitting," Gus explained. "When I removed the
fitting, the screen didn't come out with it. I fished it out."
the fix?" Doc asked. "You could have started the car then?"
nodded. "There's a little spring to hold the filter screen over the end of
the fitting. Someone who worked on Frank's bus forgot to put it in. The
screen worked itself off the end and surges of gas forced the capped end up
against the inlet hole, cutting off the fuel supply. When the
float chamber emptied, the engine quit."
grinned. "Gus the Good Samaritan. What if it had turned out to be a frozen
would have been easy, Doc. The big problem was thawing out the driver."