Recap: Sender is sent home from the Wright brothers in disgrace. They think he took money and gave their plans away to someone. Sender can’t tell them the truth because Oliver Crook Haigh threatened Sender that if he told anyone, Haigh would do something to cause an accident to the Wright brothers’ flying machine.

I plodded down the block towards home. I had so wished to come back with a bicycle. Bubby answered the door. “What happened?”

“I – I…they didn’t need me for now.”

Bubby eyed me. “Well, go wash up and then you can help set up for dinner.”

Ruchy limped down the stairs. “Sender!”

She didn’t ask for the bicycle. Ruchy wouldn’t do that.

I wished I could unburden myself and tell Ruchy what happened, but it was too dangerous to confide in anyone. I was stuck living with a secret that made me look awful.

“Did you see more flights?” Ruchy asked.

“I saw hundreds. They flew through the air so smoothly.” I tried to demonstrate with my hands.

Eventually, I fell into a routine, carrying the heavy ice blocks along with the heavy burden of two secrets. How I wished I could have told Orville that I hadn’t given away his plans for money. I longed to erase that look of disbelief and disappointment in his eye.

One day, I saw Ruchy sitting outside. She was cheering and yelling as her friends ran races. “I’m keeping score!” she said.

I felt my secret weighing me down just then, like a giant block of ice on my shoulder.

At night, I would lie awake, reliving the moment when the Wrights came back and saw me sitting next to the open safe. Every time I thought about it, fresh tears sprang to my eyes. I hated that Mr. Haigh. I hated him.

The next morning, Ruchy rushed over to me with a newspaper. “Look, the Wrights got their patent and there are two articles about them on the front page.

Wilbur had demonstrated his flyer to the French with great fanfare, and now Orville was heading to Washington to demonstrate.

I noticed a separate article.

I sat down and read it with a lot of interest.

“Oliver Crook Haigh arrested along with Mr. Harold Scram. Both face charges of grand larceny and manslaughter.”

Baruch Hashem, that Haigh was in police custody. He couldn’t harm the Wrights physically or hurt them with using their plans. Now, I could tell the Wrights what happened, and everything would be back to normal. How I longed to be there in the bicycle shop explaining what had happened.

Just then, there was knock on the door.

It was a telegram for Bubby. We hovered near her as she read.

“Adam is heading to Ohio. He’s planning a trip to Washington, DC, and wants to stay with us first.”

I wondered if he was planning to go see Orville in Washington. I didn’t say anything, but a tiny spark of hope warmed me. If Uncle Adam was going, maybe he would take me with him and I could explain to Orville and then everything would be all right.

Uncle Adam arrived the next night. I couldn’t wait to ask him his plan and if I could go with him. I prayed it would work out the same as it had last time, with Bubby agreeing to me going. I had to go and explain to the Wrights. I just had to.

I needed a time to be alone with Uncle Adam. I found it at bedtime, when Bubby retired for the night and Ruchy was in her room.

“Uncle Adam, I need to talk to you.”

He pulled out a pipe and lit it. “Shoot.”

I told him what happened and how Haigh had framed me and made it look like I’d given away the Wrights plans willingly.

“So, don’t you see I just have to go back and explain. I heard you might be going to see Orville fly in Washington. Could I go with you?”

Uncle Adam puffed on his pipe. “You do need to clear your name, and it will prevent a chilul Hashem. Of course I will be glad to take you with me. I’ll ask your Bubby tomorrow.”

I hugged my uncle. “Thank you! Thank you so much!”

Bubby was not thrilled, but she said if Adam would be with me, she would allow me to go. However, watching a man flying in the air was a crazy idea and she couldn’t see why we wanted to do it.

The following day, I was packed and strolling beside Uncle Adam to the train. My heart was pounding, and I felt so relieved. In a short while, the Wrights would know the truth and I wouldn’t have to feel the terrible mistaken shame any longer.

When we arrived in Washington, we headed straight for Fort Myer, where Orville was demonstrating his test flights. Uncle Adam had shown me the newspapers that were shouting the exciting news. Orville Wright had flown for a week now and he’d caused quite a sensation. He broke world records. He’d circled the parade ground 55 times and he was in the air an hour and three minutes.

“It’s wonderful!” Uncle Adam said.

They were world famous now. “Can we hurry to see him before he takes off today?” I begged my uncle.

“Yes, we’ll head to the shed where they keep the glider.” As soon as we reached it, I realized this wasn’t going to be as easy as I’d thought. There were like a thousand spectators standing near the glider, and policemen were blocking the area around it.

Uncle Adam tried to maneuver through the crowd, pulling me along with him. He approached one of the policemen. “Excuse me, we need to speak to Mr. Wright.”

“You and everyone else here. Move along. Move along.”

Uncle Adam showed him his ID and explained he has important business, but the officer grew angry and told him that he’d better leave. We headed to the edge of the crowd. “Don’t worry, Sender. This isn’t the best time to speak with him right before he takes off. We’ll go over to him later.”

We stood with the crowd, waiting for Orville to fly. A shout went up from the crowd as the weights of the catapult dropped and the flying machine lifted up into the air.

Uncle Adam shielded his eyes with his hand as he followed the progress of the glider. “Sender, it’s spectacular!”

I thought of the time Orville had taken me up in the air. I could relive that floating free sensation as I watched Orville soaring above us.

I thought about the times I’d been with the Wrights. I recalled the first week, when they’d rescued me from the cyclone, and how they had been so patient teaching me how to use the camera. What must they think of me? They must think I’d sold out and given their plans to that criminal. It hurt my heart to think about it.

Uncle Adam stared at his watch. “He’s been up there for over an hour. I just can’t believe it.”

The crowd was cheering, and everyone had that look of wonder and disbelief. We were all witnessing history.

When Orville finally landed, Uncle Adam and I headed towards the plane, but the crowd was thick and we couldn’t get anywhere near him.

“Sender, don’t worry. I have an appointment with him tomorrow night. We’ll be able to speak to him then, and it will be better away from this huge mob.”

I nodded, trying not to let my uncle see how disappointed I felt.

Every extra minute that he thought ill of me was painful. I was so close to exonerating myself and reestablishing good will. It was so hard to wait.

To be continued…

 By Susie Garber