Friday, October 5, 2007



The Speediest Car on the Road
Or Fun and Adventure on the Road
Or the Rivals of Lake Carlopa
Or the Stirring Cruise of the Red Cloud
Or Under the Ocean for Sunken Treasure
Or the Speediest Car on the Road
Tom Swift and His Electric Runabout
"Father," exclaimed Tom Swift, looking up from a paper he was
reading, "I think I can win that prize!"
"What prize is that?" inquired the aged inventor, gazing away
from a drawing of a complicated machine, and pausing in his task
of making some intricate calculations. "You don't mean to say,
Tom, that you're going to have a try for a government prize for a
submarine, after all."
"No," not a submarine prize, dad," and the youth laughed.
"Though our Advance would take the prize away from almost any
other under-water boat, I imagine. No, it's another prize I'm
thinking about."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, I see by this paper that the Touring Club of America has
offered three thousand dollars for the speediest electric car.
The tests are to come off this fall, on a new and specially built
track on Long Island, and it's to be an endurance contest for
twenty-four hours, or a race for distance, they haven't yet
decided. But I'm going to have a try for it, dad, and, besides
winning the prize, I think I'll take Andy Foger down a peg.
"What's Andy been doing now?"
"Oh, nothing more than usual. He's always mean, and looking
for a chance to make trouble for me, but I didn't refer to
anything special He has a new auto, you know, and he boasts that
it's the fastest one in this country. I'll show him that it
isn't, for I'm going to win this prize with the speediest car on
the road."
"But, Tom, you haven't any automobile, you know," and Mr. Swift
looked anxiously at his son, who was smiling confidently. "You
can't be going to make your motor-cycle into an auto; are you?"
"No, dad."
"Then how are you going to take part in the prize contest?
Besides, electric cars, as far as I know, aren't specially
"I know it, and one reason why this club has arranged the
contest is to improve the quality of electric automobiles. I'm
going to build an electric runabout, dad."
"An electric runabout? But it will have to be operated with a
storage battery, Tom, and you haven't--"
"I guess you're going to say I haven't any storage battery,
dad," interrupted Mr. Swift's son. "Well, I haven't yet, but I'm
going to have one. I've been working on--"
"Oh, ho!" exclaimed the aged inventor with a laugh. "So that's
what you've been tinkering over these last few weeks, eh, Tom? I
suspected it was some new invention, but I didn't suppose it was
that. Well, how are you coming on with it?"
"Pretty good, I think. I've got a new idea for a battery, and I
made an experimental one. I gave it some pretty severe tests, and
it worked fine."
"But you haven't tried it out in a car yet, over rough roads,
and under severe conditions have you?"
"No, I haven't had a chance. In fact, when I invented the
battery I had no idea of using it on a car I thought it might
answer for commercial purposes, or for storing a current
generated by windmills. But when I read that account in the
papers of the Touring Club, offering a prize for the best
electric car, it occurred to me that I might put my battery into
an auto, and win."
"Hum," remarked Mr. Swift musingly. "I don't take much stock in
electric autos, Tom. Gasolene seems to be the best, or perhaps
steam, generated by gasolene. I'm afraid you'll be disappointed.
All the electric runabouts I ever saw, while they were very nice
cars, didn't seem able to go so very fast, or very far."
"That's true, but it's because they didn't have the right kind
of a battery. You know an electric locomotive can make pretty
good speed, Dad. Over a hundred miles an hour in tests."
"Yes, but they don't run by storage batteries. They have a
third rail, and powerful motors," and Mr. Swift looked
quizzically at his son. He loved to argue with him, for he said
it made Tom think, and often the two would thus thresh out some
knotty point of an invention, to the interests of both.
"Of course, Dad, there is a good deal of theory in what I'm
thinking of," the lad admitted. "But it does seem to me that if
you put the right kind of a battery into an automobile, it could
scoot along pretty lively. Look what speed a trolley car can
"Yes, Tom, but there again they get their power from an
overhead wire."
"Some of them don't. There's a new storage battery been
invented by a New Jersey man, which does as well as the third
rail or the overhead wire. It was after reading about his battery
that I thought of a plan for mine. It isn't anything like his;
perhaps not as good in some ways, but, for what I want, it is
better in some respects, I think. For one thing it can be
recharged very quickly."
"Now Tom, look here," said Mr. Swift earnestly, laying aside
his papers, and coming over to where his son sat. "You know I
never interfere with your inventions. In fact, the more you think
of the better I like it. The airship you helped build certainly
did all that could be desired, and--"
"That reminds me. Mr. Sharp and Mr. Damon are out in it now,"
interrupted Tom. "They ought to be back soon. Yes, Dad, the
airship Red Cloud certainly scooted along."
"And the submarine, too," continued the aged inventor. "Your
ideas regarding that were of service to me, and helped in our
task of recovering the treasure, but I'm afraid you're going to
be disappointed in the storage battery. You may get it to work,
but I don't believe you can make it powerful enough to attain any
great speed. Why don't you confine yourself to making a battery
for stationary work?"
"Because, Dad, I believe I can build a speedy car, and I'm
going to try it. Besides I want to race Andy Foger, and beat him,
even if I don't win the prize. I'm going to build that car, and
it will make fast time."
"Well, go ahead, Tom," responded his father, after a pause. "Of
course you can use the shops here as much as you want, and Mr.
Sharp, Mr. Jackson, and I will help you all we can. Only don't be
disappointed, that's all."
"I won't, Dad. Suppose you come out to my shop and I'll show
you a sample battery I've been testing for the last week. I have
it geared to a small motor, and it's been running steadily for
some time. I want to see what sort of a record it's made."
Father and son crossed the yard, and entered a shop which the
lad considered exclusively his own. There he had made many
machines, and pieces of apparatus, and had invented a number of
articles which had been patented, and yielded him considerable of
an income.
"There's the battery, Dad," he said, pointing to a complicated
mechanism in one corner
"What's that buzzing noise?" asked Mr. Swift. "That's the
little motor I run from the new cells. Look here," and Tom
switched on an electric light above the experimental battery,
from which he hoped so much. It consisted of a steel can, about
the size of the square gallon tin in which maple syrup comes, and
from it ran two wires which were attached to a small motor that
was industriously whirring away.
Tom looked at a registering gauge connected with it.
"That's pretty good," remarked the young inventor.
"What is it, Tom?" and his father peered about the shop.
"Why this motor has run an equivalent of two hundred miles on
one charging of the battery! That's much better than I expected.
I thought if I got a hundred out of it I'd be doing well. Dad, I
believe, after I improve my battery a bit, that I'll have the
very thing I want! I'll install a set of them in a car, and it
will go like the wind. I'll --" Tom's enthusiastic remarks were
suddenly interrupted by a low, rumbling sound.
"Thunder!" exclaimed Mr. Swift. "The storm is coming, and Mr.
Sharp and Mr. Damon in the airship--"
Hardly had he spoken than there sounded a crash on the roof of
the Swift house, not far away. At the same time there came cries
of distress, and the crash was repeated.
"Come on, Dad! Something has happened!" yelled Tom, dashing
from the shop, followed by his parent. They found themselves in
the midst of a rain storm, as they raced toward the house, on the
roof of which the smashing noise was again heard.
Tom Swift was a lad of action, and his quickness in hurrying
out to investigate what had happened when he was explaining about
his new battery, was characteristic of him. Those of my readers
who know him, through having read the previous books of this
series, need not be told this, but you who, perhaps, are just
making his acquaintance, may care to know a little more about
As told in my first book, "Tom Swift and His Motor-Cycle" the
young inventor lived with his father, Barton Swift, a widower, in
the town of Shopton, New York. Mr. Swift was also an inventor of
In my initial volume of this series, Tom became possessed of a
motor-cycle in a peculiar way. It was sold to him by a Mr.
Wakefield Damon, a wealthy gentleman who was unfortunate in
riding it. On his speedy machine, which Tom improved by several
inventions, he had a number of adventures. The principal one was
being attacked by a number of bad men, known as the "Happy Harry
Gang," who wished to obtain possession of a valuable turbine
patent model belonging to Mr. Swift. Tom was taking it to a
lawyer, when he was waylaid, and chloroformed. Later he traced
the gang, and, with the assistance of Mr. Damon and Eradicate
Sampson, an aged colored man who made a living for himself and
his mule, Boomerang, by doing odd jobs, the lad found the thieves
and recovered a motor-boat which had been stolen. But the men got
In the second volume, called "Tom Swift and His Motor-Boat,"
Tom bought at auction the boat stolen by, and recovered from, the
thieves, and proceeded to improve it. While he was taking his
father out on a cruise for Mr Swift's health, the Happy Harry
Gang made a successful attempt to steal some valuable inventions
from the Swift house. Tom started to trace them, and incidentally
he raced and beat Andy Foger, a rich bully. On their way down the
lake, after the robbery, Tom, his father and Ned Newton, Tom's
chum, saw a man hanging from the trapeze of a blazing balloon
over Lake Carlopa. The balloonist was Mr. John Sharp and he was
rescued by Tom in a thrilling fashion. In his motor-boat, Tom had
much pleasure, not the least of which was taking out a young lady
named Miss Mary Nestor, whose acquaintance he had made after
stopping her runaway horse, which his bicycle had frightened.
Tom's association with Miss Nestor soon ripened into something
deeper than mere friendship.
It developed that Mr Sharp, whom Tom had saved from the burning
balloon, was an aeronaut of note, and had once planned to build
an airship. After his recovery from his thrilling experience, he
mentioned the matter to Mr. Swift and his son, with whom he took
up his residence. This fitted right in with Tom's ideas, and soon
father, son and the balloonist were constructing the Red Cloud,
as they named their airship. It was finally completed, as related
in "Tom Swift and His Airship," made a successful trial trip, and
won a prize. It was planned to make a longer journey, and Tom,
Mr. Sharp and Mr. Damon agreed to go together. Mr. Damon was an
odd individual, who was continuously blessing some part of his
anatomy, his clothing or some inanimate object but, for all that,
he was a fine man.
The night before Tom and his friends started off in their
airship, the Shopton Bank vault was blown open and seventy-five
thousand dollars was taken. Tom and his friends did not know of
this, but, no sooner had the young inventor, Mr. Sharp and Mr.
Damon sailed away, than the police arrived at Mr. Swift's house
to arrest them. They were charged with the robbery, and with
having sailed away with the booty.
It appeared that Andy Foger said he had seen Tom hanging around
the bank the night of the robbery, with a bag of burglar tools in
his possession. Search was immediately begun for the airship, the
occupants of which were, meanwhile, speeding on.
Tom and his two friends had trouble. They were nearly burned up
in a forest fire, and were fired upon by a crowd of people with
rifles, who, reading of the bank robbery and the reward offered
for the capture of the thieves, hoped to bring down the airship.
The fact that they were fired upon caused Tom and the two
aeronauts to descend to make an investigation, and for the first
time they learned of the bank theft. How they got track of the
real robbers, took the sheriff with them in the airship, and
raided the gang will be found set down at length in the book.
Also how Tom administered well-deserved thrashing to Andy Foger.
Mr. Swift did not accompany his son in the airship, and when
asked why he did not care to make the trip, said he was working
on a new type of submarine boat, which he hoped to enter in the
government trials, to win a prize. In the fourth volume of the
series, called "Tom Swift and his Submarine," you may read how
successful Mr. Swift was.
When the submarine, called the Advance, was finished, the party
made a trip to recover three hundred thousand dollars in gold
from a sunken treasure ship, off the coast of Uruguay, South
America. They sailed beneath the seas for many miles, and were in
great peril at times. One reason for this was that a rival firm
of submarine builders got wind of the treasure, and tried to get
ahead of the Swifts in recovering it. How Tom and his friends
succeeded in their quest, how they nearly perished at the bottom
of the sea, how they were captured by a foreign war vessel, and
sentenced to death, how they fought with a school of giant sharks
and how they blew up the wreck to recover the money is all told
of in the book.
On their return to civilization with the gold, Mr. Swift, Tom,
and their friends deposited the money in the Shopton Bank, where
Ned Newton worked. Ned was a bright lad, but had not been
advanced as rapidly as he deserved, and Tom knew this. He asked
his father to speak to the president, Mr. Pendergast, in Ned's
behalf, and, as a result the lad was made assistant cashier, for
the request of a man who controlled a three hundred thousand
dollar deposit was not to be despised.
In building the submarine Tom and his father rented a large
cottage on the New Jersey seacoast, but, on returning from their
treasure-quest they went back to Shopton, leaving the submarine
at the boathouse of the shore cottage, which was near the city of
Atlantis. That was in the fall of the year, and all that winter
the young inventor had been busy on many things, not the least of
which was his storage battery. It was now spring, and seeing the
item in the paper, about the touring club prize for an electric
auto, had given him a new idea.
But all thoughts of electric cars, and everything else, were
driven from the mind of the young man, when, with his father, he
rushed out to see the cause of the crash on the roof of the Swift
"There's something up there, Tom," called his father, as he
splashed on through the rain.
"That's right," added his son. "And somebody, too, to judge by
the fuss they're making."
"Maybe the house has been struck by lightning!" suggested the
aged inventor.
"No, the storm isn't severe enough for that; and, besides, if
the house had been struck you'd hear Mrs. Baggert yelling, Dad.
At that moment a woman's voice cried out:
"Mr. Swift! Tom! Where are you? Something dreadful has
"There she goes!" remarked Mr. Swift, as he splashed into a mud
"Bless my deflection rudder!" suddenly cried a voice from the
flat roof of the Swift house. "Hello! I say, is anyone down
"Yes, we are," answered Tom. "Is that you, Mr. Damon?"
"Bless my collar button! It certainly is."
"Where's Mr. Sharp? I don't hear him."
"Oh, I'm here all right," answered the balloonist. "I'm trying
to get the airship clear of the chimney. Mr. Damon--"
"Yes, I steered wrong!" interrupted the odd man. "Bless my
liver pin, but it was so dark I couldn't see, and when that clap
of thunder came I shifted the deflection rudder instead of the
lateral one, and tried to knock over your chimney."
"Are either of you hurt?" asked Mr. Swift anxiously.
"No, not at all," replied Mr. Sharp. "We were moving slowly,
ready for a landing."
"Is the airship damaged?" inquired Tom.
"I don't know. Not much, I guess," was the answer of the
aeronaut. "I've stopped the engine, and I don't like to start it
again until I can see what shape we're in."
"I'll come up, with Mr. Jackson," called Tom, and he hastily
summoned Garret Jackson, an engineer, who had been in the service
of Mr. Swift for many years. Together they proceeded to the roof
by a stairway that led to a scuttle.
"Is anyone killed?" asked Mrs. Baggert, as Tom hurried up the
stairs. "Don't tell me there is, Tom!"
"Well, I don't have to tell you, for no one is," replied the
young inventor with a laugh. "It's all right. The airship tried
to collide with the chimney, that's all."
He was soon on the large, flat roof of the dwelling, and, with
the aid of lanterns he, the engineer, and Mr. Sharp made a hasty
"Anything wrong?" inquired Mr. Damon, looking out from the
cabin of the Red Cloud where he had taken refuge after the crash,
and to get out of the wet.
"Not much," answered Tom. "One of the forward planes is
smashed, but we can rise by means of the gas, and float down. Is
all clear, Mr. Sharp?"
"All clear," replied the balloonist, for the airship had now
been wheeled back from the entanglement with the chimney.
"Then here we go!" cried Tom, as he and the aeronaut entered
the craft, while Mr. Jackson descended through the scuttle.
There came a fiercer burst to the storm, and, amid a series of
dazzling lightning flashes and the muttering of thunder, the
airship rose from the roof. Tom switched on the search-light,
and, starting the big propellers, guided the craft skillfully
toward the big shed where it was housed when not in use.
With the grace of a bird it turned about in the air, and
settled to the ground. It was the work of but a few minutes to
run it into the shed. Then they all started for the house.
"Bless my umbrella! How it rains!" cried Mr. Damon, as he
splashed on through numerous puddles. "We got back just in time,
Mr. Sharp."
"Where did you go?" asked the lad.
"Why we took a flight of about fifty miles and stopped at my
house in Waterfield for supper. Were you anxious about us?"
"A little when it began to storm," replied Tom.
"Anything new since we left?" asked Mr. Sharp, for it was the
custom of himself, or some of his friends, to take little trips
in the airship. They thought no more of it than many do of going
for a short spin in an automobile.
"Yes, there is something new," said Mr. Swift, as the party,
all drenched now, reached the broad veranda.
"Bless my gaiters!" cried Mr. Damon. "What is it? I hope the
Happy Harry gang hasn't robbed you again; nor Berg and his men
tried to take that treasure away from us, after we worked so hard
to get it from the wreck."
"No, it isn't that," replied Mr. Swift. "The truth is that Tom
thinks he has invented a storage battery that will revolutionize
matters. He's going to build an electric automobile, he says."
"I am," declared the lad, as the others looked at him, "and it
will be the speediest one you ever saw, too!"
"Well, Tom," remarked Mr. Sharp, after a pause following the
lad's announcement. "I didn't know you had any ambitions in that
line. Tell us more about the battery. What system do you use;
lead plates and sulphuric acid?"
"Oh, that's out of date long ago," declared the lad.
"Well, I don't know much about electricity," admitted the
aeronaut. "I'll take my chances in an airship or a balloon, but
when it comes to electricity I'm down and out."
"So am I," admitted Mr. Damon. "Bless my gizzard, it's all I
can do to put a new spark plug in my automobile. Where is your
new battery, Tom?"
"Out in my shop, running yet if it hasn't been frightened by
the airship smash," replied the lad, somewhat proudly. "It's an
oxide of nickel battery, with steel and oxide of iron negative
"What solution do you use, Tom?" asked Mr. Swift. "I didn't get
that far in questioning you before the crash came," he added.
"Well I have, in the experimental battery, a solution of
potassium hydrate," replied the lad, "but I think I'm going to
change it, and add some lithium hydrate to it. I think that will
make it stronger."
"Bless my watch chain!" exclaimed Mr. Damon. "It's all Greek to
me. Suppose you let us see it, Tom? I like to see wheels go
'round, but I'm not much of a hand for chemical terms."
"If you're sure you're not hurt by the airship smash, I will,"
declared the lad.
"Oh, we're not hurt a bit," insisted Mr. Sharp. "As I said we
were moving slow, for I knew it was about time to land. Mr. Damon
was steering--"
"Yes I thought I'd try my hand at it, as it seemed so easy,"
interrupted the eccentric man. "But never again--not for mine! I
couldn't see the house, and, before I knew it we were right over
the roof. Then the chimney seemed to stick itself up suddenly in
front of us, and--well, you know the rest. I'm willing to pay for
any damage I caused."
"Oh, not at all!" replied Tom. "It's easy enough to put on a
new plane, or, for that matter, we can operate the Red Cloud
without it. But come on, I'll show you my sample battery."
"Here, take umbrellas!" Mrs. Baggert called after them as they
started toward the shop, for it was still raining.
"We don't mind getting wet," replied the young inventor. "It's
in the interests of science."
"Maybe it is. You don't mind a wetting, but I mind you coming
in and dripping water all over the carpets!" retorted the
"Bless my overshoes, I'm afraid we have wet the carpets a
trifle now," admitted Mr. Damon ruefully, as he looked down at a
puddle, which had formed where he had been standing.
"That's the reason I want you to take umbrellas this trip,"
insisted Mrs. Baggert.
They complied, and were soon in the shop, where Tom explained
his battery. The small motor was still running and had, as the
lad had said, gone the equivalent of over two hundred miles.
"If a small battery does as well as that, what will a larger
one do?" asked Mr. Damon.
"Much better, I hope," replied the youth. "But Dad doesn't seem
to have much faith in them."
"Well," admitted Mr. Swift, "I must say I am skeptical. Still,
I acknowledge Tom has done some pretty good work along electrical
lines. He helped me with the positive and negative plates on the
submarine, and, maybe--well, we'll wait and see," he concluded.
"If you build a car I hope you give me a ride in it," said Mr.
Damon. "I've ridden fast in the air, and swiftly on top of, and
under, the water. Now I'd like to ride rapidly on top of the
earth. The gasolene auto doesn't go very fast."
"I'll give you a ride that will make your hair stand up!"
prophesied Tom, and the time was to come when he would make good
that prediction.
The little party in the machine shop talked at some length
about Tom's battery. He showed them how it was constructed, and
gave them some of his ideas regarding the new type of auto he
planned to build.
"Well," remarked Mr. Swift at length, "if you want to keep your
brain fresh, Tom, you must get to bed earlier than this. It's
nearly twelve o'clock."
"And I want to get up early !" exclaimed the lad. "I'm going to
start to build a larger battery to-morrow."
"And I'm going to repair the airship," added Mr. Sharp.
"Bless my night cap, I promised my wife I'd be home early tonight,
too!" suddenly exclaimed Mr. Damon. "I don't fancy making
the trip back to Waterfield in my auto, though. Something will be
sure to happen. I'll blow out a tire, or a spark plug will get
sooty on me and--"
"It's raining harder than ever," interrupted Tom. "Better stay
here to-night. You can telephone home." Which Mr. Damon did.
Tom was up early the next morning, in spite of the fact that he
did not go to bed in good season, and before breakfast he was
working at his new storage battery. After the meal he hurried
back to the shop, but it was not long before he came out,
wheeling his motor-cycle.
"Where are you going, Tom?" asked Mrs. Baggert.
"Oh, I've got to go to Mansburg to get some steel tubes for my
new battery," he replied. "I thought I had some large enough, but
I haven't." Mansburg was a good-sized town, near Shopton.
"Then I wish you'd bring me a bottle of stove polish,"
requested the housekeeper. "The liquid kind. I'm out of it, and
the stove is as red as a cow."
"All right," agreed the lad, as he leaped into the saddle and
pedaled off down the road. A moment later he had turned on the
power, and was speeding along the highway, which was in good
condition on account of the shower of the night before.
Tom was thinking so deeply of his new invention, and planning
what he would do when he had his electric runabout built, that,
almost before he knew it, he had reached Mansburg, purchased the
steel tubes, and the stove polish, and was on his way back again.
As he was speeding along on a level road, he heard, coming
behind him, an automobile. The lad turned to one side, but, in
spite of this the party in the car began a serenade of the
electric siren, and kept it up, making a wild discord.
"What's the matter with those fellows!" inquired Tom of
himself. "Haven't I given them enough of the road, or has their
steering gear broken?"
He looked back over his shoulder, and it needed but a glance to
show that the car was all right, as regarded the steering
apparatus. And it needed only another glance to disclose the
reason for the shrill sound of the siren.
"Andy Foger!" exclaimed Tom. "I might have known. And Sam and
Pete are with him. Well, if he wants to make me get off the road,
he'll find that I've got as much right as he has!"
He kept on a straight course, wondering if the red-haired, and
squint-eyed bully would dare try to damage the motor-cycle.
A little later Andy's car was beside Tom.
"Why don't you get out of the way," demanded Sam, who could
usually be depended on to aid Andy in all his mean tricks.
"Because I'm entitled to half the road," retorted our hero.
"Humph! A slow-moving machine like yours hasn't any right on
the road," sneered Andy, who had slowed down his car somewhat.
"I haven't, eh?" demanded Tom. "Well, if you'll get down out of
that car for a few minutes I'll soon show you what my rights
Now Andy, more than once, had come to personal encounters with
Tom, much to the anguish of the bully. He did not relish another
chastisement, but his mean spirit could not brook interference.
"Don't you want a race?" he inquired of Tom, in a sneering
tone. "I'll give you a mile start, and beat you! I've got the
fastest car built!"
"You have, eh?" asked Tom, while a grim look came over his
face. "Maybe you'll think differently some day."
"Aw, he's afraid to race; come on," suggested Pete. "Don't
bother with him, Andy."
"No, I guess it wouldn't be worth my while," was the reply of
the bully, and he threw the second gear into place, and began to
move away from the young inventor.
Tom was just as much pleased to be left alone, but he did not
want Andy Foger to think that he could have matters all his own
way. Tom's motor-cycle, since he had made some adjustments to it,
was very swift. In fact there were few autos that could beat it.
He had never tried it against Andy's new car, and he was anxious
to do so.
"I wonder if I would stand any chance, racing him?" thought the
young inventor, as he saw the car slowly pulling away from him.
"I think I'll wait until he gets some distance ahead, and then
I'll see how near I can come to him. If I get anywhere near him
I'm pretty sure I can pass him. I'll try it."
When Andy and his cronies looked back, Tom did not appear to be
doing anything save moving along at moderate speed on his
"You don't dare race!" Pete Bailey shouted to him.
"Wait," was what Tom whispered to himself.
Andy's car was now some distance ahead. The young inventor
waited a little longer, and then turned more power into his
machine. It leaped forward and began to "eat up the road," as Tom
expressed it. He had seen Andy throw in the third gear, but knew
that there was a fourth speed on the bully's car.
"I don't know whether I can beat him on that or not," thought
the lad dubiously. "If I try, and fail, they'll laugh at me. But
I don't think I'm going to fail."
Faster and faster he rode. He was rapidly overhauling Andy's
car now, and, as they heard him approach, the three cronies
turned around.
"He's going to race you, after all, Andy!" cried Sam.
"You mean he's going to try," sneered Andy. "I'll give him all
the racing he wants!"
In another few seconds Tom was beside the auto, and would have
passed it, only Andy opened his throttle a little more. For a
moment the auto jumped ahead, and then, as our hero turned on
still more power, he easily held his own.
"Aw, you can never beat us!" yelled Pete.
"Of course not!" added Sam.
"I'll leave him behind in a second," prophesied Andy. "Wait
until I throw in the other gear," he added to his cronies in a
low voice. "He thinks he's going to beat me. I'll let him think
so, and then I'll spurt ahead."
The two machines were now racing along side by side. Andy's car
was going the limit on third gear, but he still had the fourth
gear in reserve. Tom, too, still had a little margin of speed.
Suddenly Andy reached forward and yanked on a lever. There was
a grinding of cogs as the fourth gear slipped into place, for
Andy did not handle his car skillfully. The effect, however, was
at once apparent. The automobile shot forward.
"Now where are you, Tom Swift?" cried Sam.
Tom said nothing. He merely shifted a lever, and got a better
spark. He also turned on a little more gasolene and opened the
muffler The quickness with which his motor-cycle shot forward
almost threw him from the saddle, but he had a tight grip on the
handle bars. He whizzed past the auto, but, as the latter
gathered speed, it crept up to him, and, once more was on even
terms. Much chagrined at seeing Tom hold pace with him, even for
an instant, Andy shouted;
"Get over on your own side there! You're crowding me!"
"I am not!" yelled back Tom, above the explosions of his
The two were now racing furiously, and Andy, with a savage
look, tried to get more speed out of his car. In spite of all the
bully did, Tom was gradually forging ahead. A little hill was now
in view.
"Here's where I make him take my dust!" cried Andy, but, to his
surprise Tom still kept ahead. The auto began to lose ground, for
it was not made to take hills on high gear.
"Change to third gear quick!" cried Sam.
Andy tried to do it. There was a hesitancy on the part of his
car. It seemed to balk. Tom, looking back, slowed up a trifle. He
could afford to, as Andy was being beaten.
"Go on! Go on!" begged Pete. "You'll have to keep on fourth
gear to beat him, Andy."
"That's what!" murmured the bully. Once more he shifted the
gears. There was a grinding, smashing sound, and the car lost
speed. Then it slowed up still more, and finally stopped. Then it
began to back down hill.
"I've stripped those blamed gears!" exclaimed Andy ruefully.
"Can't you beat him?" asked Pete.
"I could have, easily, if my gears hadn't broken," declared the
bully, but, as a matter of fact, he could not have done so. "I
oughtn't to have changed, going up hill," he added, as he jammed
on the brakes, to stop the car from sliding down the slope.
Tom saw and heard.
"I thought you were so anxious to race," he said, exultantly,
as well he might. "I don't want to try a contest down hill,
though, Andy," and he laughed at the red-haired lad, who was
"Aw, go on!" was all the retort the squint-eyed one could think
of to make.
"I am going on," replied our hero. "Just to show you that I can
go down hill, watch me."
He turned his motor-cycle, and approached Andy's stalled car,
for Tom was some distance in advance of it, up the slope by this
time. As he approached the auto, containing the three
disconcerted cronies, something bounded out of Tom's pocket. It
was the bottle of stove blacking he had purchased for Mrs.
Baggert. The bottle fell in the soft dirt in front of his forward
wheel, and a curious thing happened. Perhaps you have seen a
bicycle or auto tire strike a stone at an angle, and throw it
into the air with great force. That was what happened to the
bottle. Tom's front wheel struck the cork, which fitted tightly,
and, just as when you hit one end of the wooden "catty" and it
bounds up, the bottle described a curve through the air, and flew
straight toward Andy's car. It struck the brass frame of the wind
shield with a crash.
The bottle broke, and in an instant the black liquid was
spattered all over Andy, Sam and Pete. It could not have been
done more effectively if Tom had thrown it by hand. All over
their clothes, their hands and faces, and the front of the car
went the dreary black. Tom looked on, hardly able to believe what
he saw.
"Wow! Wup! Ug! Blug! Mug!" spluttered Sam, who had some of the
stuff in his mouth.
"Oh! Oh!" yelled Pete.
"You did that on purpose, Tom Swift!" shouted Andy, wiping some
of the blacking from his left eye. "I'll have you arrested for
that! You've ruined my car, and look at my suit!"
"Mine's worse!" murmured Sam, glancing down at his light
trousers, which were of the polka-dot pattern now.
"No, mine is," insisted Pete, whose white shirt was of the hue
of a stove pipe.
Andy wiped some of the black stuff from his nose, whence it was
dropping on the steering wheel.
"You just wait!" the bully called to Tom. "I'll get even with
you for this!"
"It was an accident! I didn't mean to do that," explained Tom,
trying not to laugh, as he dismounted from his motorcycle, ready
to render what assistance he could.
The three cronies were in a sorrowful plight. The black fluid
dripped from them, and formed little puddles in the car. Andy had
used his handkerchief to wipe some of the stuff from his face,
but the linen was soon useless, for it quickly absorbed the
"There's a little brook over here," volunteered Tom. "You might
wash in that. The stuff comes off easily. It isn't like ink," and
he had to laugh, as he thought of the happening.
"Here! You quit that!" ordered Andy. "You've gone too far, Tom
"Didn't I tell you it was an accident?" inquired the young
"It wasn't!" cried Sam. "You threw the bottle at us! I saw
"It slipped from my pocket," declared the youth, and he
described how the accident occurred. "I'll help you clean your
car, Andy," he added.
"I don't want your help! If you come near me I'll--I'll punch
your nose!" cried Andy, now almost beside himself with rage.
"All right, if you don't want my help I don't care," answered
Tom, glad enough not to have to soil his hands and clothes. He
felt that it was partly his fault, and he would have done all he
could to remedy matters, but his good offers being declined, he
felt that it was useless to insist further.
He remounted his motor-cycle, and rode off, the last view he
had of the trio being one where they were at the edge of the
brook, trying to remove the worst traces of the black fluid. As
Tom turned around for a final glimpse, Andy shook his fist at
him, and called out something.
"I guess Andy'll have it in for me," mused Tom. "Well, I can't
help it. I owed him something on account, but I didn't figure on
paying it in just this way," and he thought of the time the bully
had locked him in the ballast tanks of the submarine, thereby
nearly smothering him to death.
That night Andy Foger told his father what had happened, for
Mr. Foger inquired the reason for the black stains on his son's
face and hands. But Andy did not give the true version. He said
Tom had purposely thrown the bottle of blacking at him.
"So that's the kind of a lad Tom Swift is, eh?" remarked Andy's
father. "Well, Andy, I think you will soon have a chance to get
even with him."
"How, pop?"
"I can't tell you now, but I have a plan for making Tom sorry
he ever did anything to you, and I will also pay back some old
scores to Mr. Swift and Mr. Damon. I'll ruin their bank for them,
that's what I'll do."
"Ruin their bank, pop? How?"
"You wait and see. The Swift crowd will get off their high
horse soon, or I'm mistaken. My plans are nearly completed, but I
can't tell you about them. I'll ruin Mr. Swift, though, that's
what I'll do," and Mr. Foger shook his head determinedly.
Tom was soon at his home, and Mrs. Baggert, hearing the noise
of his machine, as it entered the front yard, came to the side
"Where's my blacking?" she asked, as our hero dismounted and
untied the bundle of steel tubes he had purchased.
"I--I used it," he answered, laughing.
"Tom Swift! You don't mean to say you took my stove polish to
use in your battery, do you?"
"No, I used it to polish off Andy Foger and some of his
cronies," and the young inventor told, with much gusto, what had
happened. Mrs. Baggert could not help joining in the laugh, and
when Tom offered to ride back and purchase some more of the
polish for her, she said it did not matter, as she could wait
until the next day.
The lad was soon busy in his machine shop, making several
larger cells for the new storage battery. He wanted to give it a
more severe test. He worked for several days on this, and when he
had one unit of cells complete, he attached the motor for an
efficiency trial.
"We'll see how many miles that will make," he remarked to his
"Have you thought anything of the type of car you are going to
build?" asked the aged inventor of his son.
"Yes, somewhat. It will be almost of the regulation style, but
with two removable seats at the rear, with curtains for
protection, and a place in front for two persons. This can also
be protected with curtains when desired."
"But what about the motors and the battery?"
They will be located under the middle of the car. There will be
one set of batteries there, together with the motor, and another
set of batteries will be placed under the removable seats in what
I call the tonneau, though, of course, it isn't really that. A
smaller set will also be placed forward, and there will be ample
room for carrying tools and such things."
"About how far do you expect your car will go with one charging
of the battery?"
"Well, if I can make it do three hundred miles I'll be
satisfied, but I'm going to try for four hundred."
"What will you do when your battery runs out?"
"Recharge it."
"Suppose you're not near a charging station?" "Well, Dad, of
course those are some of the details I've got to work out. I'm
planning a register gauge now, that will give warning about fifty
miles before the battery is run down. That will leave me a margin
to work on. And I'm going to have it fixed so I can take current
from any trolley line, as well as from a regular charging
station. My battery will be capable of being recharged very
quickly, or, in case of need, I can take out the old cells and
put in new ones.
"That's a very good idea. Well, I hope you succeed."
A few evenings after this, when Tom was busy in his machine
shop, he heard some one enter. He looked up from the gauge of the
motor, which he was studying, and, for a moment, he could make
out nothing in the dark interior of the shop, for he was working
in a brilliant light.
"Who's there?" he called sharply, for, more than once
unscrupulous men had endeavored to sneak into the Swift shops to
steal ideas of inventions; if not the actual apparatus itself.
"It's me--Ned Newton," was the cheerful reply.
"Oh, hello, Ned! I was wondering what had become of you,"
responded Tom. "Where have you been lately?"
"Oh, working overtime."
"What's the occasion?"
"We're trying out a new system to increase the bank business."
"What's the matter? Aren't you folks getting business enough,
after the big deposits we made of the bullion from the wreck?"
"Oh, it's not that. But haven't you heard the news? There is
talk of starting a rival bank in Shopton, and that may make us
hustle to hold what business we have, to say nothing of getting
new customers."
"A new bank, eh? Who's going to start it?" "Andy Foger's
father, I hear. You know he was a director in our bank, but he
got out last week."
"What for?"
"Well, he had some difficulty with Mr. Pendergast, the
president. I fancy you had something to do with it, too."
"I?" Tom was plainly surprised.
"Yes, you know you and Mr. Damon and Mr. Sharp captured the
bank robbers, and got back most of the money."
"I guess I do remember it! I wish you could have seen the gang
when we raided them from the clouds, in our airship!"
"Well, you know Andy Foger hoped to collect the five thousand
dollars reward for telling the police that you were the thief,
and of course he got fooled, for you got the reward. Mr. Foger
expected his son would collect the money, and when Andy got left,
it made him sore. He's had a grudge against Mr. Pendergast, and
all the other bank officials ever since, and now he's going to
start a rival bank. So that's why I said it was partly due to
"Oh, I see. I thought at first you meant that it was on account
of something that happened the other day."
"What was that?"
"Andy, Sam and Pete got the contents of a bottle of stove
blacking," and Tom related the occurrence, at which Ned laughed
"I wouldn't be surprised though," added Ned, "to learn that Mr.
Foger started the new bank more for revenge than anything else."
"So that's the reason you've been working late, eh?" went on
Tom. "Getting ready for competition. Do you think a new bank will
hurt the one you're with?"
"Well, it might," admitted Ned. "It's bound to make a change,
anyhow, and now that I have a good position I don't want to lose
it. I take more of an interest in the institution now that I'm
assistant cashier, than I did when I was a clerk. So, naturally,
I'm a little worried."
"Say, don't let it worry you," begged Tom, earnestly.
"Why not?"
"Because I know my father and Mr. Damon will stick to the old
bank. They won't have anything to do with the one Andy Foger's
father starts. Don't you worry."
"Well, that will help some," declared Ned. "They are both heavy
depositors, and if they stick to the old bank we can stand it
even if some of our smaller customers desert us."
"That's the way to talk," went on the young inventor. "Let
Foger start his bank. It won't hurt yours."
"What are you making now?" asked Ned, a little later, looking
with interest at the machinery over which Tom was bending, and to
which he was making adjustments.
"New electric automobile. I want to beat Andy Foger's car worse
than I did on my motorcycle, and I also want to win a prize," and
the lad proceeded to relate the incidents leading up to his
construction of the storage battery.
Tom and Ned were in the shop until long past midnight, and then
the bank employee, with a look at his watch, exclaimed:
"Great Scott! I ought to be home."
"I'll run you over in Mr. Damon's car," proposed Tom. "He left
it here the other day, while he and his wife went off on a trip,
and he said I could use it whenever I wanted to."
"Good!" cried Ned.
The two lads came from Tom's particular workshop. As the young
inventor closed the door he started suddenly, as he snapped shut
the lock.
"What's the matter?" asked Ned quickly.
"I thought I heard a noise," replied Tom.
They both listened. There was a slight rustling in some bushes
near the shop.
"It's a dog or a cat," declared Ned.
Tom took several cautious steps forward. Then he gave a spring,
and made a grab for some one or something.
"Here! You let me be!" yelled a protesting voice.
"I will when I find out what you mean by sneaking around here,"
retorted Tom, as he came back toward Ned, dragging with him a
lad. "It wasn't a dog or a cat, Ned," spoke the young inventor.
"It's Sam Snedecker," and so it proved.
"You let me alone!" demanded Andy Foger's crony. "I ain't done
nothin' to you," he whined.
"Here, Ned, you hold him a minute, while I make an
investigation," called Tom, handing his prisoner over to his
chum. "Maybe Pete or Andy are around."
"No, they ain't. I came alone," said Sam quickly, but Tom, not
heeding, opened the shop, and, after turning on the electric
lights, procured a lantern. He began a search of the shrubbery
around the shop, while Ned held to the struggling Sam.
The moment Tom disappeared behind his machine shop, Sam
Snedecker began a desperate struggle to escape from Ned Newton.
Now Ned was a muscular lad, but his work in the bank was
confining, and he did not have the chance to get out doors and
exercise, as Sam had. Consequently Ned had his hands full in
holding to the squirming crony of Andy Foger.
"You let me go!" demanded Sam, as he tried to twist loose.
"Not if I know it!" panted Ned.
Sam gave a sudden twist. Ned's foot slipped in the grass, and
in a moment he went down, with Sam on top of him. Still he did
not let go, and, finding he was still a prisoner Sam adopted new
Using his fists Sam began to pound Ned, but the bank employee,
though suffering, would not call for help, to summon back Tom,
who was, by this time, at the rear of the shop, looking about.
Silently in the dark the two fought, and Ned found that Sam was
getting away. Then Ned's hand came in contact with Sam's ear. It
was the misfortune of the bully to have rather a large hearing
apparatus, and once Ned got his fingers on an ear there was room
enough to afford a good grip. He closed his hold tightly, and
began to twist. This was too much for Sam. He set up a lusty
"Wow! Ouch! Let go!" he pleaded, and he ceased to pound Ned,
and no longer tried to escape. Tom came back on the run.
"What's the matter?" he cried. Then his light flashed on the
two prostrate lads, and he understood without asking any further
"Get up!" he cried, seizing Sam by the back of his neck, and
yanking him to his feet. Ned arose, and secured a better grip on
the sneaking lad.
"What's up?" demanded Tom, and Ned explained, following it by
the question:
"See any more of 'em?"
"No, I guess he was here all alone," replied the young
inventor. "What do you mean by sneaking around here this time of
night?" he demanded of the captive.
"Don't you wish you knew?" was Sam's answer, with a leer. He
realized that he had a certain advantage.
"You'd better tell before I turn you over to the police!" said
Tom, sternly.
"You--you wouldn't do that; would you?" and Sam's voice that
had been bold, became shaky.
"You were trespassing on our property, and that's against the
law," declared Tom. "We have signs posted, warning people to keep
"I didn't mean any harm," whined Sam.
"Then what were you doing here, at this hour?"
"I was just taking a short cut home. I was out riding with Andy
in his auto, and it broke down. I had to walk home, and I came
this way. I didn't know you didn't allow people to cross your
back lot. I wasn't doin' anything."
Tom hesitated. Sam might be telling the truth, but it was
"What happened to Andy's auto?" the young inventor asked.
"He broke a wheel, going over a big stone on Berk's hill. He
went to tell some one in the repair shop to go after the car, and
I came on home. You've got no right to arrest me."
"I ought to, on general principles," commented Tom. "Well, skip
out, and don't you come around here again. I'm going to get a
savage bull dog, and the first one who comes sneaking around here
after dark will be sorry. Move along now!"
Tom and Ned released their holds of Sam, and the latter lost no
time in obeying the injunction to make himself scarce. He was
soon lost to sight in the darkness.
"Think he was up to some mischief?" asked Ned.
"I'm almost sure of it," replied Tom, "but I can't see anything
wrong. I guess we were too quick for him. I believe he, Andy and
Pete Bailey tried to put up some job on me."
"Maybe they wanted to damage your new battery or car,"
suggested Ned.
"Hardly that. The car hasn't been started yet, and as for the
battery, no one knows of it outside of you and my friends here.
I'm keeping it secret. Well, if I'm going to take you home I'd
better get a move on. Wait here and I'll run out Mr. Damon's
In a short time Tom was guiding the machine over the road to
Shopton, Ned on the seat beside him. The young assistant cashier
lived about a mile the other side of the village, and the two
chums were soon at his house. Asking his friend to come and see
him when he had a chance. Ned bid his chum good night, and the
young inventor started back home.
He was driving slowly along, thinking more of his new invention
than anything else, even more than of the mysterious visit of Sam
Snedecker, when the lights on Mr. Damon's car flashed upon
something big, black and bulky on the road just ahead of him.
Tom, brought suddenly out of his fit of musing, jammed on the
brakes, and steered to one side. Then he saw that the object was
a stalled auto. He had only time to note this when a voice hailed
"Have you a tire pump you could lend us? Ours doesn't work, and
we have had a blowout."
There was something about the voice that was strangely
familiar, and Tom was wondering where he had heard it before,
when into the glare of the lamps on his machine stepped Mr.
Foger--Andy's father!
"Why, Mr. Foger!" exclaimed Tom. "I didn't know it was you."
"Oh, it's Tom Swift," remarked the man, and he did not seem
especially pleased.
"Hey! What's that?" cried another voice, which Tom had no
difficulty in recognizing as belonging to Andy. "What's the
matter, Dad?"
"Why it happens to be your--ahem! It's Tom Swift in this other
auto," went on Mr. Foger. "I didn't know you had a car," he
"I haven't," answered the lad. "This belongs to Mr. Damon. But
can you see to fix your tire in the dark?" for Mr. Foger and his
son had no lamps lighted.
"Oh, we have it all fixed," declared the man, "and, just as we
were going to pump it up out lamps went out. Then we found that
our pump wouldn't work. If you have one I would be obliged for
the use of it," and he spoke somewhat stiffly.
"Certainly," agreed Tom, cheerfully, for he had no special
grudge against Mr. Foger, though had he known Andy's father's
plans, perhaps our hero would not have so readily aided him. The
young inventor got down, removed one of his oil lamps in order
that there might be some light on the operation, and then brought
over his pump.
"I heard you had an accident," said Tom, a chain of thoughts
being rapidly forged in his mind, as he thought of what Sam had
told him.
"You heard of it?" repeated Mr. Foger, while Andy was busy
pumping up the tire.
"Yes, a friend who was out riding with you said you had broken
a wheel on Berk's hill. But I see he was slightly wrong. You're a
good way from Berk's hill, and it's a tire that is broken, not a
"But I don't understand," said Mr. Foger. "No friend has been
out riding with us. My son and I were out on a business trip,
"Come on, pop. I've got it all pumped up. Jump in. There's your
pump, Tom Swift. Much obliged," muttered Andy hastily. It was
very evident that he wanted to prevent any further conversation
between his parent and Tom.
"But I don't understand," went on the banker, clearly puzzled.
"What friend gave you such information, Mr.--er--Tom Swift?"
"Sam Snedecker," replied the lad quickly. "I caught him
sneaking around my machine shop about an hour ago, and when I
asked him what he was doing he said he'd been out riding with
Andy, and that they broke a wheel. I'm glad it was only a blownout
tire," and Tom's voice had a curious note in it.
"But there must be some mistake," insisted Mr. Foger. "Sam
Snedecker was not riding with us this evening. We have been over
to Waterfield--my son and I, and--"
"Come on, pop!" cried Andy desperately. "We must hurry home.
Mom will be worried."
"Yes, I think she will. But I can't understand why Sam should
say such a thing. However, we are much obliged for the use of
your pump, Swift, and--"
But Andy prevented any further talk by starting the car with
the muffler open, making a great racket, and he hurriedly drove
off, almost before his father was seated, leaving Tom standing
there in the road, beside his pump and lantern.
"So," mused the young inventor, "there's some game on. Sam
wasn't with Andy, yet Andy evidently knew where Sam was, or he
wouldn't have been so anxious to choke off talk. Mr. Foger knew
nothing of Sam, naturally. But why have Andy and his father been
on a midnight trip to Waterfield?"
That last question caused Tom to adopt a new line of thought.
"Waterfield," he mused. "That's where Mr. Damon lives. Mr.
Damon is a heavy depositor in the old bank. Mr. Foger is going to
start a new bank. I wonder if there's any connection there? This
is getting mysterious. I must keep my eyes open. I never expected
to meet Andy and his father tonight, any more than I expected to
find Sam Snedecker sneaking around my shop, but it's a good thing
I discovered both parties. I guess Andy must have had nervous
prostration when I was talking to his father," and Tom grinned at
the thought. Then, picking up the pump, and fastening the lantern
in place, he drove Mr. Damon's auto slowly back home.
Tom said nothing to his father or Mr. Sharp, the next morning,
about the incidents of the previous night. In the first place he
could not exactly understand them, and he wanted to devote more
time to thinking of them, before he mentioned the matter to his
parent. Another reason was that Mr. Swift was a very nervous
person, and the least thing out of the ordinary worried him. So
the young inventor concluded to keep quiet.
His first act, after going to look at the small motor, which
was being run with the larger, experimental storage battery, was
to get out pencil and paper.
"I've got to plan the electric auto now that my battery is in a
fair way to success," he said, for he noted that the one cell he
had constructed had done over twice as much mileage in
proportion, as had the small battery. "I'll soon start building
the car," mused Tom, "and then I'll enter it in the race. I must
write to that touring club and find how much time I have."
All that morning the young inventor drew plan after plan for an
electric runabout, and rejected them. Finally he threw aside
paper and pencil and exclaimed:
"It's no use. I can't think to-day. I'm dwelling too much on
what happened last night. I must clear my brain.
"I know what I'll do. I'll get in my motor-boat and take a run
over to Waterfield to see Mr. Damon. Maybe he's home by this
time. Then I can ask him what Mr. Foger wanted to see him about,
if he did call."
It was a fine May morning, and Tom was soon in his boat, the
Arrow, gliding over Lake Carlopa, the waters of which sparkled in
the sun. As he speeded up his craft, the lad looked about,
thinking he might catch sight of Andy Foger, for the bully also
owned a boat, called the Red Streak and, more than once, in spite
of the fact that Andy's craft was the more powerful, Tom had
beaten him in impromptu races. But there was no sign of his rival
this morning, and Tom kept on to Waterfield. He found that Mr.
Damon had not yet returned home.
"So far I've had my run for nothing," mused the youth. "Well, I
might as well spend the rest of the morning in the boat."
He swung his craft out into the lake, and headed back toward
Mansburg, intending to run up to the head of the body of water,
which offered so many attractions that beautiful morning.
As Tom passed a small dock he saw a girl just putting out in a
rowboat. The figure looked familiar and, having nothing special
to do, the lad steered over closer. His first view was confirmed,
and he called out cheerfully:
"Good morning, Miss Nestor. Going for a row?"
"Oh! Mr. Swift!" exclaimed the girl with a blush. "I didn't
hear you coming. You startled me."
"Yes, the engine runs quite silently since I fixed it," resumed
Tom. "But where are you going?"
"I was going for a row," answered the girl, "but I have just
discovered that one of the oar locks is broken, so I am not going
for a row," and she laughed, showing her white, even teeth.
"That's too bad!" remarked the lad. "I don't suppose," he added
doubtfully, "that I could induce you to accept a motor-boat as a
substitute for a rowing craft, could I?" and he looked
quizzically at her.
"Are you asking me that as a hypothetical question?" she
"Yes," said Tom, trying not to smile.
"Well, if you are asking for information, merely, I will say
that I could he induced to make such a change," and her face was
nearly as grave as that of the young inventor's.
"What inducement would have to be used?" he asked.
"Suppose you just ask me in plain English to come and have a
ride?" she suggested.
"All right, I will!" exclaimed the youth.
"All right, then I'll come!" she retorted with a laugh, and a
few minutes later the two were in the Arrow, making a pretty
picture as they speeded up the lake.
"Well," remarked Tom to himself, about two hours later, when he
had left Mary Nestor at her dock, and was on his way home, "I
feel better than I did, and now I must do some hard thinking
about my runabout. I want to get it the right shape to make the
least resistance." He began to make some sketches when he got
home, and at dinner he showed them to his father and Mr. Sharp.
He said he had gotten an idea from looking at the airship.
"I'm going to make the front part, or what corresponds to the
engine-hood in a gasolene car, pointed," he explained. "It will
be just like the front of the aluminum gas container of the
airship, only built of steel. In it will be a compartment for a
set of batteries, and there will be a searchlight there. From the
top of some supporters in front of the two rear seats, a slanting
sheet of steel will come right down to meet the sloping nose of
the car. First I was going to have curtains close over the top of
the driver's seat, but I think a steel covering, with a celluloid
opening will be better and make less wind resistance. I'll use
leather side curtains when it rains. Under the front seats will
be a compartment for more batteries, and there will be a third
place under the rear seats, where I will also carry spare wheels
and a repair kit. The motors will be slung under the body of the
car, amidships, and there will also be room for some batteries
"How are you going to drive the car?" asked Mr. Sharp. "By a
"Chain drive," explained Tom. "I can get more power that way,
and it will be more flexible under heavy loads. Of course it will
be steered in the usual way, and near the wheel will be the
starting and reversing levers, and the gear handle."
"Gears!" exclaimed the aged inventor. "Are you going to gear an
electric auto? I never heard of that. Usually the motor directly
connected is all they use."
"I'm going to have two gears on mine," decided Tom.
"That's a new idea," commented the aeronaut.
"It is," admitted the lad, "and that's why my car is going to
be so speedy. I'll make her go a hundred miles an hour, if
"Nonsense!" exclaimed his father.
"I will!" cried the young inventor, enthusiastically. "You just
wait and see. I couldn't do it but for the gears, but by using
them I'll secure more speed, especially with the big reserve
battery power I'll have. I know I've got the right idea, and I'm
going to get right to work."
His father and Mr. Sharp were much interested, and closely
examined his sketches. In a few days Tom had made detailed
drawings, and the aged inventor looked at them critically. He had
to admit that his son's theory was right, though how it would
work out in practice was yet to be demonstrated. Mr. Swift
offered some suggestions for minor changes, as did Mr. Sharp, and
the lad adopted some of them. Then, with Mr. Jackson to help him,
work was started on constructing the car.
Certain parts of it could be better purchased in the open
market instead of being manufactured in Mr. Swift's shop, and
thus Tom was able to get his new invention into some sort of
shape sooner than would otherwise have been the case. He also
started making the batteries, many of which would be needed.
Gradually the car began to take form on the floor of Tom's
shop. It was rather a curious looking affair, the sharp forward
part making it appear like some engine of war, or a projectile
for some monster gun. But Tom cared little for looks. Speed,
strength and ease of control were the chief features the lad
aimed at, and he incorporated many new ideas into his electric
He was busy in the shop, one morning, when, above the noise
caused by filing a piece of steel he heard some one exclaim:
"Bless my gizzard! If you aren't as busy as ever!"
"Mr. Damon!" cried Tom in delight. "When did you get back?"
"Last night," replied the eccentric man. "My wife and I stayed
longer than we meant to. And whom do you think we met when we
were off on our little trip?"
"Some of the Happy Harry gang?"
"Oh no. You'd never guess, so I'll tell you. It was Captain
"Indeed! And how has he been since he went in the submarine
with us, and helped recover the gold from the wreck?"
"Very well. The first thing he said to me was: 'How is Tom
Swift and his father, if I may be permitted to ask?'"
"Ha! Ha!" laughed the lad, at the recollection of the odd sea
captain, who generally tagged on an apologetic expression to most
of his remarks.
"He was getting ready to take part in some South American
revolution," went on Mr. Damon. "He used most of his money that
he got from the wreck to help finance their cause."
"I must tell Mr. Sharp," went on the lad. "He'll be
"Anything new since I've been away?" asked the odd man. "Bless
my shoe laces, but I'm glad to get back!"
Tom told of the prospect of a new bank being started, and of
Sam's midnight visit, as well as the encounter with Mr. Foger and
"I went over to see what Mr. Foger wanted of you," went on the
young inventor, "but you weren't home. Did he call?"
"The servant said he had been there, not once, but several
times," remarked Mr. Damon. "That reminds me. He left a note for
me, and I haven't read it yet. I'll do so now."
He tore open the letter, and hastily perused the contents.
"Ha!" he exclaimed. "So that's what he wanted to see me about!"
"What?" inquired Tom, with the privilege of and old friend.
"Mr. Foger says he's going to start a new bank, and he wants me
to withdraw my deposit from the old one, and put it in his
institution. Says he'll pay me bigger interest. And he adds that
some of the old employees have gone with him."
"I hope you're not going to change," spoke Tom, thinking of his
chum, Ned.
"Indeed I'm not. The old bank is good enough for me. By the
way, doesn't a friend of yours work there?"
"Yes, Ned Newton. I'm wondering how he'll be affected?"
"Don't you worry!" exclaimed Mr. Damon. "Bless my check book!
I'll speak to Pendergast about your friend. Maybe there'll be a
chance to advance him further. I've got some mortgages falling
due pretty soon, and I'll deposit the money from them in the old
bank. Then we'll see what we can do about Ned."
"They'll make you a bank director, if you keep on putting in
money," remarked our hero, with a smile.
"Not much they won't!" was the quick answer
"Bless my stocks and bonds! I've got trouble enough without
becoming a bank director.
My doctor says my liver is out of order again, and I've got to
eat a lemon every morning before breakfast."
"Eat a lemon?"
"Well, drink the juice! It's the same thing. But how is the
electric runabout coming on?"
"Pretty good."
"Have you entered it in the races yet?"
"No, but I've written for information. I have until September
to finish it. The races take place then."
"Let's see; they're on Long Island; aren't they? How do you
calculate to do; run from here to there?"
"No, Dad still has the cottage he rented when we built the
submarine and I think I'll make that my headquarters during the
race. It's easy to run from there over to the Long Island track.
They're building a new one, especially for the occasion.
"Well, I hope you win the prize. I must go to town now, as I
have to attend to some business. I don't s'pose you want to come
in my auto. I'm pretty sure something will break before I get
there, and I'd like to have you along to fix it."
"Sorry, but I'm afraid I can't go," replied the lad. "I must
get this car done, and then I've got to start on the batteries."
Mr. Damon rather reluctantly went off alone, looking anxiously
at his car, for the machine got out of order on every trip he
It was a few days after this that Tom received a call from Ned
one evening. The bank employee's face wore a happy smile.
"What's the matter; some one left you a fortune?" asked Tom.
"Pretty nearly as good. I've got a better position."
"What? Have you left the old bank, and gone to the new one?"
"No, I'm still in the same bank, but I'm one of the two
cashiers now. Mr. Foger took several of the old employees when he
opened his new bank, and that left vacancies. I was promoted, and
so were one or two others. Mr. Damon spoke a good word for me."
"That's fine! He's a friend worth having."
"That's right. Your father also recommended me. But how are
things with you? Has Andy made any more trouble?"
"No, and I don't believe he will. I guess he'll steer clear of
But Tom was soon to learn he was mistaken.
Meanwhile the young inventor, aided by his father, Mr. Sharp
and Garret Jackson, the engineer, worked hard over his new car,
and the powerful batteries. A month passed, and such was the
progress made that Tom felt justified in making formal entry of
his vehicle for the races to be held by the Touring Club of
He paid a contingent fee and was listed as one of the
competitors. As is usual in an affair of this kind, the promoters
of it desired publicity, and they sought it through the papers.
Consequently each new entrant's name was published. In addition
something was said about his previous achievements in the speed
No sooner was the name of Tom Swift received by the officials
of the club, than it was at once recalled that young Swift had
had a prominent part in the airship Red Cloud, and the submarine
Advance. This gave an enterprising reporter a chance for a
"special" for the Sunday supplement of a New York newspaper.
Tom, it was stated, was building a car which would practically
annihilate distance and time, and there were many weird pictures,
showing him flying along without touching the ground, in a car,
the pictorial construction of which was at once fearful and
Tom and his friends laughed at the yarn, at first, but it soon
had undesirable results. The young inventor had desired to keep
secret the fact that he was building a new electric vehicle, and
a novel storage battery, but the article in the paper aroused
considerable interest. Many persons came a long distance, hoping
for a sight of the wonderful car, as pictured in the Sunday
supplement, but they had to be denied. The news, thus leaking
out, kept the Swift shops almost constantly besieged by many
curious ones, who sought, by various means, to gain admission.
Finally Tom and his father, after posting large signs, warning
persons to keep away, added others to the effect that undesirable
visitors might find themselves unexpectedly shocked by
electricity, if they ventured too close. This had the desired
effect, though the wires which were strung about carried such a
mild charge that it would not have harmed a child. Then the only
bothersome characters were the boys of the town, and, fearless
and careless lads, they persisted in hanging around the Swift
homestead, in the hope of seeing Tom dash away at the rate of
five hundred miles an hour, which one enthusiastic writer
predicted he would do.
"I've got a plan!" exclaimed Tom one day when the boys had been
particularly troublesome.
"What is it?" asked his father.
"We'll hire Eradicate Sampson to stand guard with a bucket of
whitewash. He'll keep the boys away."
The plan was put into operation, and Eradicate and his mule,
Boomerang, were installed on the premises.
"Deed an' Ah'll keep dem lads away," promised the colored man.
"Ah'll splash white stuff all ober 'em, if dey comes traipsin'
around me."
He was as good as his word, and, when one or two lads had
received a dose of the stuff, which punishment was followed by
more severe from home, for having gotten their clothes soiled,
the nuisance ceased, to a certain extent. Sam Snedecker and Pete
Bailey were two who received a liberal sprinkling of the lime,
and they vowed vengeance on Tom.
"And Andy Foger will help us, too," added Sam, as he withdrew,
after an encounter with Eradicate.
"Doan't let dat worry yo', Mistah Swift!" exclaimed the darkey.
"Jest let dat low-down-good-fo-nuffin' Andy Foger come 'round me,
an' Ah'll make him t'ink he's de inside ob a chicken coop, dat's
what Ah will."
Perhaps Andy heard of this, and kept away. In the meanwhile Tom
kept on perfecting his car and battery. From the club secretary
he learned that a number of inventors were working on electric
cars, and there promised to be many of the speedy vehicles in the
After considerable labor Tom had succeeded in getting together
one set of the batteries. He had them completed one afternoon,
and wanted to give them a test that night. But, when he went to
his father's chemical laboratory for a certain powder, which he
needed to use in the battery solution, he found there was none.
"I'll have to ride in to Mansburg for some," he decided. "I'll
go after supper, on my motorcycle, and test the battery tonight."
The young inventor left his house immediately after the evening
meal. Along the road toward Mansburg he speeded, and, as he came
to the foot of a hill, where once Andy Foger had put a big tree,
hoping Tom would run into it and be injured, the youth recalled
that circumstance.
"Andy has been keeping out of my way lately," mused Tom. "I
wonder if he's up to any mischief? I don't like the way Sam
Snedecker is hanging around the shop, either. It looks as if they
were plotting something. But I guess Eradicate and his pail of
whitewash will scare them off."
Tom got the powdered chemical he wanted in the drug store, and,
after refreshing himself with some ice cream soda, he started
back. As he rode along through the streets of the town he kept a
lookout, and those of you who know how fond the lad was of a
certain young lady, do not need to be told for whom he was
looking. But he did not see her, and soon turned into the main
highway leading to Shopton.
It was dark when he reached the hill, where once he had been so
near an accident, and he slowed up as he coasted down it, using
the brake at intervals.
Tom got safely to the bottom of the declivity, and was about to
turn on the power of his machine, when, from the bushes that
lined either side of the roadway, several figures sprang
suddenly. They ranged themselves across the road, and one cried:
"Halt!" in tones that were meant to be stern, but which seemed to
Tom, to tremble somewhat. The young inventor was so surprised
that he did not open the gasolene throttle, nor switch on his
spark. As a consequence his motor-cycle lost momentum, and he had
to take one foot from the pedal and touch the ground, to prevent
himself from toppling over.
"Hold on there!" cried another voice. "We've got you where we
want you, now! Hold on! Don't go!"
"I wasn't going to go," responded Tom calmly, trying to
recognize the voice, which seemed to be unnatural. "What do you
want, and who are you?"
"Never mind who we are. We want you and we've got you! Get off
that wheel!"
"I don't see why I should!" exclaimed Tom, and he suddenly
shifted his handle bars, so as to flash the bright headlight he
carried, upon the circle of dark figures that opposed his
progress. As the light flashed on them he was surprised to see
that all the figures wore masks over their faces.
Tom started. Was this the Happy Harry gang after him again? He
hoped not, yet the fact that the persons had on masks made the
hold-up have an ugly look. Once more Tom flashed the light on the
throng. There were exclamations of dismay.
"Douse that glim, somebody!" called a sharp voice, which Tom
could not recognize.
A stone came whizzing through the air, from some one in the
crowd. There was a smashing of glass as it hit the lantern, and
the road was plunged in darkness. Tom tried to throw one leg over
the saddle, and let down the supporting stand from the rear
wheel, so the motorcycle would remain upright without him holding
it. He determined to have revenge for that act of vandalism in
breaking his lamp.
But, just as he was free of the seat, he was surrounded by a
dozen persons, and several hands were laid on him.
"We've got you now!" some one fairly hissed in his ear. "Come
along, and get what's coming to you!"
Tom tried to fight, but he was overpowered by numbers and, a
little later, was dragged off into the woods in the darkness by
the masked figures. His arms were securely bound with ropes, and
a handkerchief was tied over his eyes. Tom Swift was a prisoner.
Stumbling on through the dark woods, led by his captors, Tom
tried to pierce the gloom and identify the persons who had firm
grips on either side of him. But it was useless. A little light
sifted down from the starlit sky above, but it was not
sufficient. The young inventor was beginning to think, after all,
that he had fallen into the hands of the Happy Harry gang, and he
knew that if this was so he need expect no mercy.
But two things were against this belief. One was that the
principal members of the gang were still in jail, or at least
they were supposed to be, and another was that there were too
many of the captors. Happy Harry's crowd never numbered so many.
"Maybe they're highwaymen," thought our hero, as he was dragged
along "But that can't be," he reasoned further. "If they wanted
to rob me they'd have done it back there in the road, and not
brought me off here in the woods. Besides, I haven't anything for
them to steal."
Suddenly Tom stumbled over a projecting root, and nearly fell,
dragging along with him the person who had hold of his left arm.
"Look out there! What's the matter with you?" exclaimed one of
the throng quickly, and at the sound of the voice Tom started.
"Andy Foger!" cried the young inventor, as he recovered
himself, for he had recognized the voice of the red-haired bully.
"What do you mean by holding me up in this way?" he demanded.
"Quiet!" urged a voice in his ear, and the tones were
unfamiliar. "Mention no names!"
"I'm on to your game!" retorted Tom. "I know you're here, Andy,
and Sam and Pete; and Jack Reynolds and Sid Holton," and he named
two rather loose-charactered lads, who were often in the company
of Andy and his cronies. "You'd better quit this nonsense," Tom
went on. "I'll cause the arrest of all of you if you make trouble
for me. I know who you are now!"
"You think you do," answered the voice in his ear, and the
young inventor concluded that it must be some lad whom he did not
know. "Nor is this nonsense," the other went on. "You are about
to receive the punishment due you."
Our hero did not answer, but he was doing some hard thinking.
He wondered why Andy and his crowd had captured him.
Suddenly the blackness of the woods was illuminated by the
fitful gleam of a distant fire. Tom could see more plainly now,
and he managed to count about ten dusky figures hurrying along,
four being close to him, to prevent his escape, and the others
running on ahead. The light became stronger, and, a moment later
the prisoner and his captors emerged into a little clearing,
where a fire was burning. Two figures, masked with black cloth,
as were all in the crowd, stood about the blaze, putting on
sticks of wood.
"Did you get him?" asked one of these figures eagerly.
"Yes, they got me, Sam Snedecker," answered Tom quickly,
recognizing Sam's tones. "And they'll wish they hadn't before I'm
done with them."
"Quiet!" ordered an unknown voice. "Members of the Deep Forest
Throng, the prisoner is here!" the lad went on.
"'Tis well, bind the captive to the sacrificial tree," was the
response from some one in the crowd.
Tom laughed. He was at ease now, for he recognized that those
who had taken him prisoner were all lads of Andy's character.
Most of them were Shopton youths, but some, evidently, were
strangers in town. Tom felt he had little to fear.
"Bring him over here," ordered one, and Tom cried out:
"You wouldn't be giving those orders, Andy Foger, if my arms
weren't tied. And if you'll untie me, I'll fight any two of you
at once," offered the young inventor fiercely, for he hated the
humiliation to which he was being subjected.
"Don't do it! Don't untie him!" begged some one.
"No danger, they won't. They're afraid to, Pete Bailey,"
replied Tom quickly, for he had recognized the voice of the other
one of Andy's particular cronies.
"Aw, he knows who we are," whispered Sam, but not so low but
that our hero heard him.
"No matter," was Andy's retort. "Let's go ahead with it. Tie
him to that tree."
It was useless for Tom to struggle. He was bound too tightly by
the rope, and the crowd was too many for him. In a few minutes he
was securely fastened to a tree, not far from the camp-fire,
which was replenished from time to time.
"Now for the judgment!" called one of the masked lads, in what
he meant to be a sepulchral tone. "What is the charge against the
prisoner? Brother Number One of the Deep Forest Throng, what is
your accusation?"
"He's a regular snob, that's what's the trouble," answered
Andy Foger, though whether he was "Brother Number One," did not
appear. "He's too fresh and--and--"
"I'll make you wish you felt fresh when I get hold of you,
Andy," murmured Tom.
"Quiet!" cried a tall lad. "What's the next charge?"
"He keeps an old colored man on guard at his place," was the
answer, and Tom had no difficulty in recognizing the voice of Sid
Holton. "The coon throws whitewash all over us. I got some of
"You wouldn't have, if you'd minded your own business,"
retorted Tom. "It served you right!"
"What is the verdict on the prisoner?" asked one who seemed to
be the leader.
"I say let's tar and feather him!" cried Andy suddenly.
"There's a barrel of tar back in the woods here, and we can get
some feathers from a chicken coop. That would make him so he
wouldn't be so uppish, I guess!"
"That's right! Tar and feathers!" exclaimed several.
Our hero's heart sank. He was not afraid, but he did not relish
the indignity that was proposed. He resolved to fight to the last
ounce of his strength against the masked lads.
"Can we get a kettle to heat the tar in?" asked some one.
"We'll find one," answered Sam Snedecker. "Come on, let's do
it. You'll look pretty, Tom Swift, when we're through with you,"
he exulted.
Tom did not answer, but there was fierce anger in his heart.
The tar and feather proposal seemed to meet with general favor.
"Members of the Deep Forest Throng, we will hold a
consultation," proposed the leader, in his assumed deep voice.
"Come over here, to one side. Brother Number Six, guard the
prisoner well."
"There ain't no need to," answered a lad who had been
instructed to mount guard over Tom. "He's tied so tight he can't
move. I want to hear what you say."
"Very well then," assented the leader, "But look to his
The lad made a hasty examination of the ropes binding the young
inventor to the tree, and Tom was glad that the examination was a
hasty one. For he feared the guard might discover that one hand
had been worked nearly free. The young inventor had done this
while he leered at his captors.
Tom was not going to submit tamely to the nonsense, and from
the moment he had been tied, he had been trying to get loose. He
had nearly succeeded in freeing one hand when the crowd of masked
boys moved off to one side, where they presently began to talk in
excited whispers.
"I wonder how they came to catch me," thought the prisoner, as
he worked feverishly to further loosen the ropes. "This looks as
if it was a put-up job, with the masks, and everything." Later
he learned that the idea was the outcome of a proposal of one of
the new arrivals in town. He had organized the "Deep Forest
Throng," as a sort of secret society, and Andy and his cronies
had been induced to join. It was Andy's proposal to capture Tom,
though, and, having seen him depart for Mansburg on his motorcycle,
and knowing that he would return along a road that ran
near the woods where the Throng met, suggested that they take Tom
captive. The idea was enthusiastically received, and Andy and his
cronies thought they saw a chance to be revenged.
Tom, while he picked at the ropes, listened to what the boys
were saying. He heard frequent mention of tar and feathers, and
began to believe, that unless he could get free, while they were
off there consulting, he might be forced to submit to the
humiliating ordeal.
He managed to get one hand comparatively free, so that he could
move it about, but then he struck several hard knots, and could
make no further progress. The conference seemed on the point of
breaking up.
"One of you go for a big kettle to boil the tar in," ordered
the leader, "and the rest of you dig up some feathers."
"I must get loose!" thought Tom desperately. "If they try to
tar and feather me it will be a risky business. I've got to get
loose! They may burn me severely!"
But, though he tried with all his strength, the ropes would not
loosen another bit. He had one hand free, and that was all. The
crowd was moving back toward him.
"My knife!" thought the captive quickly. "If I can reach that
in my pocket I can cut the ropes! Once I get loose I'll fight the
whole crowd!"
He managed to get his free hand into his pocket. His fingers
touched something. It was not his knife, and, for a moment he
felt a pang of disappointment. Then, as he realized what it was
that he had grasped, a new idea came to him.
"This will be better than the knife!" he thought exultantly.
The crowd of lads was now surrounding him, some distance from the
fire, which burned in front of the captive.
"Sentence has been passed upon you," remarked the leader.
"Prepare to meet thy doom! Get the materials, brothers!"
"One moment!" called Tom, for he wanted the crowd all present
to witness what he was about to do. "I'll give you one chance to
let me go peaceably. If you don't--"
"Well, what will you do?" demanded Andy sneeringly, as he
pulled his mask further over his face. "I guess you won't do
anything, Tom Swift."
"I'll give you one chance to let me go, and I'll agree to say
nothing about this joke," went on Tom. "If you don't I'll blow
this place up!"
For a moment there was a silence.
"Ha! Ha! Ho! Ho!" laughed Sam Snedecker. "Listen to him! He'll
blow the place up! I'd like to see you do it! You can't get loose
in the first place, and you haven't anything to blow it up with
in the second. I'd like to see you do it; hey, fellers?"
"Sure," came the answering chorus.
"Would you?" asked Tom quickly. "Then watch. Stand back if you
don't want to get hurt, and remember that I gave you a chance to
let me go!"
Tom made a rapid motion with the hand he had gotten loose. He
threw something to ward the blazing fire, which was now burning
well. Something white sailed through the air, and fell amid the
hot embers.
There was a moment's pause, and then a blinding flash of blue
fire lighted up the woods, and a dull rumble, as when gun-powder
is lighted in the open followed. A great cloud of white smoke
arose, as the vivid blue glare died away, and it seemed as if a
great wind swept over the place. Several of the masked lads were
knocked down by the explosion, and when the rumble died away, and
deep blackness succeeded the intense blue light, there came cries
of pain and terror. The fire had been scattered, and extinguished
by the explosion which Tom, though still bound to the tree had
caused to happen in the midst of the Deep Forest Throng. Then, as
the smoke rolled away, Andy Foger cried:
"Come on, fellows! Something's happened. I guess a volcano blew
The Deep Forest Throng needed no urging to flee from the place
of the mysterious explosion. Their prisoner, helpless as he had
seemed, had proved too much for them. Slipping and stumbling
along in the darkness, the masked lads had but one thought--to
get away before they saw more of that blue fire, and the force of
the concussion.
"Gee! My eyebrows are all singed off!" cried Sam Snedecker, as
he tore loose his mask which had been rent in the explosion, and
felt of his face.
"And my hands are burned," added Pete Bailey. "I stood closer
to the fire than any of you."
"You did not! I got the worst of it!" cried Andy. "I was
knocked down by the explosion, and I'll bet I'm hurt somewhere. I
guess--Oh! Help! I'm falling in a mud hole!"
There was a splash, and the bully disappeared from the sight of
his companions who, now that the moon had risen, could better see
to flee from their prisoner.
"Help me out, somebody!" pleaded Andy. "I'm in a mud hole!"
They pulled him out, a sorry looking sight, and the red-haired
lad, whose locks were now black with muck, began to lament his
"Dry up!" commanded Sid Holton. "It's all your fault, for
proposing such a fool trick as capturing Tom Swift. We might have
known he would get the best of us."
"What was that stuff he used, anyhow?" asked Cecil Hedden, the
lad responsible for the organization of the Deep Forest Throng.
"He must be a wonder. Does he do sleight-of-hand tricks?"
"He does all sorts of tricks," replied Pete Bailey, feeling of
a big lump on his head, caused by falling on a stone in the mad
rush. "I guess we were chumps to tackle him. He must have put
some kind of chemical in the fire, to make it blow up."
"Or else he summoned his airship by wireless, and had that
balloonist, Mr. Sharp, drop a bomb in the blaze," suggested
another lad.
"But how could he do anything? Wasn't he tied fast to that
tree?" asked Cecil, the leader.
"You never know when you've got Tom Swift tied," declared Jack
Reynolds. "You think you've got him, and you haven't. He's too
slick for us. It's Andy's fault, for proposing to capture him."
"That's right! Blame it all on me," whined the squint-eyed
bully. "You was just as anxious as I was to tar and feather him."
"Well, we didn't do it," commented Pete Bailey, dryly. "I
s'pose he's loose now, laughin' at us. Gee, but that was an
explosion though! It's a wonder some of us weren't killed! I
guess I've had enough of this Deep Forest Throng business. No
more for mine."
"Aw, don't be afraid," urged Cecil. "The next time we get him
we'll be on our guard."
"You'll never catch Tom Swift again," predicted Pete.
"I'll go back now to where he is, if you will," agreed Cecil,
who was older than the others.
"Not much!" cried Pete. "I've had enough."
This seemed to be the sentiment of all. Away they stumbled
through the woods, and, emerging on the road, scattered to their
several homes, not one but who suffered from slight burns,
contusions, torn and muddy clothes or injured feelings as the
outcome of the "joke" on the young inventor.
But our hero was not yet free from the bonds of his enemies.
When they scattered and ran, after the vivid blue light, and the
dull explosion, which, being unconfined, did no real damage, Tom
was still fast to the tree. As his eyes became accustomed to the
semi-darkness that followed the glare, he remarked:
"Well, I don't know that I'm much better off. I gave those
fellows a good scare, but I'm not loose. But I can work to better
advantage now."
Once more he resumed the effort to free himself, but in spite
of the crude manner in which the knots had been made, the lad
could not get loose. The more he pulled and tugged the tighter
they seemed to become.
"This is getting serious," Tom mused. "If I could only reach my
knife I could cut them, but it's in my pocket on the other side,
and that bond's fast. Guess I'll have to stay here all night.
Maybe I'd better call for help, but--"
His words, spoken half aloud, were suddenly interrupted by a
crash in the underbrush. Somebody was approaching. At first Tom
thought it was Andy and his cronies coming back, but a voice that
called a moment later proved that this was not so.
"Is any one here?" shouted a man. "Any one hurt? What was that
fire and explosion?"
"I'm here," replied Tom. "I'm not hurt exactly, but I'm tied to
a tree. I'll be much obliged if you'll loosen me."
"Who are you?"
"Tom Swift. Is that you, Mr. Mason?"
"Yes. By jinks! I never expected to find you here, Tom. Over
this way, men," he added calling aloud. "I've found him; it's Tom
There was the flicker of several lanterns amid the trees, and
soon a number of men had joined Mr. Mason, and surrounded Tom.
They were farmers living in the neighborhood.
"What in the name o' Tunket happened?" asked one. "Did you get
hit by a meteor or a comet? Who tied you up; highwaymen?"
"Cut him loose first, and ask questions afterward," suggested
Mr. Mason.
"Yes," added Tom, with a laugh, "I wish you would. I'm
beginning to feel cramped."
With their knives, the farmers quickly cut the ropes, and some
of them rubbed the arms of the lad to restore the circulation.
"What was it--highwaymen?" asked a man, unable to longer
restrain his curiosity. "Did they rob you?"
"No, it wasn't highwaymen," replied the youth. "It was a trick
of some boys I know," and to Tom's credit be it said that he did
not mention their names. "They did it for a joke," he added.
"Boys' trick? Joke?" queried Mr. Mason. "Pretty queer sort of a
joke, I think. They ought to be arrested."
"Oh, I fancy I gave them what was coming to them," went on the
young inventor.
"Did they try to blow ye up, too?" asked Mr. Hertford. "What in
th' name of Tunket was that blue light, and that explosion? I
heard it an' saw it way over to my house."
"So did I," remarked Mr. Mason, and several others said the
same thing. "We thought a meteor had fallen," he continued, "and
we got together to make an investigation."
"It's a good thing for me you did," admitted Tom, "or I might
have had to stay here all night."
"But was it a meteor?" insisted Mr. Hertford.
"No," replied the lad, "I did it."
"Yes. You see after they tied me I found I could get one hand
free. I reached in my pocket for my knife, but instead of it I
managed to get hold of a package of powder I had."
"Gunpowder?" asked Mr. Mason.
"No, a chemical powder I use in an electrical battery. The
powder explodes in fire, and makes quite a blue flash, and a lot
of smoke, but it isn't very dangerous, otherwise I wouldn't have
used it. When the boys were some distance away from the fire, I
threw the powder in the blaze. It went off in a moment, and--"
"I guess they run some; didn't they?" asked Mr. Mason with a
"They certainly did," agreed Tom.
The young inventor told more details of his adventure in the
woods, but, though the farmers questioned him closely, he would
not give a single name of his assailants.
"But I should think you'd want to have them punished," remarked
Mr. Mason.
"I'll attend to that part later," answered Tom. "Besides, most
of them didn't know what they were doing. They were led on by one
or two. No, I'll fight my own battles. But I wish you'd lend me a
lantern long enough to find my motor-cycle. The moon doesn't give
much light in the woods, and those fellows may have hidden my
Mr. Mason and his companions readily agreed to accompany Tom on
a search for his wheel. It was found just where he had dismounted
from it in the road. Andy and his cronies had evidently had
enough of their encounter with our hero, and did not dare to
annoy him further.
"Do you think you can ride home?" asked one of the farmers of
the lad, when he had ascertained that his machine was in running
"Well, it's risky without my lantern," answered Tom. "They
smashed that for me. But I guess I can manage."
"No, you can't!" insisted Mr. Mason. "You're stiff from being
tied up; and you can't ride. Now you just wheel that contraption
over to my place, and I'll hitch up and take you home. It isn't
"Oh, I couldn't think of troubling you," declared Tom. At the
same time he felt that he was in no condition to ride.
"It's no trouble at all," insisted Mr. Mason. "I guess your
father and I are good enough friends to allow me to have my way.
You can come over and get your choo-choo bicycle in the morning."
A little later Tom was being rapidly driven toward his home,
where he found his father and Mrs. Baggert, to say nothing of Mr.
Sharp, somewhat alarmed over his absence, as it was getting late.
The youth told as much of his adventure as he thought would not
alarm his father, making a sort of joke of it, and, later,
related all the details to the balloonist.
"We'll have to get after Andy again," declared the aeronaut.
"He needs another toning down."
"Yes, similar to the one he got when we nearly ran away with
his automobile, by catching the airship anchor on it," added Tom
with a laugh. "But I fancy Andy will steer clear of me for a
while. I'm sorry I had to use up that chemical powder, though.
Now I can't start my battery until to-morrow." But the next day
Tom made up for lost time, by working from early until late. He
went over to Mr. Mason's, got his motor-cycle, procured some more
of the chemical, and soon had his storage battery in running
order. Then he arranged for a more severe test, and while that
was going on he worked at completing the body of the electric
runabout. The vehicle was beginning to look like a car, though it
was not of the regulation pattern.
For the next week Tom was very busy, so occupied, in fact, that
he scarcely took time for his meals, which caused Mrs. Baggert no
little worriment, for she was a housekeeper who liked to see
others enjoy her cooking.
"Well, Tom, how are you coming on?" asked his father one night,
as they sat on the porch, Mr. Sharp with them.
"Pretty well, Dad," was the answer of the young inventor. "I'll
put the wheels on tomorrow, and then set the batteries. I've got
the motor all finished; and all I'll have to do will be to
connect it up, and then I'll be ready for a trial on the road."
"And you still think you'll beat all records?"
"I'm pretty sure of it, Dad. You see the amperage will be
exceptionally high, and my batteries will have a large amount of
reserve, with little internal resistance. But do you know I'm so
tired I can hardly think. It's more of a job than I thought it
would be."
Tom, a little later, strolled down the road. As he turned back
toward the house and walked up the shrubbery lined path he heard
a noise.
"Some one's hiding in there!" thought the lad, and he darted to
an opening in the hedge to reach the other side. As he did so he
saw a figure running away. Whether it was a man or a boy he could
not tell in the darkness.
"Hold on there!" cried the young inventor, but, naturally, the
fleeing one did not stop. Tom began to sprint, and as it was
slightly down hill, he made good time. The figure ahead of him
was running well, too, but Tom who could see better, now that he
was out from under the trees, noticed that he was gaining. The
fleeing one came to a little brook, and hesitated a moment before
leaping across. This enabled Tom to catch up, and he made a grab
for the figure, just as the man or boy sprang across the little
Tom missed his grip, but he was not going to give up. He
scarcely slackened his speed, but, with the momentum he had
acquired in racing down the hill, he, too, leaped across the
brook. As he landed on the other side he made another grab for
the figure, a man, as Tom could now see, but he could make out no
features, as the person's hat was pulled down over his face.
"I've got you now!" cried Tom exultantly, reaching out his
hand. His fingers clutched something, but the next instant the
young inventor went sprawling. The other had put out his foot,
and tripped him neatly and, Tom throwing out his hands to save
himself in the fall that was inevitable, went splashing into the
brook at full length. The unknown, pausing a moment to view what
he had done, turned quickly and raced off in the darkness.
More surprised than hurt, and with a feeling of chagrin and
anger at the trick which had been played on him, Tom managed to
scramble out of the brook. The water was not deep, but he had
splashed in with such force that he was wet all over. And, as he
got up, the water drip-ping from his clothes, the lad was
conscious of a pain in his head. He put up his hand, and found
that contact with a stone had raised a large lump on his
forehead. It was as big as a hen's egg.
"Humph! I'll be a pretty sight to-morrow," murmured Tom. "I
wonder who that fellow was, anyhow, and what he wanted? He
tripped me neatly enough, whoever he was. I've a good notion to
keep on after him."
Then, as he realized what a start the fleeing one had, the
young inventor knew that it would be fruitless to renew the
chase. Slowly he ascended the sloping bank, and started for home.
As he did so he realized that he had, clasped in his fingers,
something he had grabbed from the person he was pursuing just
before his unlucky tumble.
"It's part of his watch chain!" exclaimed Tom, as he felt of
the article. "I must have ripped it loose when I fell. Wonder
what it is? Evidently some sort of a charm. Maybe it will be a
clue." He tried to discern of what style it was, but in the dark
woods this was impossible. Then the lad tried to strike a match,
but those in his pocket had become wet from his unexpected bath.
"I'll have to wait until I get home," he went on, and he hastened
his steps, for he was anxious to see what he had torn loose from
the person who appeared to be spying on him.
"Why Tom, what's the matter?" exclaimed Mrs. Baggert, when he
entered the kitchen, dripping water at every step. "Is it raining
outside? I didn't hear any storm."
"It was raining where I was," replied Tom angrily. "I fell in
the brook. It was so hot I thought I'd cool off."
"With your best suit on!" ejaculated the housekeeper.
"It isn't my best," retorted the lad. "But I went in before I
thought. It was an accident; I fell," he added, lest Mrs. Baggert
take his joking remarks seriously. He did not want to tell her of
the chase.
The chief concern of the lad now was to look at the charm and,
as soon as Mrs. Baggert's attention was attracted elsewhere, Tom
glanced at the object he still held tightly clenched in his hand.
As the light from the kitchen fell upon it he could hardly
repress an exclamation of astonishment.
For the charm that he held in his hand was one he had seen
before dangling from the watch chain of Addison Berg, the agent
for Bentley & Eagert, submarine boat builders, which firm had, as
told in "Tom Swift and His Submarine," tried unsuccessfully to
secure the gold treasure from the sunken wreck. Berg and his
associates had even gone so far as to try to disable the Advance,
the boat of Tom and his father, by ramming her when deep down
under the ocean, but Mr. Swift's use of an electric cannon had
broken the steering gear of the Wonder, the rival craft, and from
that time on Tom and his friends had a clear field to search for
the bullion held fast in the hold of the Boldero. "Addison Berg,"
murmured Tom, as he looked at the watch charm. "What can he be
doing in this neighborhood? Hiding, too, as if he wanted to
overhear something. That's the way he did when we were building
our submarine, and now he's up to the same trick when I'm
constructing my electric car. I'm sure this charm is his. It is
such a peculiar design that I'm positive I can't be mistaken. I
thought, when I was chasing after him, that it would turn out to
be Andy Foger, or some of the boys, but it was too big for them.
Addison Berg, eh? What can he be doing around here? I must not
tell Dad, or he'd worry himself sick. But I must be on my guard."
Tom examined the charm closely. It was a compass, but made in
an odd form, and was much ornamented.
The young inventor had noticed it on several occasions when he
had been in conversation with Mr. Berg previous to the attempt on
the part of the owners of the rival submarine to wreck Tom's
boat. He felt that he could not be mistaken in identifying the
"Berg was afraid I'd catch him, and ask for an explanation that
would have been awkward to make," thought the lad, as he turned
the charm over in his hand. "That's why he tripped me up. But
I'll get at the bottom of this yet. Maybe he wants to steal my
ideas for an electric car."
Tom's musings were suddenly interrupted by Mrs. Baggert.
"I hope you're not going to stand there all night," she said,
with a laugh. "You're in the middle of a puddle now, but when you
get over dreaming I'd like to mop it up."
"All right," agreed the young inventor, coming to himself
suddenly. "Guess I'd better go get some dry clothes on."
"You'd better go to bed," advised Mrs. Baggert. "That's where
your father and Mr. Sharp are. It's late."
The more Tom thought over the strange occurrence the more it
puzzled him. He mused over the presence of Berg as he went about
his work the next day, for that it was the agent whom he had
pursued he felt positive.
"But I can't figure out why he was hanging around here," mused
Then, as he found that his thoughts over the matter were
interfering with his work, he resolutely put them from him, and
threw himself energetically into the labor of completing his
electric car. The new batteries, he found, were working well, and
in the next two days he had constructed several more, joining
them so as to get the combined effect.
It was the afternoon of the third day from Tom's unexpected
fall into the brook that the young inventor decided on the first
important test of his new device. He was going to try the motor,
running it with his storage battery. Some of the connections were
already in place, the wires being fastened to the side of the
shop, where they were attached to switches. Tom did not go over
these, taking it for granted that they were all right. He soon
had the motor, which he was to install in his car, wired to the
battery, and then he attached a gauge, to ascertain, by
comparison, how many miles he could hope to travel on one
charging of the storage battery.
"Guess I'll call Dad and Mr. Sharp in to see how it works,
before I turn on the current," he said to himself. He was about
to summon his parent and the aeronaut from an adjoining shop,
where they were working over a new form of dynamo, when the lad
caught sight of the watch charm he had left on his desk, in plain
"Better put that away," he remarked. "Dad or Mr. Sharp might
see it, and ask questions. Then I'd have to explain, and I don't
want to, not until I get further toward the bottom of this
He put the charm away, and then summoned his father and the
"You're going to see a fine experiment," declared Tom. "I'm
going to turn on the full strength of my battery."
"Are you sure it's all right, Tom?" asked his father. "You
can't be too careful when you're dealing with electricity of high
voltage, and great ampere strength.
"Oh, it's all right, Dad," his son assured him "Now watch my
motor hum."
He walked over to a big copper switch, and grasped the black
rubber handle to pull it over which would send the current from
the storage battery into the combination of wheels and gears that
he hoped, ultimately, would propel his electric automobile along
the highways, or on a track, at the rate of a hundred miles an
"Here she goes!" cried Tom. For an instant he hesitated and
then pulled the switch. At the same time his hand rested on
another wire, stretched across a bench.
No sooner had the switch closed than there was a blinding
flash, a report as of a gun being fired, and Tom's body seemed to
straighten out. Then a blue flame appeared to encircle him and he
dropped to the floor of the shop, an inert mass.
"He's killed!" cried Mr. Swift, springing forward.
"Careful!" cautioned the balloonist. "He's been shocked! Don't
touch him until I turn off the current!" As he pulled out the
switch, the aeronaut gave a glance at the apparatus.
"There's something wrong here!" he cried. "The wires have been
crossed! That's what shocked Tom, but he never made the wrong
connections! He's too good an electrician! There's been some one
in this shop, changing the wires!"
Once the current was cut off it was safe to approach the body
of the young inventor. Mr Sharp stooped over and lifted Tom's
form from the floor, for Mr. Swift was too excited and trembled
too much to be of any service. Our hero was as one dead. His body
was limp, after that first rigid stretching out, as the current
ran through him; his eyes were closed, and his face was very
"Is--is there any hope?" faltered Mr. Swift.
"I think so," replied the balloonist. "He is still breathingfaintly.
We must summon a doctor at once. Will you telephone for
one, while I carry him in the house?"
As Mr. Sharp emerged from the shop, bearing Tom's body, an
automobile drew up in front of the place.
"Bless my soul!" exclaimed a voice. "Tom's hurt! How did it
happen? Bless my very existence!"
"Oh, Mr. Damon, you're just in time!" exclaimed Mr. Sharp,
"Tom's had a bad shock. Will you go for a doctor in your auto?"
"Better than that! Let me take Tom in the car to Dr.
Whiteside's office," proposed the eccentric man. "It will be
better that way."
"Yes, yes," agreed Mr. Swift eagerly. "Put Tom in the auto!"
"If only it doesn't break down," added Mr. Damon fervently.
"Bless my spark plug, but it would be just my luck!"
But they started off all right, Mr. Swift riding in front with
Mr. Damon, and Mr. Sharp supporting Tom in the tonneau. Only a
little fluttering of the eyelids, and a slow, faint breathing
told that Tom Swift still lived.
Mr. Damon never guided a car better than he did his auto that
day. Several speed laws were broken, but no one appeared to stop
them, and, in record time they had the young inventor at the
physician's house. Fortunately Dr. Whiteside was at home, and,
under his skillful treatment Tom was soon out of danger. His
heart action was properly started, and then it was only a
question of time. As the doctor had plenty of room it was decided
to let the lad remain that night, and Tom was soon installed in a
spare bedroom, with the doctor's pretty daughter to wait on him
"Oh, I'm all right," the youth insisted, when Miss Whiteside
told him it was time for his medicine. "I'm all right."
"You're not!" she declared. "I ought to know, for I'm going to
be a nurse, some day, and help papa. Now take this or I'll have
to hold your nose, as they do the baby's," and she held out a
spoonful of unpleasant looking mixture, extending her dainty
forefinger and thumb of her other hand, as if to administer dire
punishment to Tom, if he did not obey.
"Well, I give in to superior strength," he said with a laugh,
as he noted, with approval, the laughing face of his nurse.
Then he fell into a deep sleep, and was so much better the next
morning that he could be taken home in Mr. Damon's auto.
"But mind, no hard work for three or four days," insisted the
physician. "I want your heart to get in shape for that big race
you were telling me about. The shock was a severe strain to it."
Tom promised, reluctantly, and, though he did no work, his
first act, on reaching home, was to go out to the shop, to
inspect the battery and motor. To his surprise the motor was
running for the lad had established the connection, in spite of
his shock and his father and Mr. Sharp had decided to let the
machinery run until he came back.
"And look at the record it's made!" cried Tom delightedly as he
glanced at the gauge "Better than I figured on. That battery is a
wonder. I'll have the fastest electric runabout you ever saw."
"If the wires don't get crossed again," put in Mr. Sharp.
"You'd better make an examination, Tom," and, for the first time,
the young inventor learned how he had been shocked.
"Crossed wires! I should say they were crossed!" he exclaimed
as he looked at the switches and copper conductors. "Somebody has
been tampering with them. No wonder I was shocked!"
"Who did it?" asked Mr. Sharp.
Tom considered for a moment, before answering. Then he said:
"I believe it was Addison Berg. He must have wanted to do some
damage, to get even with us for getting that treasure away from
"Berg?" questioned the balloonist, and Tom told of the night he
had been tripped into the brook, and exhibited the watch charm he
had secured. Mr. Sharp recognized it at once. A further
examination confirmed the belief that the submarine agent had
sneaked into Tom's workshop, and had altered the wires.
"They were all right when I came out of the shop that night,"
declared Tom. "I left the old connections just as I thought I had
arranged them, and only added the new ones, when I went to try my
battery. The old connections were crossed, but I didn't notice
it. Then when I turned on the current I got the shock. I don't
s'pose Berg thought I'd be so nearly killed. Probably he wanted
to burn out my motor, and spoil it. If it was Andy Foger I could
understand it, but a man like Berg--"
"He's probably wild with anger because his submarine got the
worst of it in the race for the gold," interrupted the
balloonist. "Well, we'll have to be on our guard, that's all.
What was the matter with Eradicate, that he didn't see him enter
the shop?"
"Rad went to a colored dance that night," said Tom. "I let him
off. But after this I'll have the shop guarded night and day. My
motor might have been ruined, if that first charge hadn't gone
through my body instead of into the machinery." The improper
connections were soon removed and others substituted.
It was agreed between Tom and Mr. Sharp that they would say
nothing regarding Mr. Berg to Mr. Swift. The aeronaut caused
cautious inquiries to be made, and learned that the agent had
been discharged by the submarine firm, because of some wrongdoing
in connection with the craft Wonder, and it was surmised
that the agent believed Tom to be at the bottom of his troubles.
In a few days the young inventor was himself again, and as
further trials of his battery showed it to be even better than
its owner hoped, arrangements were made for testing it in the car
on the road.
The runabout was nearly finished, but it lacked a coat of
varnish, and some minor details, when Tom, assisted by his
father, Mr Sharp and Mr. Jackson, one morning, about a week
later, installed the motor and battery units. It did not take
long to gear up the machinery, connect the battery and, though
the car was rather a crude looking affair, Tom decided to give it
a try-out
"Want to come along, Dad?" he asked, as he tightened up some
binding posts, and looked to see that the steering wheel,
starting and reverse levers worked properly, and that the side
chains were well lubricated.
"Not the first time," replied his father. "Let's see how it
runs with you, first."
"Oh, I want some sort of a load in it," went on the lad. "It
won't be a good test unless I have a couple of others besides
myself. How about you, Mr. Damon?" for the old gentleman was
spending a few days at the Swift homestead.
"Bless my shoe buttons! I'll come!" was the ready answer.
"After the experience I've been through in the airship and
submarine, nothing can scare me. Lead on, I'll follow!"
"I don't suppose you'll hang back after that; will you, Mr.
Sharp?" asked the lad, with a laugh.
"I don't dare to, for the sake of my reputation," was the
reply, for the balloonist who had made many ascensions, and
dropped thousands of feet in parachutes, was naturally a brave
So he and Mr. Damon climbed into the rear seats of the oddlooking
electric car, while Tom took his place at the steering
"Are you all ready?" he asked.
"Let her go!" fired back Mr. Sharp.
"Bless my galvanometer, don't go too fast on the start,"
cautioned Mr. Damon, nervously.
"I'll not," agreed the young inventor. "I want to get it warmed
up before I try any speeding."
He turned on the current. There was a low, humming purr, which
gradually increased to a whine, and the car moved slowly forward.
It rolled along the gravel driveway to the road, Tom listening to
every sound of the machinery, as a mother listens to the
breathing of a child.
"She's moving!" he cried.
"But not much faster than a wheelbarrow," said his father, who
sometimes teased his son.
"Wait!" cried the youth.
Tom turned more current into the motor. The purring and humming
increased, and the car seemed to leap forward. It was in the road
now, and, once assured that the steering apparatus was working
well, Tom suddenly turned on much more speed.
So quickly did the electric auto shoot forward that Mr. Damon
and Mr. Sharp were jerked back against the cushions of the rear
"Here! What are you doing?" inquired Mr. Sharp.
"I'm going to show you a little speed," answered Tom.
The car was now moving rapidly, and there was a smoothness and
lightness to its progress that was absent from a gasolene auto.
There was no vibration from the motor. Faster and faster it ran,
until it was moving at a speed scarcely less than that of Mr.
Damon's car, when it was doing its best. Of course that was not
saying much, for the car owned by the odd gentleman was not a
very powerful one, but it could make fast time occasionally.
"Is this the best you can do?" asked Mr. Damon. "Not that it
isn't fast," he hastened to add, "and I was wondering if it was
your limit."
"Not half!" cried Tom, as he turned on a little more power.
"I'm not trying for a record to-day. I just want to see how the
battery and motor behaves."
"Pretty well, I should say," commented Mr. Sharp.
"I'm satisfied--so far," agreed the lad.
They were now moving along the highway at a good speed--moving
almost silently, too, for the motor, save for a low hum, made no
noise. So quiet was the car, in fact, that it was nearly the
cause of a disaster. Tom was so interested in the performance of
his latest invention, that, before he knew it, he had come up
behind a farmer, driving a team of skittish horses. As the big
machine went past them, giving no warning of its approach, the
steeds reared up, and would have bolted, but for the prompt
action of the driver.
"Hey!" he cried, angrily, as Tom speeded past, "don't you know
you got to give warnin' when you're comin' with one of them ther
gol-swizzled things! By Jehossephat I'll have th' law on ye ef ye
do thet ag'in!"
"I forgot to ring the bell," apologized Tom, as he sent out a
peal from the gong, and then, he let out a few more amperes, and
the speed increased.
"Hold on! I guess this is fast enough!" cried Mr. Damon, as his
hat blew off.
"Fast?" answered Tom. "This is nothing to what I'll do when I
use the full power. Then I'll--"
He was interrupted by a sharp report, and a vivid flash of fire
on a switch board near the steering wheel. The motor gave a sort
of groan, and stopped, the car rolling on a little way, and then
becoming stationary.
"Bless my collar button!" ejaculated Mr. Damon.
"What's the matter?" inquired Mr. Sharp.
"Some sort of a blow-out," answered Tom ruefully, as he shoved
the starting handle over, trying to move the car. But it would
not budge. The new auto had "gone dead" on her first tryout. The
young inventor was grievously disappointed.
"Bless my gizzard! Is it anything serious?" asked Mr. Damon.
"Will it blow up, or anything like that?"
"No," replied the lad, as he leaped out of the car, and began
to make an examination. Mr. Sharp assisted him.
"The motor seems to be all right," remarked the balloonist, as
he inspected it.
"Yes," agreed our hero, "and the batteries have plenty of power
left in them yet. The gauge shows that. I can't understand what
the trouble can be, unless--" He paused in his remark and uttered
an exclamation. "I've found it!" he cried.
"What?" demanded the aeronaut.
"Some of the fuses blew out. I turned on too much current, and
the fuses wouldn't carry it. I put them in to save the motor from
being burned out, but I didn't use heavy enough ones. I see where
my mistake was."
"But what does it mean?" inquired Mr. Damon.
"It means that we've got to walk back home," was Tom's
sorrowful answer. "The car is stalled, for I haven't any extra
fuses with me."
"Can't you connect up the battery by using some extra wire?"
asked Mr. Sharp. "I have some," and he drew a coil of it from his
"I wouldn't dare to. It might be so heavy that it would carry
more current than the motor could stand. I don't want to burn
that out. No, I guess we'll have to walk home, or rather I will.
You two can stay here until I come back with heavier fuses. I'm
Tom had hardly ceased speaking, when, from around the turn in
the road proceeded a voice, and, at the sound of it all three
started, for the voice was saying:
"Now it ain't no use fer yo' to act dat-a-way, Boomerang. Yo'
all ain't got no call t' git contrary now, jest when I wants t'
git home t' mah dinner. I should t'ink you'd want t' git t' de
stable, too. But ef yo' all ain't mighty keerful I'll cut down
yo' rations, dat's what I'se goin' to do. G'lang, now, dat's a
good feller. Ho! Ho! I knowed dat'd fetch yo' all. When yo' all
wiggles yo' ears dat-a-way, dat's a suah sign yo' all is gwine t'
Then followed the sound of a rattletrap of a wagon approaching.
"Eradicate! It's Eradicate!" exclaimed Tom.
"And his mule, Boomerang!" added Mr. Sharp. "He's just in
time!" commented Mr. Damon with a sigh of relief, as the ancient
outfit, in charge of the aged colored man, came along. Eradicate
had been sent to Shopton to get a load of wood for Mr. Swift, and
was now returning. At the sight of the stalled auto the mule
pricked up his long ears, and threw them forward.
"Whoa dar, now, Boomerang!" cried Eradicate. "Doan't yo' all
commence t' gittin' skittish. Dat machine ain't gwine t' hurt
yo'. Why good land a' massy! Ef 'tain't Mistah Swift!" cried the
colored man, as he caught sight of Tom. "What's de trouble?" he
"Broke down," answered the young inventor briefly. "You always
seem to come along when I'm in trouble, Rad."
"Dat's right," assented the darkey, with a grin. "Me an'
trouble am ole acquaintances. Sometimes she hits me a clip on de
haid, den, ag'in Boomerang, mah mule, gits it. He jest had his
trouble. Got a stone under his shoe, an' didn't want t' move. Den
when I did git him started he balked on me. But I'se all right
now. But I suah am sorry fo' you. Can't I help yo' all, Mistah
"Yes, you can, Rad," answered Tom. "Drive home as fast as you
can, and ask Dad to send back with you some of those fuses he'll
find on my work bench. He knows what I want. Hurry there and
hurry back."
Eradicate shook his head doubtfully.
"What's the matter? Don't you want to go?" asked Mr. Sharp, a
trifle nettled. "We can't get the car started until we have some
new fuses.."
"Oh, I wants t' go all right 'nuff, Mistah Sharp," was
Eradicate's prompt answer. "Yo' all knows I'd do anyt'ing t'
'blige yo' or Mistah Swift. But hits dish yeah mule, Boomerang. I
jest done promised him dat we were gwine home t' dinnah, an' he
'spects a manger full ob oats. Ef I got to Mistah Swift's house
wid him, I couldn't no mo' git him t' come back widout his
dinnah, dan yo' all kin git dat 'ar car t' move widout dem fusin'
t'ings yo' all talked about."
"Bless my necktie!" exclaimed Mr. Damon. "That's all nonsense!
You don't suppose that mule understands what you say to him, do
you? How does he know you promised him his dinner?"
"I doan't know how he know, Mistah Damon," replied Eradicate,
"but he do know, jest de same. I know hit would be laik pullin'
teeth an' wuss too, t' git Boomerang t' start back wid dem foosd
t'ings until after he's had his dinner. Wouldn't it, Boomerang?"
The mule waved his long ears as if in answer.
"Bless my soul, I believe he does understand!" cried Mr. Damon.
"Of course he do," put in the colored man. "I'se awful sorry.
Now if it were afternoon I could bring back dem what-d'ye-call-
'ems in a jiffy, 'cause Boomerang allers feels good arter he has
his dinnah, but befo' dat--" and Eradicate shook his head, as if
there was no more to be said on the subject.
"Well," remarked Tom, sadly, "I guess there's no help for it.
We'll have to walk home, unless you two want to wait until I can
ride back with Eradicate, and come back on my motor cycle. Then
I'll have to leave the cycle here, for I can't get it in the
"Bless my collar button!" cried Mr. Damon. "It's like the
puzzle of the fox, the goose and the bag of corn on the banks of
a stream. I guess we'd better all walk."
"Hold on!" exclaimed Mr. Sharp. "Is your mule good and strong,
"Strong? Why dish yeah mule could pull a house ober--dat is
when he's got a mind to. An' he'd do most anyt'ing now, 'ca'se
he's anxious t' git home t' his dinnah; ain't yo' all,
Once more the mule waved his ears, like signal flags.
"Then I have a proposition to make," went on the balloonist.
"Unhitch the mule from the load of wood, and hitch him to the
auto. We've got some rope along, I noticed. Then the mule can
pull us and the runabout home."
"Good idea!" cried Mr. Damon.
"Dat's de racket!" ejaculated Eradicate. "I'll jest
sequesterate dish year load ob wood side ob de road, an' hitch
Boomerang to de auto."
Tom said nothing for a few seconds. He gazed sadly at his
auto, which he hoped would win the touring club's prize. It was a
bitter pill for him to swallow.
"Towed by a mule!" he exclaimed, shaking his head, and smiling
ruefully. "The fastest car in this country towed by a mule! It's
tough luck!"
"'Tain't half so bad as goin' widout yo' dinnah, Mistah Swift!"
remarked Eradicate, as he began to harness the mule to the
electric runabout.
Boomerang made no objection to the transfer. He looked around
once or twice as he was being made fast to the auto and, when the
word was given he stepped out as if pulling home stalled cars was
his regular business. Tom sat beside Eradicate on the front seat,
and steered, while the colored man drove the mule, and Mr. Sharp
and Mr. Damon were in the "tonneau" seats as Tom called them.
"I hope no one sees us," thought Tom, but he was doomed to
disappointment. When nearly home he heard an auto approaching,
and in it were Andy Foger, Sam Snedecker and Pete Bailey. The
three cronies stared at the odd sight of Boomerang ambling along,
with his great ears flapping, drawing Tom's speedy new car.
"Ha! Ha!" laughed Andy. "So that's the motive power he's going
to use! Look at him, fellows. I thought his new electric, that
was going to beat my car, and win the prize, was to be two
hundred horse power. Instead it's one mule power! That's rich!"
and Andy's chums joined in the laugh at poor Tom.
The young imventor said nothing, for there was nothing he could
say. In dignified silence he passed the car containing his
enemies, they, meanwhile, jeering at him.
"Dat's all right," spoke Eradicate, sympathizing with his young
employer. "Maybe dey'll 'want a tow derselves some day, an' when
dey does, I'll make Boomerang pull 'em in a ditch."
But this was small comfort to Tom. He made up his mind, though,
that he would demonstrate that his car could do all that he had
claimed for it, and that very soon.
Boomerang did not belie the reputation Eradicate had given him
as a beast of strength. Though the electric runabout was heavy,
the mule managed to move it along the road at a fair speed, with
the four occupants. Perhaps the animal knew that at the end of
his journey a good feed awaited him. At any rate they were soon
within sight of the Swift home.
Mr. Damon and Mr. Sharp refrained from making any comments that
might hurt Tom's feelings, for they realized the chagrin felt by
the young inventor in having his apparatus go back on him at the
first trial. But our hero was not the kind of a lad who is
disheartened by one failure, or even half a dozen.
The humor of the situation appealed to him, and, as he turned
the auto into the driveway, and noticed Boomerang's long ears
waving to and fro, he laughed.
The lad insisted on putting new fuses in the car before he ate
his dinner, and then, satisfied that the motor was once more in
running order, he partook of a hasty meal, and began making
several changes which he had decided were desirable. He finished
them in time to go for a little run in the car all alone on a
secluded road late that afternoon.
Tom returned, with eyes shining, and cheeks flushed with
"Well, how did it go? asked his father.
"Fine! Better than I expected," responded his son
enthusiastically. "When it gets to running smoothly I'll pass
anything on the road."
"Don't be too sure," cautioned Mr. Swift, but Tom only smiled.
There was still much to do on the electric runabout, and Tom
spent the next few days in adjusting the light steel wind-shield,
that was to come down over the driver's seat. He also put in a
powerful electric search-light, which was run by current from the
battery, and installed a new speedometer and an instrument to
tell how much current he was using, and how much longer the
battery would run without being exhausted. This was to enable him
to know when to begin re-charging it. When the current was all
consumed it was necessary to store more in the battery. This
could be done by attaching wires from a dynamo, or, in an
emergency by tapping an electric light wire in the street. But as
the battery would enable the car to run many miles on one
charging, Tom did not think he would ever have to resort to the
emergency charging apparatus. He had a new system for this, one
that enabled him to do the work in much less than the usual time.
With his new car still unpainted, and rather rough and crude in
appearance, the lad started out alone one morning, his father and
Mr. Sharp having declined to accompany him, on the plea of
business to attend to, and Mr. Damon not being at the Swift
Tom rode about for several hours, giving his car several severe
tests in the way of going up hills, and speeding on the level. He
was proceeding along a quiet country road, in a small town about
fifteen miles from Shopton, when, as he flashed past the small
railroad station, he saw a familiar figure standing on the
"Why, Ned!" called Tom, "what are you doing over here?"
"I might ask the same thing of you. Is that your new car? It
doesn't look very new."
"Yes, this is it. I haven't had a chance to paint and varnish
it yet. But you ought to see it go. What are doing here, though?"
"I came over on some bank business. A customer here had some
bonds he wanted to dispose of and I came for them. You see we're
enlarging our business since the new bank started."
"Has it hurt your bank any?"
"Not yet, but Foger and his associates are trying hard to make
us lose money. Say, did you ever see such a place as this? I've
got to wait two hours for a train back to Shopton."
"No you haven't."
"Why not? Have they changed the timetable since I came over
this morning?"
"No, but you can ride back with me. I'm going, and I'll show
you what my new electric car can do."
"Good!" cried the young bank cashier. "You're just in time. I
was wondering how I could kill two hours, but now I'll get in
your new car and--"
"And maybe we'll kill a few chickens, or a dog or two when we
get her speeded up," put in Tom, with a laugh in which Ned
The two lads, seated in the front part of the auto, were soon
moving down the hard highway. Suddenly Tom pulled a lever and the
steel wind-shield came sliding down from the top case, meeting
the forward battery compartment, and forming a sort of slanting
roof over the heads of the two occupants.
"Here! What's this?" cried Ned.
"We're going to hit it up in a few minutes," replied the young
inventor, "and I want to reduce the wind resistance."
"Oh, I thought maybe we were going through a bombardment. It's
all right, go ahead, don't mind me. I'm game."
There was a celluloid window in the steel wind-shield, and
through this the lads could observe the road ahead of them.
As they swung along it, the speed increasing, Ned saw an auto
ahead of them.
"Whose car is that?" he asked.
"Don't know," replied Tom. "We'll be up to it in about half a
minute, though."
As the electric runabout, more dilapidated looking than ever
from the layer of dust that covered it, passed the other auto,
which was a powerful car, the solitary occupant of it, a middleaged
man, looked to one side, and, seeing the queer machine,
"You fellows are going the wrong way to the junk heap. Turn
"Is that so?" asked Tom, his eyes flashing at the cheap wit of
the man. "Why we came out here to show you the way!"
"Do you want to race?" asked the man eagerly, too eagerly, Ned
thought. "I'll give you a brush, if you do, and a handicap into
the bargain."
"We don't need it," replied the young inventor quickly.
"I'll wager fifty dollars I can beat you bad on this three-mile
stretch," went on the autoist. "How about it?"
"I'll race you, but I don't bet," answered Tom, a bit stiffly.
"Oh, be a sport," urged the man.
Tom shook his head. He had slowed down his machine, and was
running even with the gasolene car now. He noticed that it was a
new one, of six cylinders, and looked speedy. Perhaps he was
foolish to pit his untried car against it. Yet he had confidence
in his battery and motor.
"Well, we'll race for the fun of it then," went on the man. "Do
you want a handicap?"
Tom shook his head again, and there came around his mouth a
grim look.
"All right," assented the other. "Only you're going to be beat
badly. I never saw an electric car yet that could do anything
except to crawl along."
"You're going to see one now," was all the retort Tom permitted
"Here we go then!" cried the man, and he gave his gear handle a
yank, and shoved over the sparking and gasolene levers.
His car instantly shot ahead, and went "chug chugging" down the
road in a cloud of dust. At the same moment Tom, in answer to a
look from Ned, who feared his friend was going to be left behind,
turned more power into the motor. The humming, purring sound
increased and the electric car forged ahead.
"Can you catch him?" asked Ned.
"Watch," was all Tom said.
The hum of the motor became a sort of whine, and the electric
rapidly acquired speed. It crept up on the gasolene car, as an
express train overtakes a freight, and the man, looking back, and
expecting to see his rival far behind was surprised to note the
queer looking vehicle lapping his rear wheels.
"Well, you are coming on, aren't you?" he asked. "Maybe you'll
keep up now!" He shifted the gears, using a little more gasolene.
For a moment his car opened a wide gap between it and Tom's, but
the young inventor had only begun to race. Still louder purred
the motor, and in a few minutes Tom was running on even terms
with his competitor. The man looked annoyed, and tried, by the
skilful use of gasolene and sparking levers, to leave Tom behind.
But the electric held her own.
"I've got to go the limit I see," remarked the man at last,
glancing sideways at the other car. "I'll tell 'em you're
coming," he added, "though I must say your electric does better
than any of its kind I ever came across."
"I'm not done yet," was the comment of our hero. But the man
did not hear him, for he was yanking into place the lever that
enabled him to run on direct drive for fourth speed.
Forward shot his car, and, for perhaps a quarter of a mile it
led. The racers were almost at the end of the three-mile level
stretch of road, and if Tom was going to win the impromptu
contest it seemed high time he began.
"Can you catch him?" asked Ned anxiously.
"Watch," was his chum's reply. "I haven't used my high speed
gear yet. I'm afraid the fuses won't stand it, but here goes for
a try, anyhow."
He threw over a switch, changed a lever and then, having pushed
into place the last gear, he grasped the steering wheel more
There was need of it, for, in an instant, the electric
runabout, with the motors fairly roaring, swept up the road,
after the gasolene car that was almost hidden from sight in a
cloud of dust. Faster and faster went Tom's car. The young
inventor was listening with critical ear to the song of the
machinery. He wanted to learn if it was running sweet and true,
for that is how a careful mechanic tests his apparatus. Foot by
foot the distance between the two cars lessened. Now the electric
was lapping the rear wheels of the gasolene machine, but the
driver did not know it. His whole attention was on the road ahead
of him.
"Half a mile more!" cried Ned, naming the distance which yet
remained of the straight stretch. "Can you do it, Tom?"
His chum nodded. He shoved the controller handle over to the
last notch, and then waited an anxious second. Would the fuse
carry the extra load? It seemed so, for there was a slight
increase of power.
An instant later Tom gave a sudden twist to the steering wheel.
It was well that he did, for he was passing the gasolene car
dangerously close. Then he was ahead of it, and in a second he
was three lengths in advance.
Desperately the man opened his muffler, and sought to gain by
this advantage, but though his car gave off explosions like a
battery of guns in action, he could not gain on Tom. The electric
shot around a curve in the road, winner of the impromptu race by
an eighth of a mile.
"Well," asked Tom of his chum, as he slowed down, for the road
now was not so good, "did I do it?"
"You certainly did. Whew! But we did scoot along?"
"Eighty miles an hour there one spell," went on the young
inventor, glancing at a gauge. "But I've got to do better than
that to win the big race."
Around the bend came the six-cylinder touring car. The driver,
with a surprised look on his face, was slacking up. He ran his
machine up alongside of Tom's.
"Say," he asked, in dazed tones, "did you take a short cut, or
anything like that to get ahead of me?"
"No," answered the youth.
"And you didn't jump me in the air?"
"No," was Tom's answer, smilingly given.
"Well, all I've got to say is that you've got a wonderful car
there, Mr.--er--er--" He paused suggestively.
"Swift is my name," our hero answered. "Thomas Swift, of
"Ah, I've heard of you. My name is Layton --Paul Layton. I'm
from Netherton. Let's see, you built an airship, didn't you?"
"I helped," Tom admitted modestly.
"Well, you beat me fair and square, and if I do say it myself
I've got a fairly speedy car. Took two firsts at the Indianapolis
meet last month. But you certainly scooted ahead of me. Where did
you buy that electric, if I may ask?"
"I made it."
"I might have known," admitted the man. "But are you going to
put them on the market? If you are I'd like to get one. I want
the fastest car going, and you seem to have it."
"I hadn't thought of manufacturing them for sale," said the
young inventor. "If I do, I'll let you know."
"I wish you would. My! I had no idea you could beat me, but you
did--fair and square."
There was some more talk, and then Mr. Layton started on, after
exacting from Tom a further promise to let him know if any
electrics were to be made for sale.
"You certainly have a wonderful car," complimented Ned, as he
and his chum took a short cut to Shopton.
"Well, I'm not quite satisfied with it," declared Tom.
"Why not?"
"Well, I've set a hundred miles an hour as my limit. I didn't
make but eighty to-day. I've got to have more speed if I go up
against the crowd that will race for the touring club's prize."
"Can you make a hundred miles?"
"I think so. I've got to change my gears, though, and use
heavier fuses. I was afraid every second that one of the fuses
would melt, and leave me stranded. But they stood pretty well. Of
course, when the car, geared as it is now, has been run a little
longer it will go faster, but it won't come up to a hundred miles
an hour. That's what I want, and that's what I'm going to get,"
and the lad looked very determined.
Ned was taken to the bank, and, as Tom turned his machine
around, to go home, he saw, standing on the steps of the new
bank, which was almost across the street from the old one, Andy
Foger, and the bully's father. The red-haired lad laughed at
Tom's rough looking car, and said something to his parent, but
Mr. Foger did not notice Tom. Not that this caused our hero any
uneasiness, however.
But, as he swung away from the bank, he saw, coming up the
street a figure that instantly attracted his attention. It was
that of Mr. Berg, and Tom at once recalled the night he had
pursued the submarine agent, and torn loose his watch charm. Mr.
Berg was evidently going to enter the new bank, for, at the sight
of the former agent, Mr. Foger descended the steps, and went to
meet him.
Tom, however, had decided upon a plan of action. He steered his
machine in toward the curb, ran up the steel wind-shield, and
"Mr. Berg!"
"Eh? What's that?" asked the agent, in some surprise. Then, as
he caught sight of Tom, and recognized him, he added: "I'm very
busy now, my young friend. You'll have to excuse me."
"I won't detain you a moment," went on Tom, casually. "I have
something of yours that I wish to return to you."
"Something of mine?" Mr. Berg was evidently puzzled. He
approached the electric car, in spite of the fact that Mr. Foger
was calling him. "Something of mine? What is it?"
"This!" exclaimed Tom suddenly, extending the compass watch
charm, which he always carried with him of late.
"That! Where did you get that. I lost it--"
Mr. Berg paused in some confusion.
"I grabbed it off your watch chain the night you were hiding in
our shrubbery, and tripped me into the brook," answered the lad,
looking the man squarely in the eye.
"Hiding? Tripped you? Grabbed that off my chain--" stammered
Mr. Berg. He had taken the charm up in his fingers, but now he
quickly dropped it back into Tom's hand. "I guess you're
mistaken," he added quickly. "That's not mine. I never had one--
I--er--that's not mine--at least--Oh, you'll have to excuse me,
young man, I'm in a hurry, and I have an important engagement!"
and with that Mr. Berg wheeled off, and joined Mr. Foger, who
stood on the sidewalk, waiting for him.
"I thought sure it was yours," said Tom, easily. "Perhaps Mr.
Foger will keep it in one of the safety-deposit boxes of his
bank, until the owner claims it," and he looked at the banker.
"What's that?" asked Andy's father.
"This watch charm which I grabbed off Mr. Berg's chain the
night he was sneaking around our house, and crossed the electric
wires," went on the lad.
"Don't listen to him. He doesn't know what he is saying!"
exclaimed the former submarine boat agent. "It's not my charm.
He's crazy!"
"Oh, am I?" thought Tom, with a grim look on his face. "Well,
we'll see about that, Mr. Berg," and, putting the charm back in
his pocket, Tom swung his machine toward home, while the agent
and the banker entered the new institution.
"So they're getting chummy," mused Tom. "Andy and Berg were
friends when Andy shut me up in the submarine tank, and now Berg
comes here to do business, and Foger and his associates are
trying to put the old bank out of business. I wonder if there's
any connection there? I must keep my eyes open. Berg is an
unscrupulous man, and so is Andy's father, to say nothing of the
red-haired bully himself. He had nerve to deny that was his
charm. Well, maybe I'll catch him some day."
Tom spent a busy week making new adjustments to his electric
car, changing the gear and providing for heavier fuses. He was
planning for another trip on the road, as the time for the great
race was drawing near, and he wanted the mechanism to be in
perfect shape.
One evening, as he was preparing for a short night trip to
Mansburg, where he had promised to call for Miss Nestor, Tom left
his machine standing in the road in front of the house, while he
went back to get a robe, as it threatened to be chilly.
As he came back to enter the car, he saw some one standing near
"Is that you, Ned?" he called. "Come, take a spin."
Hardly had he spoken than there sounded from the machine a
whirr that told of the current being turned on.
"Don't do that!" cried Tom, knowing at once that it could not
be Ned, who never meddled with the machinery.
A blinding flash and a loud report followed, and Tom saw some
one leap from his car, and try to run away. But the figure
stumbled, and, a moment later the young inventor was upon him,
grappling with him.
"Here! Let me go!" cried a voice, and Tom uttered an
exclamation of surprise.
"Andy Foger!" he cried. "I've caught you! You tried to damage
my car!"
"Yes, and I'm hurt, too!" whined Andy. "My father will sue you
for damages if I die."
"No danger of that; you're too mean," murmured Tom, as he
maintained a tight grip on the bully.
"You let me go!" demanded Andy, squirming to get away.
"Wait until I see what damage you've done,'~ retorted the young
inventor. "The worst, though, would be the blowing out of a fuse,
for I had the gear disconnected. You wait a minute now. Maybe
it's you who'll have to pay damages."
"You let me go!" fairly screamed Andy, and he aimed a blow at
Tom. It caught our hero on the chest and Tom's fighting blood was
up in an instant. He drew back his left hand, and delivered a
blow that landed fairly on Andy's right eye. The bully staggered
and went down in the dust.
"There!" cried Tom, righteously angry. "That will teach you not
to try to damage my car, and then hit me into the bargain! Now
clear out, before I give you some more!"
Whining and blubbering Andy arose to his feet.
"You just wait. I'll get square with you for this," he
"You can accept part of that as pay for what you did in the tar
and feathering game," added Tom. Then, as Andy moved in front of
one of the electric side lamps on the car, Tom uttered a whistle
of surprise. For both of Andy's eyes were bruised and swollen,
though Tom had only hit him once.
"Look at me!" cried the bully, more squint-eyed than ever.
"Look at me! You hit me in one eye, and that explosion hit me in
the other! My father will sue you for this."
As he hurried off down the road Tom understood. Andy coming
along, had seen Tom's car standing there, and, thinking to do
some mischief, had climbed in, and turned on the power. Perhaps
he hoped it would run into the roadside ditch and be smashed. But
as the gear was out, turning on the electric current had a
different effect. As the bully pulled the handle over too
quickly, throwing almost the entire force of the battery into the
wires at once, the load was too heavy for them. A safety fuse
blew out, causing the flare and the explosion, and a piece of the
soft lead-like metal had hit the red-haired lad in the eye. Tom's
fist had completed the work on the other optic, and for several
days thereafter Andy Foger remained in seclusion. When he did go
out there were many embarrassing questions put to him, as to when
he had had the fight. Andy didn't care to answer. As for Tom, it
did not take long to put a new fuse in his car, and he greatly
enjoyed his ride with Miss Nestor that night.
Coming in rather late from his trip to Mansburg, and thinking
of some things he and Miss Nestor had talked about, Tom was
rather surprised, on reaching the house, to see a light in his
father's particular room, where the aged inventor did his reading
and his planning of new devices.
"Dad's up rather late," said Tom to himself. "I wonder if he's
studying over some new machine."
The lad ran his auto into the temporary garage he had built for
it, and connected the wires of a burglar alarm he had arranged,
to give warning in case any of his enemies should seek to damage
the car.
Tom encountered Garret Jackson, the aged inventor who was going
his rounds, seeing that everything was all right about the
various shops.
"Anybody with my father, Garret?" asked the lad. "I see he's
still up."
"Yes," was the rather unexpected reply. "Mr. Damon is with him.
They've been in your father's room all the evening--ever since
you went away in the car."
"Anything the matter?" inquired the young inventor, a bit
anxious, as he thought of the Happy Harry gang.
"Well, I don't know," and the engineer seemed puzzled. "They
called me in once to know if everything was all right outside,
and to inquire if you were back. I saw, then, that they were busy
figuring over something, but I didn't take much notice. Only I
heard Mr. Damon say: 'There's going to be trouble if we can't
realize on those bonds,' and then I came away."
"Is that all he said?" asked Tom.
"No, he said 'Bless my buttons,' or something like that; but he
blesses so many things I didn't pay much attention."
"That's right," agreed the lad. "But I wonder what the trouble
is about? I must go see."
As he passed along the hall, out of which his father's combined
study and library opened, the aged inventor came to the door.
"Is that you, Tom?" he asked.
"Yes, Dad."
"Come in here, if you haven't anything else to do. Mr. Damon is
Tom needed but a single glance at the faces of his father and
Mr. Damon to see that something was troubling the two. The table
in front of them was littered with papers covered with rows of
"What's the matter?" asked Tom.
"Well, I suppose I ought not to let it bother me, but it does,"
replied his father.
"Something wrong with your patents, Dad? Has the crowd of bad
men been bothering you again?"
"No, it isn't that. It's trouble at the bank, Tom."
"Has it been robbed again?" asked the lad quickly. "If it has I
can prove an alibi," and he smiled at the recollection of the
time he and Mr. Damon had been accused of looting the vault, as
told in "Tom Swift and His Airship."
"No, it hasn't been robbed in just that way," put in Mr. Damon.
"But, bless my shoe laces, it's almost as bad! You see, Tom,
since Mr. Foger started the new bank he's done his best to
cripple the one in which your father and I are interested. I may
say we are very vitally interested in it, for, since the
withdrawal of Foger and his associates, your father and I have
been elected directors."
"I didn't know that," remarked the lad.
"No, I didn't tell you, because you were so busy on your
electric car," rejoined Mr. Swift. "But Mr. Damon and I, being
both large depositors, were asked to assume office, and, as I was
not very busy on patent affairs, I consented."
"But what is the trouble?" inquired Tom.
"I'm coming to it," resumed Mr. Damon. "Bless my check book,
I'm coming to it! You see we have lost several good customers, by
reason of Foger opening the new bank. That wouldn't have mattered
so much, as between your father and myself, and one or two
others, we have enough capital to carry on the business of the
bank. But there is a more serious matter. We hold a number of
very good securities, but they are of a class hard to realize
cash for, on short notice. In other words they are not active
bonds, though they are issued by reliable concerns. Then, too,
the bank has lost considerable money by not doing as much
business as it formerly did. In short we don't know just what to
do, Tom, and your father and I were discussing it, when you came
"Do you need more money?" asked Tom. "I have some, that is my
share from the submarine treasure, and some I have allowed to
accumulate as royalties from my patents. It's about ten thousand
dollars, and you're welcome to it."
"Thank you, Tom," spoke his father. "We may use your cash, but
we'll need a great deal more than that."
"But why?" asked the lad. "I don't understand. If you have good
bonds, can't you dispose of them, and get the money?"
"We could, Tom, yes, if we had time," replied Mr. Damon. "But
to throw the bonds on the market at short notice would mean that
we would not get a good price for them. We would lose
"But why do it in a hurry?"
"Because there is need of hurry," responded Mr. Swift.
"That's it," joined in Mr. Damon. "We have to have cash in a
hurry, Tom, to meet pressing demands, and we don't just see our
way clear to get it. I am trying to raise it on some private
securities I own, but I can't get an answer within several days.
Meanwhile the bank may fail, because of lack of funds. Of course
no one would lose anything, ultimately, as we could go into the
hands of a receiver, and, eventually pay dollar for dollar. Your
father and I, and some of the other directors, might lose a
little, but the depositors would not. But your father and I don't
like the idea of failing. It's something I've never done, and I'm
too old to start in now, bless my cash ledger if I'm not!"
"And for the sake of my reputation in this community I don't
want to see the bank close its doors," added Mr. Swift. "It would
give Foger too good a chance to crow over us."
"And you need cash in a hurry," went on Tom. "How much?"
"Fifty thousand dollars at least," replied Mr. Damon.
"And if you don't get it?"
The eccentric man shrugged his shoulders.
"Well," remarked Mr. Swift musingly, "I don't see that we need
worry you about it, Tom. Perhaps--"
Mr. Swift was interrupted by a ring at the front door. The
three looked at each other. It was late for a caller, and Mrs.
Baggert had gone to bed.
"I'll answer it," volunteered Tom. He switched on the electric
light in the hall, and opened the door. He was confronted by Mr.
Pendergast, the president of the bank.
"Is your father in?" asked Mr. Pendergast, and he seemed to be
much agitated.
"Yes, he is," replied the lad. "Come this way, please."
"I want to see him on important business," went on the
president, as he followed the young inventor. "I'm afraid I have
bad news for him and Mr. Damon. Bad news, Tom, bad news," and the
aged banker's voice trembled. Tom, with a chill of apprehension
seeming to clutch his heart, threw open the library door.
"Why, Mr. Pendergast!" exclaimed Mr. Damon, rising quickly as
Tom ushered in the aged president. "Whatever is the matter? You
here at this hour? Bless my trial balance! Is anything wrong?
"I'm afraid there is," answered the bank head. "I have just
received word which made it necessary for me to see you both at
once. I'm glad you're here, Mr. Damon."
He sank wearily into a chair which Tom placed for him, and Mr.
Swift asked:
"Have you been able to raise any cash, Mr. Pendergast?"
"No, I am sorry to say I have not, but I did not come here to
tell you that. I have bad news for you. As soon as we open our
doors in the morning, there will be a run on the bank." "A run on
the bank?" repeated Mr. Swift.
"The moment we begin business in the morning," went on Mr.
"Bless my soul, then don't begin business!" cried Mr. Damon.
"We must," insisted Mr. Pendergast. "To keep the doors closed
would be a confession at once that we have failed. No, it is
better to open them, and stand the run as long as we can. When we
have exhausted our cash--" he paused.
"Well?" asked Mr. Damon.
"Then we'll fail--that's all."
"But we mustn't let the bank fail!" cried Mr. Swift. "I am
willing to put some of my personal fortune into the bank capital
in order to save it. So is my son here."
"That's right," chimed in Tom heartily. "All I've got. I'm not
going to let Andy Foger get ahead of us; nor his father either."
"I'll help to the limit of my ability," added Mr. Damon.
"I appreciate all that," continued the president. "But the
unfortunate part of it is that we need cash. You gentlemen, like
myself, probably, have your money tied up in stocks and bonds. It
is hard to get cash quickly, and we must have cash as soon as we
open in the morning, to pay the depositors who will come flocking
to the doors. We must prepare for a run on the bank."
"How do you know there will be a run?" asked the young
"I received word this evening, just before I came here,"
replied Mr. Pendergast. "A poor widow, who has a small amount in
the bank, called on me and said she had been advised to withdraw
all her cash. She said she preferred to see me about it first, as
she did not like to lose her interest. She said a number of her
acquaintances, some of whom are quite heavy depositors, had also
been warned that the bank was unsound, and that they ought to
take out their savings and deposits at once."
"Did she say who had thus warned her?" inquired Mr. Swift.
"She did," was the reply, "and that shows me that there is a
conspiracy on foot to ruin our bank. She stated that Mr. Foger
had told her our institution was unsound."
"Mr. Foger!" cried Mr. Damon. "So this is one of his tricks to
bolster up his new bank! He hopes the people who withdraw their
money from our bank will deposit with him. I see his game. He's a
scoundrel, and if it's possible I'm going to sue him for damages
after this thing is over."
"Did he warn the others?" inquired the aged inventor.
"Not all of them," answered the president. "Some received
letters from a man signing himself Addison Berg, warning them
that our bank, was likely to fail any day."
"Addison Berg!" exclaimed Tom. "That must have been the
important business he had with Mr. Foger, the day I showed him
the watch charm! They were plotting the ruin of our bank then,"
and he told his father about his disastrous pursuit of the
submarine agent.
"Very likely Foger is working with Berg," admitted Mr. Damon.
"We will attend to them later. The question is, what can we do to
save the bank?"
"Get cash, and plenty of it," advised Mr. Pendergast. "Suppose
we go over the whole situation again?" and they fell to talking
stocks: bonds, securities, mortgages and interest, until the
youth, interested as he was in the situation, could follow it no
"Better go to bed, Tom," advised his father. "You can't help us
any, and we have many details to go over."
The lad reluctantly consented, and he was soon dreaming that he
was in his electric auto, trying to pull up a thousand pound lump
of gold from the bottom of the sea. He awoke to find the
bedclothes in a lump on his chest, and, removing them, fell into
a deep slumber.
When the young inventor awoke the next morning, Mrs. Baggert
told him that his father and Mr. Damon had risen nearly an hour
before, had partaken of a hearty breakfast, and departed.
"They told me to tell you they were at the bank," said the
"Did Mr. Pendergast stay all night?" inquired Tom.
"I heard some one go away about two o'clock this morning,"
replied the housekeeper. "I don't know who it was."
"They must have had a long session," thought Tom, as he began
on his bacon, eggs and coffee. "I'll take a run down to the bank
in my electric in a little while."
The car was still in rather crude shape, outwardly, but the
mechanism was now almost perfect. Tom charged the batteries well
before starting put.
The youth had no sooner come in sight of the old Shopton bank,
to distinguish it from the Second National, which Mr. Foger had
started, than he was aware that something unusual had occurred.
There was quite a crowd about it, and more persons were
constantly arriving to swell the throng.
"What's the matter?" asked Tom, of one of the few police
officers of which Shopton boasted, though the lad did not need to
be told.
"Run on the bank," was the brief answer. "It's failed."
Tom felt a pang of disappointment. Somehow, he had hoped that
his father and his friends might have been able to stave off
ruin. As he approached nearer Tom was made aware that the crowd
was in an ugly mood.
"Why don't they open the doors and give us our money?" cried
one excited woman. "It's ours! I worked hard for mine, an' now
they want to keep it from us. I wish I'd put it in the new bank."
"Yes, that's the best place," added another. "That Mr. Foger
has lots of money."
"I can see the hand of Andy's father, and that of Mr. Berg, at
work here," thought Tom, "They have spread rumors of the bank's
trouble, and hope to profit by it. I wish I could find a way to
beat them at their own game."
As the minutes passed, and the bank was not opened, the ugly
temper of the crowd increased. The few police could do nothing
with the mob, and several, bolder than the rest, advocated
battering down the doors. Some went up the steps and began to
pound on the portals. Tom looked for a sight of his father or Mr.
Damon, but could not see either.
It was not the regular hour for opening the bank, but when the
police reminded the people of this they only laughed.
"I guess they ain't going to open anyhow!" shouted a man.
"They've got our money, and they're going to keep it. What
difference is an hour, anyway?"
"Yes, if they have the money, why don't they open, and not wait
until ten o'clock?" cried another. "I've got a hundred and five
dollars in there, and I want it!"
More excited persons were arriving every minute. The crowd
surged this way, and that. Many looked anxiously at the clock in
the tower of the town hall. The gilded hands pointed to a few
minutes of ten. Would the bank open its doors when the hour
boomed out? Many were anxiously asking this question.
Tom sat in his electric car, near the front of the bank. The
interest of the crowd, which under ordinary circumstances would
have been centered in the queer vehicle, was not drawn toward it.
The people were all thinking of their money.
Suddenly one of the two doors of the bank slowly opened. There
was a yell from the crowd, and a rush to get in. But the police
managed to hold the leaders back, and then Tom saw that it was
Ned Newton, who stood in the partly-opened portal. He held up his
hand to indicate silence, and a hush fell over the mob.
"The bank is open for business," Ned announced, "but there must
be no rush. The building is not large enough to accommodate you
all. If you form a line, you will be admitted in turn. The bank
hopes to pay you all."
"Hopes!" cried a woman scornfully. "We can't eat hopes, young
man, nor yet pay the rent with it. Hopes indeed!"
But Ned had said all he cared to, and, with rather a white
face, he went back inside. The one door remained open and, with a
policeman on either side, a line of anxious depositors was slowly
formed. Tom watched them crowding and surging forward, all eager
to be first to get their cash out, lest there be not enough for
all. As he watched, the young inventor was aware that some was
signaling to him from the big window of the bank. He looked more
closely and saw Ned Newton beckoning to him, and the young
cashier was motioning Tom to go around to the rear, where a door
of the bank opened on a small alley. Wondering what was wanted,
Tom slowly ran his machine down the side street, and up the
alley. No one paid any attention to him.
A porter admitted the lad, and he made his way to the private
offices, where he knew his father and Mr. Damon would be. In the
corridors he could hear the murmur of the throng and the chink of
money, as the tellers paid it out.
"Well, Tom, this is bad business," remarked Mr. Swift, as he
saw his son. The lad noticed that Mr. Damon was in the telephone
"Yes, Dad," admitted Tom. "It's a run, all right. What are you
going to do?"
"The best we can. Pay out all the cash we have, and hope that
before that time, the people will come to their senses. The bank
is all right if they would only wait. But I'm afraid they won't
and, after we pay out all the cash we have, we'll have to close
the doors. Then there's sure to be an unpleasant scene, and maybe
some of the more hot-headed ones will advocate violence. We have
given orders to the tellers to pay out as slowly as possible, so
as to enable us to gain some time."
"And all you need is money; is that it, Dad?"
"That's it, Tom, but we have exhausted every possibility. Mr.
Damon is trying a forlorn hope now, but, even if he is
Before Mr. Swift had ceased speaking, Mr. Damon fairly burst
from the telephone booth. He was much excited.
"I've got it! I've got it!" he cried.
"What?" asked Mr. Swift and Tom in the same breath.
"The cash, or, what's just as good, the promise of it. I called
up Mr. Chase, of the Clayton National Bank, and he has agreed to
take the railroad securities I offered him as collateral, and let
me have sixty thousand dollars on them! That will give us cash
enough to weather the storm. Hurrah! We're all right now. Bless
my check book!"
"The Clayton National Bank," remarked Mr. Swift, and his voice
was hopeless. "It's forty miles away, Mr. Damon, and no railroad
around here runs anywhere near it. No one could get there and
back with the cash to-day, in time to save us from ruin. It's
impossible! Our last chance is gone."
"How far did you say it was, Dad?" asked Tom quickly.
"Forty miles there, over forty, I guess, and not very good
roads. We would need to have the cash here before three o'clock
to be of any service to us. No, it's out of the question. The
bank will have to fail!"
"No!" cried the young inventor, and his voice rang out through
the room. "I'll get the cash for you!"
"How?" gasped Mr. Damon. "You can't get there and back in
"Yes, I can!" cried Tom. "In my electric runabout! I can make
it go a hundred miles an hour, if necessary! Probably I'll have
to run slow over the bad roads; but I can do it! I know I can.
I'll get the sixty thousand dollars for you!"
For a moment there was silence. Then Mr. Damon cried:
"Good! And I'll go with you and deliver the securities to Mr.
Chase. Come on, Tom Swift! Bless my collar button, but maybe we
can yet save the old bank after all!"
Tom's proposal as a way out of the difficulty, and the prompt
seconding of it by Mr. Damon, seemed to deprive the other bank
officials, Mr. Swift included, of the power of speech for a few
moments. Then, as there came to the room where the scene had
taken place, the sound of the mob outside, clamoring for cash,
Mr. Pendergast, the president, remarked in a low voice:
"It seems to be the only way. Do you think you can do it, Tom
"I'm sure of it, as far as my electric car is concerned,"
replied the young inventor. "If we get the cash I'll have it back
here on time. The runabout is all ready for a fast trip."
"Then don't lose any time, Tom," advised his father. "Every
minute counts."
"Yes," added Mr. Damon. "Come on. I've got the securities in my
valise, and we can bring the cash back in the same satchel. Come
on, Tom."
The eccentric character caught up his valise, and started from
the room. Tom followed.
"Now, my son, be careful," advised his father. "You know the
need of haste, but don't take unnecessary risks. You'd better go
out the back way, as the crowd is easily excited."
Little more was said. Mr. Swift clasped his son's hand in a
firm pressure, and the bank president nervously bade the lad
good-by. Then, slipping out of the bank, by the rear entrance,
the porter closing the door after them, Tom and Mr. Damon took
their places in the electric machine.
"Just imagine you're racing for that three-thousand-dollar
prize, offered by the Touring Club of America, Tom," observed Mr.
Damon, as he deposited the valise at his feet.
"I don't have to do that," replied the youth. "I'm trying for a
bigger prize than that. I want to save the bank, and defeat the
schemes of the Fogers--father and son."
Tom turned on the power, and the machine rolled out on the main
street. As it turned the corner, leaving the impatient crowd of
depositors, now larger than ever, behind, Mr. Damon glanced over
at the new bank, and, as he did so, he called to Tom:
"There are the Fogers now."
The young inventor looked, and saw Andy and his father on the
steps of the new institution.
At the sight of the electric car, speeding along, Andy turned
and spoke to his parent. What he said seemed to impress Mr.
Foger, for he started, and looked more intently at Tom and Mr.
Damon. Then, as Tom watched, he saw the two excitedly conversing,
and a moment later Andy ran off in the direction in which Sam
Snedecker and Pete Bailey lived.
"I wonder if he's up to any tricks?" thought Tom, as he turned
on more power. "Well, if he is, I'll soon be where he can't reach
The young inventor did not dare send his car at full speed
through the streets of the town, and it was not until several
minutes had passed that they could go at more than the ordinary
rate. But once the open country was reached Tom "opened her up
full," and the song the motor sung was one of power. The vehicle
quickly gathered headway and was soon fairly whizzing along.
"If we keep this up we'll be there and back in good time,"
remarked Mr. Damon.
"Yes, but we can't do it," replied his companion. "The road to
Clayton is a poor one, and we'll soon be on it. Then we'll have
to go slow. But I'll make all the time I can until then."
So, for several miles more they crept along, at times having to
reduce to almost a walking pace, because of bad roads. Mr. Damon
looked at his watch almost every other minute.
"Eleven o'clock," he remarked, as they passed a milestone, "and
we're not half way there. Bless my gizzard, but I'm afraid we
won't make it, Tom. We left about ten, and we ought to be back by
two o'clock to do any good. That's four hours, and it will take
some time to transfer the securities, and get the cash. Every
minute counts."
"I know it," answered Tom, "and I'm going to count every
With eager eyes he watched every inch of the road, to steer to
the best advantage. His hands gripped the wheel until his
knuckles showed white with the strain, and, every now and then
his right hand adjusted the speed lever or the controller handle,
while his foot was on the emergency brake, ready to stop the car
at the first sign of danger.
And there was danger, not infrequently, for the road was up and
down hill, over frail bridges, and along steep cliffs. It was no
pleasure tour they were on.
When a little over half the distance had been made they came to
a better road, and Tom was able to use full speed ahead. Then the
electric went so fast that, had it not been for the steel windshield
in front, Mr. Damon, at any rate, would have been short of
"This is going some!" he cried to Tom. The lad nodded grimly,
and shoved the controller handle over to the last notch. Then
came a bad stretch and they had to slow down again. As they were
about out of it there came a little flash of fire and the motor
"Bless my overshoes!" cried Mr. Damon. "What's that; a fuse
blown out?"
"No," replied Tom, with a puzzled air. "But something has gone
wrong." Hastily he got out, and made an examination. He found it
was only one of the unimportant wires which had short-circuited,
and it was soon adjusted. But they had lost five precious
minutes. Tom tried to make up for lost time, but came to a hill a
little later, and this reduced their speed.
"Do you think we can make it before twelve?" asked Mr. Damon
anxiously. "We've got to, if we're to get back before three,
"I'll try," was the calm answer, and Tom's jaw was shut still
more tightly. Once again came more favorable roads and pushing
the car to the limit the occupants were rejoiced, a little later,
as they topped a hill, to come in sight of a fairly large city.
"There's Clayton!" cried Mr. Damon.
Ten minutes later they were rolling through the main street,
and as they stopped in front of the bank, the noon whistles blew
shrill and noisily.
"You did it, Tom!" cried Mr. Damon, springing out with the
valise of securities. "Now be ready for the return trip. I'll be
with you as soon as possible."
He went up the bank steps three at a time, like some boy
instead of an elderly man. Tom looked after him for a second and
then got down to oil up his car, and make some adjustments that
had rattled loose from the rough road. Unmindful of the curious
throng that gathered he crawled under the machine with his oilcan.
He had finished his work, and was back in his seat, ready to
start, but Mr. Damon had not reappeared.
"It's taking him a good while to get that cash," thought Tom.
"Maybe the securities were no good."
But, a few minutes later, Mr. Damon came hurrying from the
bank. The valise he carried seemed much heavier than when he went
"It's all right, Tom," he said. "I've got it. Now for the trip
home, and I hope we don't have any accidents. It took longer than
I thought to check over the bonds and receipt for them. But I've
got the cash. Now to save the bank!"
He took his place beside the young inventor, holding the valise
between his knees, while Tom turned on the power and sent his car
dashing down the street, and toward the road that led to Shopton.
"Did Mr. Chase make any objection to giving you the cash?"
asked Tom, as he shoved the controller over another notch, and
caused the motor to make a higher note in its song of speed.
"Oh, no, he was very nice about it," replied Mr. Damon. "He
said he hoped our bank would pull through. Said if we needed more
cash we could have it."
It was nearly one o'clock, and they had the worst part of the
journey yet to go. Thirty miles of stiff roads lay between them
and Shopton, the last five and the first five being fairly good,
with, here and there, soft spots.
Up hill and down went the electric auto. At every opportunity
Tom let out all the speed he could draw from the motor, but there
were many times when he had to slow down. He had just made the
ascent of a steep hill, and was turning into a fairly good road,
skirting the edge of a steep cliff, when there came a sharp
"Bless my soul! That's a fuse, I'm sure of it!" cried Mr.
"No," announced Tom, as he quickly shut off the power. "It's a
puncture. One of the inner tubes of the tire has been pierced. I
was afraid of that tube."
"What have you got to do; put on a new tire?" asked Mr. Damon.
"No, I'm going to put on a new wheel. I carry two spare ones
with tires all ready inflated. It won't take long."
But the process of changing wheels consumed more time than Tom
anticipated for the nut was stuck, and he and Mr. Damon had to
exert all their strength before they could loosen it. When the
new wheel was in place ten minutes had been lost.
"Hold on now, I'm going to speed her!" cried Tom, when they
were once more in their seats, and speed the machine he did. The
road was rough, but despite this the lad turned on almost full
power. Over the bumps they went, around curves and into rainwashed
ruts careening from side to side, and throwing Mr. Damon
about, as he expressed it afterward, "like a bean inside of a
football." As for the young inventor his grasp of the steering
wheel, and the manner in which he could brace himself against the
foot pedals, held him more firmly in place. On and on they
rushed, covering mile after mile, and approaching Shopton where
so much depended on their arrival.
Good and bad stretches of the road alternated, but now that Tom
had seen of what mettle his car was made, he did not spare it as
much as he had on the first trip. He saw that his machine would
stand hard knocks, and the way the battery and motor was behaving
was a joy to him. He knew that if he could make that eighty-mile
run in safety he stood a good chance of winning the prize, for no
harder test could have been devised.
But the race was still far from won. There was a particularly
unsafe stretch of road yet to be covered, and then would come a
smooth highway into Shopton.
"Ten miles more," observed Mr Damon, snapping shut his big
gold watch. "Ten miles more, and it's a quarter of two now. We
ought to be there at a quarter after, and that will be in good
time, eh, Tom?"
"I think so, but I don't know about this piece of road we're
coming to. It seems worse than when we passed over it this
As he spoke the auto began to slow up, for the wheels had
struck some heavy sand, and it was necessary to reduce the
current. Tom turned back the controller handle, but watched with
eager eyes for a sign that the roadbed was harder, so that he
could increase speed.
As the car turned around a curve, passing through a lonely
stretch of country, with woods on either side of the highway, Tom
glancing up, uttered a cry of astonishment.
"What's the matter; something gone wrong?" asked his companion.
For answer Tom pointed. There, just ahead of them, was a big
load of hay, and it was evident that the driver, was in no
particular hurry.
"We can't pass that without getting in over. our hubs!" cried
Tom. "If we turn out the side ditches are so soft that we'll need
help to pull out, and the road is so narrow for several miles
that we'll have to trail along behind that fellow."
"Bless my check book!" cried Mr. Damon. "Are we going to lose,
after all, on account of a load of hay? No, I'll buy it from him
first, at double the market price, tip it over, set fire to it,
toss it in the ditch, and then we can go past!"
"Maybe that will answer," retorted Tom, smiling grimly.
He put on a little more speed, and was soon close up behind the
load of hay, ringing his electric bell as a warning.
"I say!" called Mr. Damon to the unseen driver, "can't you turn
out and let us pass?"
"Ha! Hum! Wa'al I guess not!" came the answer, in unmistakable
farmer's accents. "You automobile fellers is too gol-hanged
smart, racin' along th' roads. I've got just as good a right here
as you fellers have, by heck!" The driver did not show himself.
"We know that," responded Tom, as quickly as he could, for he
did not want to anger the man. "But our machine is so heavy that
if we turn into the ditch I'm afraid we'll be mired."
"Huh! So'll I," was the retort from the unseen driver.. "Think
I want t' spile my load of hay?"
"But you have wide tires on, and you wouldn't sink in far,"
answered the young inventor. "Besides, it's very necessary that
we get past. A great deal depends on our speed."
"So it does on mine," was the reply. "Ef I git t' market late
I'll have t' stay all night, an' spend money on a hotel bill."
"I'll pay it! I'll pay your bill if you'll only pull out!"
cried Mr. Damon. "I'll give you a hundred dollars
He suddenly ceased speaking. From the bushes along the road
sprang several ragged, masked figures. Each one, aiming his
weapon at Tom, said in a low voice, that could not have been
heard by the driver of the hay wagon:
"Slow up your machine, young feller! We want to speak with you,
and don't you make a loud noise, or it won't be healthy for you!"
"Why of all the-!" began Mr. Damon, but another of the footpads
leveling his weapon at the eccentric man growled:
"Dry up, if you don't want to get shot!"
Mr. Damon subsided. Discretion was very plainly the better part
of valor. Tom had shut off the current. The load of hay continued
on ahead. Tom thought perhaps the driver of it might have been in
collusion with the thieves, to cause the auto to slow up.
"What do you want with us?" asked the young inventor, trying to
speak calmly, but finding it a hard task, with a revolver pointed
at him.
"You know what we want," exclaimed the leader, in a low voice.
"We want that cash you got from the bank, and we're going to have
it! Come, now, shell out!" and he advanced toward the automobile.
Close around the electric auto crowded the members of the holdup
gang. Their eyes seemed to glare through the holes in their
black masks. Instantly Tom thought of the other occasion when he
was halted by masked figures. Could these, by any possibility, be
the same individuals? Was this a trick of Andy Foger and his
Tom tried to pierce through the disguises. Clearly the persons
were men--not boys--and they wore the ragged clothes of tramps.
Also, there was an air of dogged determination about them.
"Well, are you going to shell out?" asked the leader, taking a
step nearer, "or will we have to take it?"
"Bless my very existence! You don't mean to say that you're
going to take the money--I mean how do you know we have any
money?" and Mr. Damon hastily corrected himself. "What right have
you to stop us in this way? Don't you know that every minute
counts? We are in a hurry."
"I know it," spoke the leading masked figure with a laugh. "I
know you have considerable money in that shebang, and I know what
you hope to do with it, prevent the run on the Shopton National
Bank. But we need that money as much as some other people and,
what's more, we're going to have it! Come on, shell out!"
"Oh, why didn't we bring a gun!" lamented Mr. Damon in a low
voice to Tom. "Isn't there anything we can do? Can't you give
them an electric shock, Tom?"
"I'm afraid not. If it wasn't for that hay wagon we could turn
on the current and make a run for it. But we'd only go into the
ditch if we tried to pass now."
The load of hay was down the road, but as Tom looked he noticed
a curious thing. It seemed to be nearer than it was when the
attack of the masked men came. The wagon actually seemed to have
backed up. Once more the thought came to the lad that possibly
the load of fodder might be one of the factors on which the
thieves counted. They might have used it to make the auto halt,
and the man, or men, on it were probably in collusion with the
footpads. There was no doubt about it, the load of hay was coming
nearer, backing up instead of moving away. Tom couldn't
understand it. He gave a swift glance at the robbers. They had
not appeared to notice this, or, if they had, they gave no sign.
"Then we can't do anything," murmured Mr. Damon.
"I don't see that we can," replied the young inventor in a low
"And the money we worked so hard to get won't do the bank any
good," and Mr. Damon sighed.
"It's tough luck," agreed Tom.
"Come now, fork over that cash!" called the leader, advancing
still closer. "None of that talk between you there. If you think
you can work some trick on us you're mistaken. We're desperate
men, and we're well armed. The first show of resistance you make,
and we shoot--get that, fellows?" he added to his followers, and
they nodded grimly.
"Well," remarked Mr. Damon with an air of submission, "I only
want to warn you that you are acting illegally, and that you are
perpetrating a desperate crime."
"Oh, we know that all right," answered one of the men, and Tom
gave a start. He was sure he had heard that voice before. He
tried to remember it--tried to penetrate the disguise --but he
could not.
"I'll give you ten seconds more to hand over that bag of
money," went on the leader. "If you don't, we'll take it and some
of you may get hurt in the process."
There seemed nothing else to do. With a white face, but with
anger showing in his eyes Mr. Damon reached down to get the
valise. Tom had retained his grip of the steering wheel, and the
starting lever. He hoped, at the last minute, he might see a
chance to dash away, and escape, but that load of hay was in the
path. He noted that it was now quite near, but the thieves paid
no attention to it.
Tom might have reversed the power, and sent his machine
backward, but he could not see to steer it if he went in that
direction, and he would soon have gone into the ditch. There was
nothing to do save to hand over the cash, it seemed.
Mr. Damon had the bag raised from the car, and the leader of
the thieves was reaching up for it, when there came a sudden
From the load of hay there sounded a fusillade of pistol shots,
cracking out with viciousness. This was instantly followed by the
appearance of three men who came running from around the load of
hay, down the road toward the thieves. Each man carried a
pitchfork, and as they ran, one of the trio shouted:
"Right at 'em, boys! Jab your hay forks clean through the
scoundrels! By Heck, I guess we'll show 'em we know how t' tackle
a hold-up gang as well as the next fellow! Right at 'em now!
Charge 'em! Stick your forks right through 'em!" Again there
sounded a fusillade of pistol shots.
The thieves turned as one man, and glanced at the relief so
unexpectedly approaching. They gave one look at the three
determined looking farmers, with their sharp, glittering
pitchforks, and then, without a word, they turned and fled,
leaping into the bushes that lined the roadway. The underbrush
closed after them and they were hidden from sight.
On came the three farmers, waving their effective weapons, the
pistol shots still ringing out from the load of hay. Tom could
not understand it, and could see no one firing--could detect no
"Are they gone? Did they rob ye?" asked the foremost of the
trio, a burly, grizzled farmer. Bust my buttons, but I guess we
skeered 'em all right!"
"Bless my shoe buttons, but you certainly have!" cried Mr.
Damon, descending from the automobile, and wringing the hand of
the farmer, while Tom, thrust the bag of money under his legs and
waited further developments. The pistol shots rang out until one
of the men called:
"That'll do, Bub! We've skeered 'em like Mrs. Zenoby's pet cat!
You needn't crack that whip any more."
"Whip!" cried Tom. "Was that a whip?"
"That's what it was," explained the leading farmer. "Bub
Armstrong, my nephew, can crack it to beat th' band," and as if
in proof of this there emerged from behind the load of hay a
small lad, carrying a large whip, to which he gave a few trial
cracks, like pistol shots, as if to show his ability.
"It's all right, Bub," his uncle assured him. "We made 'em
"But I don't exactly understand," spoke Mr. Damon. "I thought
you were in league with those thieves, stopping us as you did
with your big load."
"So did I," admitted Tom.
"Ha! Ha!" laughed the farmer. "That's a pretty good joke.
Excuse me for laughin'. My name's Lyon, Jethro Lyon, of Salina
Township, an' these is my two sons, Ade and Burt. You see we're
on our way to Shopton, an' my nephew, Bub, he went along. We
thought you was some of them sassy automobile fellers at first
when you hollered to us you wanted to pass. Then when we looked
back, we seen them burglars goin' t' rob you, at least that's
what we suspicioned," and he paused suggestively.
"That was it," Tom said.
"Wa'al, when we seen that, we held a sort of consultation on
thet load of hay, where they couldn't see us. It was so big you
know," he needlessly explained. "Wa'al, we calcalated we could
help you, so I jest quietly backed up, until we was near enough.
I told Bub to take the long whip, an' crack it for all he was
wuth, so's it would sound like reinforcements approachin' with
guns, an' he done it."
"He certainly done it," added Burt.
"Wa'al," resumed Mr. Lyon, "then me an my sons we jest slipped
down off the front seat, an' come a runnin' with our pitchforks.
I reckoned them burglars would run when they see us an' heard us,
an' they done so."
"Yep, they done so," added Ade, like an echo.
"I can't tell you how much obliged we are to you," said Mr.
Damon. "We have sixty thousand dollars in this valise, and they
would have had it in another minute, and the bank would have
"Sixty thousand dollars!" gasped Mr. Lyon, and his sons and
nephew echoed the words. Mr. Damon briefly explained about the
money, and he and the young inventor again thanked their
rescuers, who had so unexpectedly, and in such a novel manner,
put the thieves to flight.
"An' you've got t' git t' Shopton before three o'clock with
thet cash?" asked Mr. Lyon.
"That's what we hoped to do," replied Tom "but I'm afraid we
won't now. It's half past two, and
"Don't say another word," interrupted Mr. Lyon. "I know what ye
mean. My hay's in the road. But don't let that worry ye none.
I'll pull out of your road in a jiffy, an' if we do go down in
th' ditch, why we can throw off part of th' load, lighten th'
wagon, an' pull out again. You've got t' hustle if ye git t'
Shopton by three o'clock."
"I can do it with a clear road," declared Tom, confidently.
"Then ye'll have th' clear road," Mr. Lyon assured him. "Come
boys, let's git th' hay t' one side."
The farmers pulled into the ditch. As they had feared the wagon
went in almost to the hubs, but they did not mind, and, even as
Tom and Mr. Damon shot past them, they fell to work tossing off
part of the fodder, to lighten the wagon. The young inventor and
his companion waved a grateful farewell to them as they fairly
tore past, for Tom had turned on almost the full current.
"Do you suppose that was the Happy Harry gang, or some members
of it who were not captured and sent to jail?" asked Mr. Damon.
"I don't believe so," answered the lad, shaking his head.
"Maybe they didn't really want to rob us. Perhaps they only
wanted to delay us so we wouldn't get to the bank on time."
"Bless my top knot, you may be right!" cried Mr. Damon.
Further conversation became difficult, as they struck a rough
part of the road, where the vehicle swayed and jolted to an
alarming degree. But Tom never slackened pace. On and on they
rushed, Mr. Damon frequently looking at his watch.
"We've got twenty minutes left," he remarked as they came out
on the smooth stretch of road, that led directly into Shopton.
Then Tom turned all the reserve power into the motor. The
machinery almost groaned as the current surged into the wires,
but it took up the load, and the electric car, swaying more than
ever, dashed ahead with its burden of wealth.
Now they were in the town, now speeding down the street leading
to the bank. One or two policemen shouted after them, for they
were violating the speed laws, but it was no time to stop for
that. On and on they dashed.
They came in sight of the bank. A long line of persons was
still in front. They seemed more excited than in the morning, for
the hour of three was approaching, and they feared the bank would
close its doors, never to open them again.
"The run is still on," observed Mr. Damon.
"But it will soon be over," predicted Tom.
Some news of the errand of the automobile must have penetrated
the crowd, for as Tom swung past the front entrance to the bank,
to go up the rear alley, he was greeted with a cheer.
"They're got the cash!" a man cried. "I'm satisfied now. I
don't draw out my deposit."
"I want to see the cash before I'll believe it," said another.
Tom slowed up to make the turn into the alley. As he did so he
glanced across the street to the new bank. In the window stood
Andy Foger and his father. There was a look of surprise on their
faces as they saw the arrival of the powerful car, and, Tom
fancied, also a look of chagrin.
Up the alley went the car, police keeping the crowd from
following. The porter was at the door. So, also, was Mr.
Pendergast and Mr. Swift, while some of the other officers were
grouped behind them.
"Did you get the money?" gasped the president.
"We did," answered Tom. "Are we on time, Dad?"
"Just on time, my boy! They're paying out the last of the cash
now! You're on time, thank fortune!"
From their task of handing out money to eager depositors, the
wearied tellers looked up as Tom and Mr. Damon entered with the
big valise crammed full of money. It was opened, and the bundles
of bills turned out on a table.
"Perhaps you'd better make an announcement to the crowd, Mr.
Pendergast," suggested Mr. Swift. "Tell them we now have cash
enough to meet all demands, and that the bank will be kept open
until every one is paid."
"I will," agreed the aged president. His announcement was
received with cheers, and had exactly the effect the inventor
hoped it would.
Many, learning that the bank was safe, and that they could have
their money whenever they wanted it, concluded not to withdraw
it, thus saving the interest. Scores in the waiting crowd turned
out of line and went home. Their example was contagious, and,
though many still remained to get their deposits, the run was
broken. Only part of the sixty thousand dollars Tom and Mr. Damon
had brought through after a race with time, was needed. But had
it not been for the moral effect of the cash arriving as it did,
the bank would have failed.
"You have a great car, Tom Swift," complimented Mr. Pendergast,
when the excitement had somewhat cooled down, and the story of
the hold-up had been told.
"I think so myself," agreed the young inventor modestly. "I
must get ready for the races now."
"And as for those farmers, I think I'll send them a reward,"
went on the president. "They deserve something for the trouble
they had with the load of hay. I certainly shall send them a
reward," which he did, and a substantial one, too.
Of course the hold-up was at once reported to the police after
the run had quieted down, but Chief Simonson surprised Tom by
saying that he had expected it.
"The gang that held you up," said the police officer, "was one
that escaped from a jail, about twenty miles away. I got a tip
after you left, that they were going to rob you, for, in some
way, they learned about the money you and Mr. Damon were to bring
from the bank. The unfortunate part of it was that the tip I got
was to the effect that the hold-up would take place just outside
of Clayton. I telephoned to the police there, just after you
left, and they said they'd send out a posse. But the gang changed
their plans; and held you up near here, where I wasn't expecting
it. But I'll get 'em yet."
Chief Simonson did not arrest the gang, but some other police
officers did, and they were taken back to jail. They were not
prosecuted for the attempted robbery of Tom, as it was considered
difficult to fix the guilt on them, but they received such a long
additional sentence for breaking jail, that it will be many years
before they are released.
When Tom reached home that night he found some mail from the
officials of the Touring Club of America. It was to the effect
that arrangements for the big contest had been completed, and
that contesting cars must be on the ground by September first.
"That gives me two weeks yet," thought our hero.
He read further of the regulations covering the race. Each car
must proceed from the home town or city of the owner, and go to
the track under its own power. This was a new regulation, it was
stated, and was adopted to better develop the industry of
building electric autos. Two passengers, or one in addition to
the driver, must be carried, it was stated, and this one would
also be expected to be in the car during the entire race.
Regarding the race proper it was stated that at first it had
been decided to make it a twenty-four hour endurance contest, but
that for certain reasons this was changed, as it was found that
few storage batteries could go this length of time without a
number of rechargings. Therefore the race was to be one for
distance--five hundred miles, on the new Long Island track, and
the car first covering that distance would win. Cars were allowed
to change their batteries as often as they needed to, but all
time lost would count against them. There were other rules and
regulations of minor importance.
"Well," remarked Tom, as he read through the circulars, "I must
get my car in shape. It will be quite a tip to Long Island, and I
think my best plan will be to go direct to the cottage we had
when we were building the submarine, and from there proceed to
the track. That will comply with the rules, I think. But who will
I get to go with me? I suppose Mr. Damon or Mr. Sharp will be
willing. I'll ask them."
He broached the matter to his two friends that night, and they
both agreed to go to Long Island in the car, though only Mr.
Sharp would accompany Tom in the race. The next two weeks were
busy ones for Tom. He worked night and day over his car, getting
it in shape for the big event.
The young inventor made some changes in his battery, and also
adopted a new gear, which would give greater speed. He also
completed the exterior of the auto, giving it several coats of
purple paint and varnish, so that when it was finished, though it
was different in shape from most autos, it was as fine an
appearing car as one could wish. He arranged to carry two extra
wheels, with tires inflated, and, under the rear seats, or
tonneau, as he called it, Tom fitted up a complete tire-repairing
outfit. Mr. Sharp agreed to ride there, and in case there was
need to use more than two spare wheels during the race, the
rubber shoes or inner tubes could be mended while the car was
swinging around the track.
Mr. Damon would ride in front with Tom on the cross-country
trip, and occasionally relieve him at steering, or would help to
manage the electrical connections. Spare fuses, extra parts,
wires and different things he thought he might need, the young
inventor stored in his car. He also found means to install a
small additional storage battery, to give added power in case of
Tom learned from the racing officials that if he made a trip
from Shopton to the cottage on the coast, near the city of
Atlantis, and later traveled from there to the track, it would
fulfill the conditions of the contest.
Finally all was in readiness, and one morning, having spent the
better part of the night going over his machine, to see that he
had forgotten nothing, Tom invited Mr. Damon and Mr. Sharp to
enter, and prepare for the trip to Long Island.
"Well, Tom, I certainly hope you win that race," remarked Mrs.
Baggert, as she stood in the doorway, waving a farewell.
"If I do I'll buy you a pair of diamond earrings to match the
diamond ring I gave you from the money I got from the wreck,"
promised the lad with a laugh.
"An' ef yo' sees dat Andy Foger," added Eradicate Sampson,
while he rubbed the long ears of Boomerang, his mule, "ef yo'
sees him, jest run ober him once or twice fer mah sake, Mistah
"I'll do it for my own, too," agreed Tom.
The youth shook hands with his father, who wished him good
luck, and then, after a final look at his car, he climbed to his
seat, and turned on the power. There was a low hum from the motor
and the electric started off. Would it return a winner or loser
of the big race?
Through the streets of Shopton went Tom Swift and his friends.
News of the big contest the young inventor was about to take part
in, had circulated around town, and there were not wanting many
to wish him good luck. The lad responded smilingly to the
farewells he received. As they passed the bank, Ned Newton came
out on the steps.
"Wish I was going along," he called.
"So do I," replied Tom. "How's everything? Is the bank all
right since the run?" for he had not had time to pay much
attention to the institution since his memorable race against
time, to get the money.
"Stronger and better than ever," was Ned's answer, as he came
to the curb, where Tom slowed up. "I hear," he added in a
whisper, "that the other fellows are going out of business--Foger
and his crowd you know. They loaned money on unsecured notes to
make a good showing, and now they can't get it back But we're all
right. Hope you win the race."
"So do I."
"What will a certain person do while you're away?" went on Ned,
with a wink.
"I don't know what you mean," replied Tom, trying not to blush.
"Do you mean my dad or Mrs. Baggert?"
"Neither, you old hypocrite you! I meant Miss Mary Nestor."
"Oh, hadn't you heard?" inquired Tom innocently. "She is going
to Long Island to visit some friends, and she'll be at the race."
"You lucky dog," murmured Ned with a laugh, as he went into the
Once more the electric auto started off, and was soon on the
quiet country road, where Tom speeded it up moderately. He hoped
to be able to make the entire distance to the shore cottage on
the single charge of current he had put into the battery at home,
and, as there was no special need for haste, he wanted to save
his power. The machine was running smoothly, and seemed able to
make a long race against time
The travelers ate lunch that day at Pendleton, a town some
distance from Shopton. They had covered a substantial part of
their trip. After a brief rest they started on again. Tom had
planned to spend two days and one night on the road, hoping to be
able to reach the shore cottage on the evening of the second day.
There, after recharging the battery, he would spend a night, or
two, and proceed to the track, ready for the race.
They found the roads fairly good, with bad stretches here and
there, which made it necessary for them to slow down. This
delayed them, and they found the shadows lengthening, and
darkness approaching, when they were still several miles from
Burgfield, where they intended to sleep.
"Will it be all right to travel at night?" asked Mr. Damon, a
bit nervously.
"Why, are you thinking of hold-up men?" inquired Mr. Sharp.
"No, but I was wondering about the condition of the roads,"
replied the eccentric man. "We don't want to run into a rock, or
collide with something."
"I guess this will light up the road far enough in advance, so
that we can see where we are going," suggested Tom, as he
switched on the powerful electric search-light. Though it was not
dark enough to illuminate the highway to the best advantage, the
powerful gleam shone dazzlingly in front of the swiftly moving
"I guess that will show up every pebble in the road," commented
the balloonist. It's very powerful."
Tom turned off the light, as, until it was darker, he could see
to better advantage unaided by it. He slowed down the speed
somewhat, but was still going at a good rate.
"There's a bridge somewhere about here," remarked the lad, when
they had gone on a mile further. I remember seeing it on my road
map. It's not very strong, and we'll have to run slow over it."
"Bless my gizzard, I hope we don't go through it!" cried Mr.
Damon. "Is your car very heavy, Tom?"
"Not heavy enough to break the bridge. Ah, there it is. Guess
I'll turn on the light so we can see what we're doing."
Just ahead of them loomed up the super-structure of a bridge,
and Tom turned the searchlight switch. At the instant he did so,
whether he did not keep a steady hand on the steering wheel, or
whether the auto went into a rut from which it could not be
turned, did not immediately develop, but the car suddenly shot
from the straight road, and swerved to one side. There was a
lurch, and the front wheels sank down.
"Look out! We're going into the river!" yelled Mr. Damon.
Tom jammed on the brakes and shut off the current. The auto
came to a sudden stop. The young inventor turned the searchlight
downward, to illuminate the ground directly in front of the car.
"Are we in the river?" asked Mr. Sharp.
"No," replied Tom in great chagrin. "We're in a muddy ditch.
One at the side of the road. Wheels in over the hubs! There
should have been a guard rail here. We're stuck for fair!"
"Bless my overshoes!" cried Mr. Damon. "Stuck in the mud, eh?"
"Hard and fast," added Tom, in disgust.
"What's to be done?" inquired Mr. Sharp.
"I should say we'll have to stay here until daylight, and wait
for some other auto to come along and pull us out," was Mr.
Damon's opinion. "It's might unpleasant, too, for there doesn't
seem to be any place around here where we can spend the night in
any kind of comfort. If we had the submarine or the airship, now,
it wouldn't so much matter."
"No, and this won't matter a great deal," remarked the young
inventor quickly. "We'll soon be out of this, but it will be hard
"What do you mean?" asked Mr. Sharp.
"I mean that we've got to pull ourselves out of this mud hole,"
explained the lad, as he prepared to descend. "I was afraid
something like this would happen, so I came prepared for it. I've
got ropes and pulleys with me, in the car. We'll fasten the rope
to the machine, attach one pulley to the bridge, another to the
car, and I guess we can get out of the mud. We'll try, anyhow."
"Well, I must say you looked pretty far ahead," complimented
Mr. Damon.
From a box under the tonneau Tom took out a thin but strong
rope and two compound pulleys, which would enable considerable
force to be applied. Mr. Sharp detached one of the powerful oil
lamps, and the three travelers took a look at the auto. It was
indeed deep in the mud and it seemed like a hopeless task to try
to get it out unaided. But Tom insisted that they could do it,
and the rope was soon attached, the hook of one pulley being
slipped around one of the braces of the bridge.
"Now, all together!" cried the lad, as he and his friends
grasped the long rope. They gave a great heave. At first it
seemed like pulling on a stone wall. The rope strained and the
pulleys creaked.
"I--guess--we--will--pull--the--bridge--over!" gasped Mr.
"Something's got to give way!" puffed Tom. "Now, once more! All
Suddenly they felt the rope moving. The pulleys creaked still
more and, by the light of the lamp, they could see that the auto
was slowly being pulled backward, out of the mud, and onto the
hard road. In a few minutes it was ready to proceed again.
The rope and pulleys were put away, and, after Tom had made an
examination of the car to see that it had sustained no damage,
they were off again, making good time to the hotel in Burgfield,
where they spent the night. They had an early breakfast, and, as
Tom went out to the barn to look at his car, he saw it surrounded
by a curious throng of men and boys. One of the boys was turning
some of the handles and levers.
"Here! Quit that!" yelled Tom, and the meddlesome lad leaped
down in fright. "Do you want to start the car and have it smash
into something?" demanded the young inventor.
"Aw, nothin' happened," retorted the lad. "I pulled every
handle on it, an' it didn't move.'~
"Good reason," murmured Tom, for he had taken the precaution to
remove a connecting plug, without which the machine could not be
The three were soon under way again, and covered many miles
over the fine country roads, the weather conditions being
delightful. On inquiry they found that by taking an infrequently
used highway, they could save several miles. It was over an
unoccupied part of country, rather wild and desolate, but they
did not mind that.
They were whizzing along, talking of Tom's chances for winning
the race when, after climbing a slight grade, the auto came to a
sudden stop on the summit.
"What's the matter?" asked Mr. Sharp. "Why are you stopping
here, Tom?"
"I didn't stop," was the surprising answer, and the lad shoved
the starting lever back and forth.
But there was no response. There was no hum from the motor. The
machine was "dead."
"That's queer," murmured the young inventor
"Maybe a fuse blew out," suggested Mr. Damon, that seeming to
be his favorite form of trouble.
"If it had you'd have known it," remarked Mr. Sharp.
"There's plenty of current in the battery, according to the
registering gauge, murmured the lad. "I can't understand it." He
reversed the current, thinking the wires might have become
crossed, but the machine would move neither backward nor forward,
yet the dial indicated that there was enough power stored away to
send it a hundred miles or more.
"Perhaps the dial hand has become caught," suggested Mr. Sharp.
"That sometimes happens on a steam gauge, and indicates a high
pressure when there isn't any. Hit it slightly, and see if the
hand swings back."
Tom did so. At once the hand fell to zero, indicating that
there was not an ampere of current left. The battery was
exhausted, but this fact had not been indicated on the gauge.
"I see now!" cried Tom. "It was those fellows at the hotel
barn! They monkeyed with the mechanism, short circuited the
battery, and jammed the gauge so I couldn't tell when my power
was gone. If I had known there wasn't enough to carry us I could
have recharged the battery at the hotel. But I figured that I had
enough current for the entire trip, and so there would have been,
if it hadn't leaked away. Now we're in a pretty pickle."
"Bless my hat band!" cried Mr. Damon. "Does that mean we can't
"Guess that's about it," answered Mr. Sharp, and Tom nodded.
"Well, why can't we go on to some place where they sell
electricity, and get enough to take us where we want to go?"
asked the odd character, whose ideas of machinery were somewhat
"The only trouble is we can't carry the heavy car with us,"
replied Tom. "It's too big to pick up and take to a charging
"Then we've got to wait until some one comes along with a team
of horses, and tows us in," commented Mr. Sharp. "And that will
be some time, on this lonely road."
Tom shook his head despondently. He went all over the car
again, but was forced to the first conclusion, that the reserve
current had leaked away, in consequence of the meddling prank of
the youth at the hotel. The situation was far from pleasant, and
the delay would seriously interfere with their plans.
Suddenly, as Tom was pacing up and down the road, he heard from
afar, a peculiar humming sound. He paused to listen.
"Trolley car," observed Mr. Sharp. "Maybe one of us could go
somewhere on the trolley and get help. There it is," and he
pointed to the electric vehicle, moving along about half a mile
away, at the foot of a gentle slope.
At the sight of the car Tom uttered a cry. "I have it!" he
exclaimed. "None of us need go for help! It's right at hand!"
His companions looked curiously, as the young inventor pointed
triumphantly to the fast disappearing electric.
"What do you mean?" asked Mr. Damon. "Will the electric trolley
pull us to a charging station?"
"No, we'll not need to go to a station," answered the youth.
"If we can get my car to the trolley tracks I can charge my
battery from there. And I think we can push the auto near enough.
It's down hill, and I've got a long wire so we won't have to go
too close."
"Good!" cried Mr. Sharp. "But attach the rope to the front of
the car, Tom. Mr. Damon and I will pull it. You'll have to ride
in it to steer it."
"We can take turns at riding," was Tom's answer, for he did not
want his companions to do all the work.
"Nonsense! You ride," said Mr. Damon. "You're lighter than we
are, and can steer better. It won't be any trouble at all to pull
this car down hill."
It proved to be an easy task, and in a short time the "dead"
auto was near enough to the electric line to permit Tom to run
his charging wire over to it.
"Why bless my soul!" exclaimed Mr. Damon, looking up. "There's
no overhead trolley wire. The car must run on storage batteries."
"Third rail, more likely," was the opinion of Mr. Sharp and so
it proved.
"I can charge from either the third rail or the trolley wire,"
declared Tom, who was insulating his hands in rubber gloves, and
getting his wires ready. In a short time he had the proper
connections made, and the much-needed current was soon flowing
into the depleted battery, or batteries, for there were several
sets, though the whole source of motive power was usually
referred to as a "storage battery."
"How long will it take?" asked Mr. Damon.
"About two hours," answered the lad. "We'll probably have to
disconnect our wires several times, whenever a trolley car comes
past. By my system I can recharge the battery very quickly.
"Do you suppose the owners of the road will make any
objection?" asked the balloonist.
"I'm going to pay for the current I use," explained the young
inventor. "I have a meter which tells how much I take."
The hum of an approaching car was heard, and Tom took the wires
from the third rail. The car came to a stop opposite the
automobile, the passengers, as well as the crew, looking
curiously at the queer racing machine. Tom explained to the
conductor what was going on, and asked the fare-collector to
notify those in charge of the power station that all current used
would be paid for. The conductor said this would be satisfactory,
he was sure, and the car proceeded, Tom resuming the charging of
his battery.
Allowing plenty of reserve power to accumulate, and making sure
that the gauge would not stick again, and deceive him, the owner
of the speedy electric was soon ready to proceed again. They had
been delayed a little over three hours, for they had to make
several shifts, as the cars came past.
They reached their shore cottage late that night, and, after
seeing that the runabout was safely locked in the big shed where
the submarine had been built, they all went to bed, for they were
very tired.
Tom sent word, the next day, to the managers of the race, that
he would be on hand at the time stipulated, and announced that he
had made part of the trip, as required, under the power of the
auto itself.
The next day was spent in overhauling the machinery, tightening
up some loose bearings, oiling different parts, and further
charging the battery. Tires were looked to, and the ones on the
spare wheels were gone over to prepare for any emergency that
might arise when the race was started.
On the third day, Tom, Mr. Sharp and Mr. Damon, leaving the
cottage completed the trip to Havenford, Long Island, where the
new track had been constructed.
They reached the place shortly before noon, and, if they had
been unaware of the location they could not have missed it, for
there were many autos speeding along the road toward the scene of
the race, which would take place the following day.
Several electric cars passed Tom and his friends, whizzing
swiftly by, but the young inventor was not going to show off his
speed until the time came. Besides, he did not want to run any
risks of an accident. But some of the contestants seemed anxious
for impromptu "brushes," and more than one called to our hero to
"speed up and let's see what she can do." But Tom smiled, and
shook his head.
There were many gasolene and some steam autos going out to the
new track, which was considered a remarkable piece of
engineering. It was in the shape of an octagon, and the turns
were considered very safe. It was a five mile track, and to
complete the race it would be necessary to make a hundred
Through scores of autos Tom and his friends threaded their way,
the young inventor keeping a watchful eye on the various types of
machine with which he would soon have to compete.
There were many kinds. Some were larger and some smaller than
his. Many obviously carried very large batteries, but whether
they had the speed or not was another question. Some, in spurts,
seemed to Tom, to be fully as fast as his own, and he began to
have some doubts whether he would win the race.
"But I'm not going to give up until the five hundredth mile is
finished," he thought, grimly.
They were now in sight of the track, and noted many machines
speeding around it.
"Go on in and try your car, Tom," urged Mr. Sharp.
"Yes, do," added Mr. Damon. "Let's see how it travels."
"I will, after I notify the proper officials that I have
arrived," decided the lad.
The formalities were soon complied with. Tom received his entry
card, after paying the fee, made affidavit that he had completed
the entire trip from home under his own power, save for the
little stretch when the car was pulled, which did not count
against him, and was soon ready to go on the track. Only electric
cars were allowed there.
As the young inventor guided his latest effort in the machine
line onto the big track there were murmurs of surprise from the
"That's a queer machine," said one.
"Yes, but it looks speedy," was another's opinion.
"There's the car for my money," added a third, pointing to a
big red electric which was certainly whizzing around the track.
Tom noted the red car. Behind it was a green one, also moving at
a fast rate of speed.
"Those will be my nearest rivals," thought the lad, as he
guided his car onto the track. A moment later he was sending the
auto ahead at moderate speed, while the other contestants looked
at the new arrival, as if trying to discover whether in it they
would have a dangerous competitor.
After making two circuits of the track at moderate speed, Tom
turned on more power, deciding to see how the machine would
behave on the turns, going at a fast speed. As it happened he
forged ahead just as the big red car was coming up behind him.
The driver of it took this for a challenge and threw his
controller handle forward.
"Come on!" he cried to our hero, when even with him.
Tom did not want to decline the invitation, and the impromptu
race was under way. Soon the green car came rushing up, and for
two miles the three kept almost in line. It was evident that
neither the green nor the red car drivers wanted to "open out,"
until they saw Tom do so.
He was willing to oblige them, and suddenly increased his
speed. They did the same, and went ahead of him. Then Tom turned
on a little more juice and got the lead, but the two men were
right after him, and they see-sawed like this for two more miles.
Then, with a cry the man in the red car, with a sudden burst of
speed, left Tom and the green car behind. The green car was soon
up to its rival, but Tom decided he would not spurt.
The lad and his friends spent the early part of the night in
making a final inspection of the machinery, finding it in good
order. Then, with his head filled with visions of the race on the
morrow Tom went to bed. He had made inquiries, by telephone, of
the friends of Miss Nestor, and learned that she had not arrived.
Tom felt a distinct sense of disappointment.
The day of the race could not have been better. It was ideal
weather, and conditions at the track were just right. Tom was up
early, and went over every inch of his car with a nervous dread
that he might find something the matter.
The final details of the race were completed, and the entrants
given their numbers and places. Tom drew a good position, not the
best, but he had no reason to complain. Half an hour before the
start he again telephoned to see if Miss Nestor had arrived, but
she had not, and it was with rather gloomy thoughts that the lad
entered his car, in which Mr. Sharp had already taken his place.
Mr. Damon went to the grandstand to watch the race.
"I wanted Mary to see me win," thought our hero, for he had
grimly set his mind on coming in ahead.
There was a great crowd in the grandstand and scattered about
the big track, which took in a large extent of territory. In
spite of its size--five miles around--it seemed solidly
packed for the entire length with autos, containing gay parties
who had come to see the electric contest. There was a band
playing gay airs, as Tom guided his machine through the entrance
gate, and onto the track.
The judges made their final inspection. There were twenty cars
entered, but it was obvious that some of them would not last
long, as their battery capacity was not large enough. Their
owners might have relied on recharging, but how they could do
this under the usual slow system, and hope to win, Tom could not
see. He hoped to run the entire distance on the single charge,
but, if by some accident part of his current should leak away,
his battery could be charged in a short time, by means of his new
system, to run for a considerable distance, or he could install a
new one already charged, for he had two sets on hand. Tom glanced
over the cars of his competitors. They were to be sent away in
batches, the affair being a handicap one, with time allowance for
the smaller powered cars. Tom noted that his car and the red and
the green ones were in the same bunch. Tom's car was purple.
"Are you all ready?" asked the starter of the first group of
"Ready," was the low-voiced response.
"Crack!" went the pistol, and there followed the hum of the
motors as the current set the mechanism to work. Forward went the
cars, amid the crash of the band and the cheers of the crowd. The
big race was under way.
"Do you feel nervous, Tom?" asked Mr. Sharp.
"Not a bit," replied the lad.
Around and around the track flew the speedy electrics. It was
evident that the holding of a meet solely for cars of this
character had brought out many new ideas that would be to the
benefit of the industry. Some cars were "freaks" and others, like
Tom's, showed a distinct advance over previous styles of
A five-hundred mile race around a track is rather a monotonous
affair, except for what happens, and things very soon began to
happen at this race.
As Tom had expected, several of the machines were forced to
withdraw. Tire troubles beset some, and others found that they
were hopelessly out of it because of low power, or lack of
battery capacity.
Tom determined not to let the red or the green car gain any
advantage over him, and so he watched those two vehicles
narrowly. On the other hand, the red and the green electrics were
evidently afraid of one another and of Tom.
They all three kept pretty much together for the first thirty
miles. By this time the race had settled down into a steady
grind. There was some excitement when the steering gear of one
car broke, and it crashed Into the fence, injuring the driver,
but the race went on.
The young inventor was holding his own with his two chief
rivals, and was feeling rather proud of his car, when there came
from it a report like a pistol shot.
"Blow out!" yelled Tom desperately, steering to one of the
several repair stations on the inner side of the track. "Be ready
with the extra wheel, Mr. Sharp!"
"Right you are!" cried the balloonist. The car was scarcely
stopped when he had leaped out, and had the lifting jack under
the left rear wheel, where the tire had gone to the bad. He and
Tom labored like Trojans to take off the wheel, and put on the
other. They lost five minutes, and when they got under way again
the red and the green cars were three quarters of a lap ahead.
"You've got to catch them!" declared Sharp firmly.
But the red and the green car drivers saw their advantage, and
were determined to hold it. Tom could not catch them without
going his limit, and he did not want to do this just yet.
However, he had his opportunity when about two hundred miles had
been covered. Both the red and the green cars had tire troubles,
but the red one was delayed scarcely two minutes as there was a
corps of mechanics on hand to take off the defective wheel and
put on another. Still Tom regained his lost ground, and once more
the race between those three cars was even.
In the rear of Tom's car Mr. Sharp was mending the blown-out
tire, though there was still one spare wheel on reserve. Tom, in
front, peered eagerly at the track. Nearly side by side raced the
red and the green cars, the latter somewhat to the rear.
It was at the three hundred and fiftieth mile that Tom had
another blow-out. This time it took a little longer to change the
wheel, and the red and green cars gained a full lap on him. The
track was now so dusty that it was difficult to see the
contesting cars. Many had dropped out, and more were on the verge
of giving up.
With the odds against him, Tom started in to regain the lost
ground. Narrowly he watched his electric power. Slowly he saw it
dropping. Would he have enough left to finish out the race? He
feared not. The hours were passing. Still there was a hundred
miles yet to go twenty circuits of the track. Some of the
spectators were getting weary and leaving. The band played
Suddenly Tom saw the red car shoot to one side of the track,
toward a charging station; The green car followed.
"That's our cue!" cried the young inventor "We need a little
more 'juice' and now is the time to get it."
The lad ran to the shed where his charging wires were, and they
were connected in a trice. He allowed twenty-five minutes for the
charging, as he knew with his improved battery he could get
enough current in that time to finish the contest. Before the red
and green car drivers had finished installing new batteries, for
they could not recharge as quickly as could our hero, Tom was on
the track again. But, in a little while, his two rivals were
after him.
It was now a spectacular race. Around and around swept the
three big cars. All the others were practically out of it. The
crowd became lively airs. Mile after mile was reeled off. The day
was passing. Tired and covered with dust from the track, Tom
still sat at the steering wheel.
"Two laps more!" cried Mr. Sharp, as the starter's pistol gave
this warning. "Can you get away from 'em, Tom?"
The red and the green cars were following closely. The young
inventor looked back and nodded. He turned on more power, almost
to the limit--that he was saving for the final spurt. But after
him still came the two big cars. Suddenly the red car shot ahead,
just as the last lap was beginning. The green tried to follow,
but there was a flash of fire, a loud report, and Tom knew a fuse
had blown out. There was no time for his rival to put in a new
one. The race was now between Tom and the red car. Could the lad
catch and pass it?
They were now only a mile from the finish. The red car was
three lengths ahead. With a quick motion Tom turned on the last
bit of power. There seemed to come a roar from his Motor and his
car shot ahead. It was on even terms with the red car when what
Tom had been fearing for the last five minutes happened. his fuse
blew out.
"Too bad! It's all up with us!" cried Mr. Sharp.
"No!" cried Tom in a ringing voice. "I've got an emergency fuse
ready!" He snapped a switch in place, putting into commission
another fuse. The motor that had lost speed began to pick it up
again. Tom had pulled back the controller handle, but he now
shoved it forward again, notch by notch, until it was at the
limit. He had fallen back from the red car, and the occupants of
that, with a yell of triumph, prepared to cross the line a
But, like a race horse that nerves himself for the last
desperate spurt, Tom's machine fairly leaped ahead. With his
hands gripping the rim of the steering wheel, until it seemed
that the bones of his fingers would protrude, Tom sent his car
straight for the finishing tape. There was a yell from the
spectators. Men were standing up, waving their hats and shouting.
Women were fairly screaming. Mr. Damon was blessing everything
within sight. Mr. Sharp, in his excitement, was pushing on the
back of the front seats as if to shove the car ahead.
Then, as the pistol announced the close of the race, Tom's car,
with what seemed a mighty leap, like a hunter clearing a ditch,
forged ahead, and crossed the line a length in advance of the red
car. Tom Swift had Won.
Amid the cheers of the crowd the lad slowed up, and, at the
direction of the judges, wheeled back to the stand, to receive
the prize. A certified check for three thousand dollars was
handed him, and he received the congratulations of the racing
officials. The driver of the red car also generously praised him.
"You won fair and square," he said, shaking hands with Tom.
The young inventor and his friends drove their car to their
shed. As Tom was descending, weary and begrimed with dust he
heard a voice asking:
"Mayn't I congratulate you also?"
He wheeled around, to confront Mary Nestor, immaculate in a
summer gown.
"Why--why," he stammered. "I--I thought you didn't come."
"Oh, yes I did," she answered, laughing. "I wouldn't have
missed it for anything. I arrived late, but I saw the whole race.
Wasn't it glorious. I'm so glad you won!" Tom was too, now, but
he shrank back when Miss Nestor held out both daintily gloved
hands to him. His hands were covered with oil and dirt.
"As if I cared for my gloves!" she cried, and she took
possession of his hands, a proceeding to which Tom was nothing
loath. "Are you going to race any more?" she asked, as he walked
along by her side, away from the gathering crowd.
"I don't know," he replied. "My car is speedier than I thought
it was. Perhaps I may enter it in other contests."
But what Tom Swift did later on will be told in another volume,
to be called, "Tom Swift and His Wireless Message; or, The
Castaways of Earthquake Island"--a strange tale of ship-wreck and
The run back home was made without incident, save for a broken
chain, easily repaired, the day following the race, and Tom later
received a number of invitations to give exhibitions of speed.
Several automobile manufacturers wanted to secure the rights to
his machine, but he said he desired to consider the matter before
acting. He did not forget his promise to Mrs. Baggert, regarding
the diamond earrings, and bought her the finest pair he could
"Come on, Mr. Sharp," proposed Tom, a week or so after the big
race, "let's go for a spin in the airship. I want to see how it
feels to be among the clouds once more," and they were soon
soaring aloft.
The new bank, started by Mr. Foger, did not flourish long. It
closed its doors in less than six months, but the old institution
was stronger than ever. Mr. Berg disappeared, and Tom never
learned whether the agent really was the man he had chased, and
whose watch charm he tore loose, though he always had his
suspicions. Nor did it ever develop who crossed the electric
wires, so that Tom was so nearly fatally shocked. Andy Foger
disliked our hero more than ever, and on several occasions caused
him not a little trouble, but Tom was able to look after himself.
This Isn't All!
Would you like to know what became of the good friends you have
made in this book?
Would you like to read other stories continuing their adventures
and experiences, or other books quite as entertaining by the same
On the reverse side of the wrapper which comes with this book,
you will find a wonderful list of stories which you can buy at
the same store where you got this book.
Don't throw away the Wrapper
Use it as a handy catalog of the books you want some day to have.
But in case you do mislay it, write to the Publishers for a
complete catalog.
Uniform Style of Binding. Individual Colored Wrappers,
Every Volume Complete in Itself.
Every boy possesses some form of inventive genius. Tom Swift is
a bright, ingenious boy and his inventions and adventures make
the most interesting kind of reading.
Individual Colored Wrappers and Text Illustrations by
Every Volume Complete in Itself.
In the company with his uncles, one a mighty hunter and the other
a noted scientist, Don Sturdy travels far and wide, gaining much
useful knowledge and meeting many thrilling adventures.
An engrossing tale of the Sahara Desert, of encounters with
wild animals and crafty Arabs.
Don's uncle, the hunter, took an order for some of the biggest
snakes to be found in South America--to be delivered alive!
A fascinating tale of exploration and adventure in the Valley
of Kings in Egypt.
A great polar blizzard nearly wrecks the airship of the
An absorbing tale of adventure among the volcanos of Alaska.
This story is just full of exciting and fearful experiences on
the sea.
A thrilling story of adventure in darkest Africa. Don is
carried over a mighty waterfall into the heart of gorilla land.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?