TOM SWIFT AND HIS WIRELESS MESSAGE OR THE CASTAWAYS OF EARTHQUAKE ISLAND
BY VICTOR APPLETON
AUTHOR OF "TOM SWIFT AND HIS MOTOR-CYCLE," "TOM SWIFT AND HIS MOTOR BOAT," "TOM SWIFT AND HIS AIRSHIP," "TOM SWIFT AND HIS SUBMARINE BOAT," "TOM SWIFT AND HIS ELECTRIC RUNABOUT," ETC.
BOOKS BY VICTOR APPLETON
THE TOM SWIFT SERIES
TOM SWIFT AND HIS MOTOR-CYCLE Or Fun and Adventures on the Road
TOM SWIFT AND HIS MOTOR-BOAT Or the Rivals of Lake Carlopa
TOM SWIFT AND HIS AIRSHIP Or the Stirring Cruise of the Red Cloud
TOM SWIFT AND HIS SUBMARINE BOAT Or Under the Ocean for Sunken Treasure
TOM SWIFT AND HIS ELECTRIC RUNABOUT Or the Speediest Car on the Road
TOM SWIFT AND HIS WIRELESS MESSAGE Or the Castaways of Earthquake Island
TOM SWIFT AMONG THE DIAMOND MAKERS Or the Secret of Phantom Mountain
TOM SWIFT IN THE CAVES OF ICE Or the Wreck of the Airship
TOM SWIFT AND HIS SKY RACER Or the Quickest Flight on Record
TOM SWIFT AND HIS ELECTRIC RIFLE Or Daring Adventures in Elephant Land
(Other Volumes in Preparation)
TOM SWIFT AND HIS WIRELESS MESSAGE
I. AN APPEAL FOR AID II. MISS NESTOR'S NEWS III. TOM KNOCKS OUT ANDY IV. MR. DAMON WILL GO ALONG V. VOL-PLANING TO EARTH VI. THE NEW AIRSHIP VII. MAKING SOME CHANGES VIII. ANDY FOGER'S REVENGE IX. THE WHIZZER FLIES X. OVER THE OCEAN XI. A NIGHT OF TERROR XII. A DOWNWARD GLIDE XIII. ON EARTHQUAKE ISLAND XIV. A NIGHT IN CAMP XV. THE OTHER CASTAWAY XVI. AN ALARMING THEORY XVII. A MIGHTY SHOCK XVIII. MR. JENKS HAS DIAMONDS XIX. SECRET OPERATIONS XX. THE WIRELESS PLANT XXI. MESSAGES INTO SPACE XXII. ANXIOUS DAYS XXIII. A REPLY IN THE DARK XXIV. "WE ARE LOST!" XXV. THE RESCUE-CONCLUSION
AN APPEAL FOR AID
Tom Swift stepped from the door of the machine shop, where he was at work making some adjustments to the motor of his airship, and glanced down the road. He saw a cloud of dust, which effectually concealed whatever was causing it.
"Some one must be in a hurry this morning," the lad remarked, "Looks like a motor speeding along. MY! but we certainly do need rain," he added, as he looked up toward the sky. "It's very dusty. Well, I may as well get back to work. I'll take the airship out for a flight this afternoon, if the wind dies down a bit."
The young inventor, for Tom Swift himself had built the airship, as well as several other crafts for swift locomotion, turned to re-enter the shop.
Something about the approaching cloud of dust, however, held his attention. He glanced more intently at it.
"If it's an automobile coming along," he murmured, "it's moving very slowly, to make so much fuss. And I never saw a motor-cycle that would kick up as much sand, and not speed along more. It ought to be here by now. I wonder what it can be?"
The cloud of highway dirt rolled along, making some progress toward Tom's house and the group of shops and other buildings surrounding it. But, as the lad had said, the dust did not move at all quickly in comparison to any of the speedy machines that might be causing it. And the cloud seemed momentarily to grow thicker and thicker.
"I wonder if it could be a miniature tornado, or a cyclone or whirlwind?" and Tom spoke aloud, a habit of his when he was thinking, and had no one to talk to. "Yet it can hardly be that." he went on. "Guess I'll watch and see what it is."
Nearer and nearer came the dust cloud. Tom peered anxiously ahead, a puzzled look on his face. A few seconds later there came from the midst of the obscuring cloud a voice, exclaiming:
"G'lang there now, Boomerang! Keep to' feet a-movin' an' we sho' will make a record. 'Tain't laik we was a autermobiler, er a electricity car, but we sho' hab been goin' sence we started. Yo' sho' done yo'se'f proud t'day, Boomerang, an' I'se gwine t' keep mah promise an' gib yo' de bestest oats I kin find. Ah reckon Massa Tom Swift will done say we brought dis yeah message t' him as quick as anybody could."
Then there followed the sound of hoofbeats on the dusty road, and the rattle of some many-jointed vehicle, with loose springs and looser wheels.
"Eradicate Sampson!" exclaimed Tom. "But who would ever think that the colored man's mule could get up such speed as that cloud of dust indicates. His mule's feet must be working overtime, but he goes backward about as often as he moves forward. That accounts for it. There's lots of dust, but not much motion."
Once more, from the midst of the ball-like cloud of dirt came the voice of the colored man:
"Now behave yo'se'f, Boomerang. We'm almost dere an' den yo' kin sit down an' rest if yo' laik. Jest keep it up a little longer, an' we'll gib Massa Tom his telephone. G'lang now, Boomerang."
The tattoo of hoofbeats was slowing up now, and the cloud of dust was not so heavy. It was gradually blowing away. Tom Swift walked down to the fence that separated the house, grounds and shops from the road. As he got there the sounds of the mule's progress, and the rattle of the wagon, suddenly ceased.
"G'lang! G'lang! Don't yo' dare t' stop now, when we am most dere!" cried Eradicate Sampson. "Keep a-movin', Boomerang!"
"It's all right, Eradicate. I'm here," called Tom, and when the last of the dust had blown away, the lad waved his hand to an aged colored man, who sat upon the seat of perhaps the most dilapidated wagon that was ever dignified by such a name. It was held together with bits of wire, rope and strings, and each of the four wheels leaned out at a different angle. It was drawn by a big mule, whose bones seemed protruding through his skin, but that fact evidently worried him but little, for now the animal was placidly sleeping, while standing up, his long ears moving slowly to and fro.
"Am dat yo', Massa Tom?" asked Eradicate, ceasing his task of jerking on the lines, to which operation the mule paid not the least attention.
"Yes, I'm here, Rad," replied Tom, smiling. "I came out of my shop to see what all the excitement was about. How did you ever get your mule to make so much dust?"
"I done promise him an extra helpin' ob oats ef he make good time," said the colored man. "An' he done it, too. Did yo' see de dust we made?"
"I sure did, but you didn't do much else. And you didn't make very good time. I watched you, and you came along like an ice wagon after a day's work on the Fourth of July. You were going fast, but moving slow."
"I 'spects we was, Massa Tom," was the colored man's answer. "But Boomerang done better dan I 'spected he would. I done tole him yo'd be in a hurry t' git yo' telephone, an' he sho' did trot along."
"My telephone?" repeated Tom, wonderingly. "What have you and your mule Boomerang to do with my telephone? That's up in the house."
"No, it ain't! it's right yeah in mah pocket," chuckled Eradicate, opening a ragged coat, and reaching for something. "I got yo' telephone right yeah." he went on. "De agent at de station see me dribin' ober dis way, an' he done ast he t' deliber it. He said as how he ain't got no messenger boy now, 'cause de one he done hab went on a strike fo' five cents mo' a day. So I done took de telephone," and with that the colored man pulled out a crumpled yellow envelope.
"Oh, you mean a telegram," said Tom, with a laugh, as he took the message from the odd colored man.
"Well, maybe it's telegraf, but I done understood de agent t' say telephone. Anyhow, dere it is. An' I s'pects we'd better git along, Boomerang."
The mule never moved, though Eradicate yanked on the reins, and used a splintered whip with energy.
"I said as how we'd better git along, Boomerang," went on the darkey, raising his voice, "Dinnah am mos' ready, an' I'm goin' t' giv yo' an extra helpin' ob oats."
The effect of these words seemed magical. The mule suddenly came to life, and was about to start off.
"I done thought dat would cotch yo', Boomerang," chuckled Eradicate.
"Wait a minute, Rad," called Tom, who was tearing open the envelope of the telegram. "I might want to send an answer back by you. I wonder who is wiring me now?"
He read the message slowly, and Eradicate remarked:
"'Taint no kind ob use, Massa Tom, fo' t' send a message back wif me."
"Why not?" asked the young inventor, looking up from the sheet of yellow paper.
"'Case as how I done promised Boomerang his airman, an' he won't do nothin' till he has it. Ef I started him back t' town now he would jest lay down in de road. I'll take de answer back fo' you dis arternoon."
"All right, perhaps that will do," assented Tom. "I haven't quite got the hang of this yet. Drop around this afternoon, Rad," and as the colored man, who, with his mule Boomerang, did odd jobs around the village, started off down the highway, in another cloud of dust, Tom Swift resumed the reading of the message.
"Hum, this is rather queer," he mused, when having read it once, he began at it again. "It must have cost him something to send all this over the wire. He could just as well have written it. So he wants my help, eh? Well, I never heard of him, and he may be all right, but I had other plans, and I don't know whether I can spare the time to go to Philadelphia or not. I'll have to think it over. An electric airship, eh? He's sort of following along the lines of my inventions. Wants my aid—hum—well, I don't know—"
Tom's musings were suddenly cut short by the approach of an elderly gentleman, who was walking slowly down the path that led from the house to the country highway which ran in front of it.
"A telegram, Tom?" asked the newcomer.
"Yes, dad," was the reply. "I was just coming in to ask your advice about it. Eradicate brought it to me."
"What, with his mule, Boomerang?" and the gentleman seemed much amused. "How did he ever get up speed enough to deliver a telegram?"
"Oh, Eradicate has some special means he uses on his mule when he's in a hurry. But listen to this message, dad. It's from a Mr. Hosmer Fenwick, of Philadelphia. He says:"
"'Tom Swift—Can you come on to Philadelphia at once and aid me in perfecting my new electric airship? I want to get it ready for a flight before some government experts who have promised to purchase several if it works well. I am in trouble, and I can't get it to rise off the ground. I need help. I have heard about your airship, and the other inventions you and your father have perfected, and I am sure you can aid me. I am stuck. Can you hurry to the Quaker City? I will pay you well. Answer at once!'"
"Well?" remarked Mr. Swift, questioningly, as his son finished reading the telegram. "What are you going to do about it, Tom?"
"I don't exactly know, dad. I was going to ask your advice. What would you do? Who is this Mr. Fenwick?"
"Well, he is an inventor of some note, but he has had many failures. I have not heard of him in some years until now. He is a gentleman of wealth, and can be relied upon to do just as he says. We are slightly acquainted. Perhaps it would be well to aid him, if you can spare the time. Not that you need the money, but inventors should be mutually helpful. If you feel like going to Philadelphia, and aiding him in getting his electric airship in shape, you have my permission."
"I don't know," answered Tom, doubtfully. "I was just getting my monoplane in shape for a little flight. It was nothing particular, though. Dad, I think I WILL take a run to Philadelphia, and see if I can help Mr. Fenwick. I'll wire him that I am coming, to-morrow or next day."
"Very well," assented Mr. Swift, and then he and his son went into one of the shops, talking of a new invention which they were about to patent.
Tom little knew what a strange series of adventures were to follow his decision to go to the Quaker City, nor the danger involved in aiding Mr. Fenwick to operate his electric airship.
MISS NESTOR'S NEWS
"When do you think you will go to Philadelphia, Tom?" asked Mr. Swift, a little later, as the aged inventor and his son were looking over some blueprints which Garret Jackson, an engineer employed by them, had spread out on a table.
"I don't exactly know," was the answer. "It's quite a little run from Shopton, because I can't get a through train. But I think I'll start tomorrow."
"Why do you go by train?" asked Mr. Jackson.
"Why—er—because—" was Tom's rather hesitating reply. "How else would I go?"
"Your monoplane would be a good deal quicker, and you wouldn't have to change cars," said the engineer. "That is if you don't want to take out the big airship. Why don't you go in the monoplane?"
"By Jove! I believe I will!" exclaimed Tom. "I never thought of that, though it's a wonder I didn't. I'll not take the RED CLOUD, as she's too hard to handle alone. But the BUTTERFLY will be just the thing," and Tom looked over to where a new monoplane rested on the three bicycle wheels which formed part of its landing frame. "I haven't had it out since I mended the left wing tip," he went on, "and it will also be a good chance to test my new rudder. I believe I WILL go to Philadelphia by the BUTTERFLY."
"Well, as long as that's settled, suppose you give us your views on this new form of storage battery," suggested Mr. Swift, with a fond glance at his son, for Tom's opinion was considered valuable in matters electrical, as those of you, who have read the previous books in this series, well know.
The little group in the machine shop was soon deep in the discussion of ohms, amperes, volts and currents, and, for a time, Tom almost forgot the message calling him to Philadelphia.
Taking advantage of the momentary lull in the activities of the young inventor, I will tell my readers something about him, so that those who have no previous introduction to him may feel that he is a friend.
Tom Swift lived with his father, Barton Swift, a widower, in the village of Shopton, New York. There was also in the household Mrs. Baggert, the aged housekeeper, who looked after Tom almost like a mother. Garret Jackson, an engineer and general helper, also lived with the Swifts.
Eradicate Sampson might also be called a retainer of the family, for though the aged colored man and his mule Boomerang did odd work about the village, they were more often employed by Tom and his father than by any one else. Eradicate was so called because, as he said, he "eradicated" the dirt. He did whitewashing, made gardens, and did anything else that was needed. Boomerang was thus named by his owner, because, as Eradicate said, "yo' nebber know jest what dat mule am goin' t' do next. He may go forward or he may go backward, jest laik them Australian boomerangs."
There was another valued friend of the family, Wakefield Damon by name, to whom the reader will be introduced in due course. And then there was Mary Nestor, about whom I prefer to let Tom tell you himself, for he might be jealous if I talked too much about her.
In the first book of this series, called "Tom Swift and His Motor-Cycle," there was told how he became possessed of the machine, after it had nearly killed Mr. Damon, who was learning to ride it. Mr. Damon, who had a habit of "blessing" everything from his collar button to his shoe laces, did not "bless" the motor-cycle after it tried to climb a tree with him; and he sold it to Tom very cheaply. Tom repaired it, invented some new attachments for it, and had a number of adventures on it. Not the least of these was trailing after a gang of scoundrels who tried to get possession of a valuable patent model belonging to Mr. Swift.
Our second book, called "Tom Swift and His Motor-Boat," related some exciting times following the acquisition by the young inventor of a speedy craft which the thieves of the patent model had stolen. In the boat Tom raced with Andy Foger, a town bully, and beat him. Tom also took out on pleasure trips his chum, Ned Newton, who worked in a Shopton bank, and the two had fine times together. Need I also say that Mary Nestor also had trips in the motor-boat? Besides some other stirring adventures in his speedy craft Tom rescued, from a burning balloon that fell into the lake, the aeronaut, John Sharp. Later Mr. Sharp and Tom built an airship, called the RED CLOUD, in which they had some strenuous times.
Their adventures in this craft of the air form the basis for the third book of the series, entitled "Tom Swift and His Airship." In the RED CLOUD, Tom and his friends, including Mr. Damon, started to make a record flight. They left Shopton the night when the bank vault was blown open, and seventy-five thousand dollars stolen.
Because of evidence given by Andy Foger, and his father, suspicion pointed to Tom and his friends as the robbers, and they were pursued. But they turned the tables by capturing the real burglars, and defeating the mean plans of the Fogers.
Not satisfied with having mastered the air Tom and his father turned their attention to the water. Mr. Swift perfected a new type of craft, and in the fourth book of the series, called "Tom Swift and His Submarine," you may read how he went after a sunken treasure. The party had many adventures, and were in no little danger from their enemies before they reached the wreck with its store of gold.
The fifth book of the series, named "Tom Swift and His Electrical Runabout," told how Tom built the speediest car on the road, and won a prize with it, and also saved a bank from ruin.
Tom had to struggle against odds, not only in his inventive work, but because of the meanness of jealous enemies, including Andy Foger, who seemed to bear our hero a grudge of long standing. Even though Tom had, more than once, thrashed Andy well, the bully was always seeking a chance to play some mean trick on the young inventor. Sometimes he succeeded, but more often the tables were effectually turned.
It was now some time since Tom had won the prize in his electric car and, in the meanwhile he had built himself a smaller airship, or, rather, monoplane, named the BUTTERFLY. In it he made several successful trips about the country, and gave exhibitions at numerous aviation meets; once winning a valuable prize for an altitude flight. In one trip he had met with a slight accident, and the monoplane had only just been repaired after this when he received the message summoning him to Philadelphia.
"Well, Tom," remarked his father that afternoon, "if you are going to the Quaker City, to see Mr. Fenwick to-morrow, you'd, better be getting ready. Have you wired him that you will come?"
"No, I haven't, dad," was the reply. "I'll get a message ready at once, and when Eradicate comes back I'll have him take it to the telegraph office."
"I wouldn't do that, Tom."
"Trust it to Eradicate. He means all right, but there's no telling when that mule of his may lie down in the road, and go to sleep. Then your message won't get off, and Mr. Fenwick may be anxiously waiting for it. I wouldn't like to offend him, for, though he and I have not met in some years, yet I would be glad if you could do him a favor. Why not take the message yourself?"
"Guess I will, dad. I'll run over to Mansburg in my electric car, and send the message from there. It will go quicker, and, besides, I want to get some piano wire to strengthen the wings of my monoplane."
"All right, Tom, and when you telegraph to Mr. Fenwick, give him my regards, and say that I hope his airship will be a success. So it's an electric one, eh? I wonder how it works? But you can tell me when you come back."
"I will, dad. Mr. Jackson, will you help me charge the batteries of my car? I think they need replenishing. Then I'll get right along to Mansburg."
Mansburg was a good-sized city some miles from the village of Shopton, and Tom and his father had frequent business there.
The young inventor and the engineer soon had the electric car in readiness for a swift run, for the charging of the batteries could be done in much less than the time usual for such an operation, owing to a new system perfected by Tom. The latter was soon speeding along the road, wondering what sort of an airship Mr. Fenwick would prove to have, and whether or not it could be made to fly.
"It's easy enough to build an airship," mused Tom, "but the difficulty is to get them off the ground, and keep them there." He knew, for there had been several failures with his monoplane before it rose like a bird and sailed over the tree-tops.
The lad was just entering the town, and had turned around a corner, twisting about to pass a milk wagon, when he suddenly saw, darting out directly in the path of his car, a young lady.
"Look out!" yelled Tom, ringing his electric gong, at the same time shutting off the current, and jamming on the powerful brakes.
There was a momentary scream of terror from the girl, and then, as she looked at Tom, she exclaimed:
"Why, Tom Swift! What are you trying to do? Run me down?"
"Mary—Miss Nestor!" ejaculated our hero, in some confusion.
He had brought his car to a stop, and had thrown open the door, alighting on the crossing, while a little knot of curious people gathered about.
"I didn't see you," went on the lad. "I came from behind the milk wagon, and—"
"It was my fault," Miss Nestor hastened to add. "I, too, was waiting for the milk wagon to pass, and when it got out of my way, I darted around the end of it, without looking to see if anything else was coming. I should have been more careful, but I'm so excited that I hardly know what I'm doing."
"Excited? What's the matter?" asked Tom, for he saw that his friend was not her usual calm self. "Has anything happened, Mary?"
"Oh, I've such news to tell you!" she exclaimed.
"Then get in here, and we'll go on." advised Tom. "We are collecting a crowd. Come and take a ride; that is if you have time."
"Of course I have," the girl said, with a little blush, which Tom thought made her look all the prettier. "Then we can talk. But where are you going?"
"To send a message to a gentleman in Philadelphia, saying that I will help him out of some difficulties with his new electric airship. I'm going to take a run down there in my monoplane, BUTTERFLY, to-morrow, and—"
"My! to hear you tell it, one would think it wasn't any more to make an airship flight than it was to go shopping," interrupted Mary, as she entered the electric car, followed by Tom, who quickly sent the vehicle down the street.
"Oh, I'm getting used to the upper air," he said. "But what is the news you were to tell me?"
"Did you know mamma and papa had gone to the West Indies?" asked the girl.
"No! I should say that WAS news. When did they go? I didn't know they intended to make a trip."
"Neither did they; nor I, either. It was very sudden. They sailed from New York yesterday. Mr. George Hosbrook, a business friend of papa's, offered to take them on his steam yacht, RESOLUTE. He is making a little pleasure trip, with a party of friends, and he thought papa and mamma might like to go."
"He wired to them, they got ready in a rush, caught the express to New York, and went off in such a hurry that I can hardly realize it yet. I'm left all alone, and I'm in such trouble!"
"Well, I should say that was news," spoke Tom.
"Oh, you haven't heard the worst yet," went on Mary. "I don't call the fact that papa and mamma went off so suddenly much news. But the cook just left unexpectedly, and I have invited a lot of girl friends to come and stay with me, while mamma and papa are away; and now what shall I do without a cook? I was on my way down to an intelligence office, to get another servant, when you nearly ran me down! Now, isn't that news?"
"I should say it was—two kinds," admitted Tom, with a smile. "Well, I'll help you all I can. I'll take you to the intelligence office, and if you can get a cook, by hook or by crook, I'll bundle her into this car, and get her to your house before she can change her mind. And so your people have gone to the West Indies?"
"Yes, and I wish I had the chance to go."
"So do I," spoke Tom, little realizing how soon his wish might be granted. "But is there any particular intelligence office you wish to visit?"
"There's not much choice," replied Mary Nestor, with a smile, "as there's only one in town. Oh. I do hope I can get a cook! It would be dreadful to have nothing to eat, after I'd asked the girls to spend a month with me; wouldn't it?"
Tom agreed that it certainly would, and they soon after arrived at the intelligence office.
TOM KNOCKS OUT ANDY
"Do you want me to come in and help you?" asked the young inventor, of Miss Nestor.
"Do you know anything about hiring a cook?" she inquired, with an arch smile.
"I'm afraid I don't," the lad was obliged to confess.
"Then I'm a little doubtful of your ability to help me. But I'm ever so much obliged to you. I'll see if I can engage one. The cook who just left went away because I asked her to make some apple turnovers. Some of the girls who are coming are very fond of them."
"So am I," spoke Tom, with a smile.
"Are you, indeed? Then, if the cook I hope to get now will make them, I'll invite you over to have some, and—also meet my friends."
"I'd rather come when just you, and the turnovers and the cook are there," declared Tom, boldly, and Mary, with a blush, made ready to leave the electric car.
"Thank you," she said, in a low voice.
"If I can't help you select a cook," went on Tom, "at least let me call and take you home when you have engaged one."
"Oh, it will be too much trouble," protested Miss Nestor.
"Not at all. I have only to send a message, and get some piano wire, and then I'll call back here for you. I'll take you and the new cook back home flying."
"All right, but don't fly so fast. The cook may get frightened, and leave before she has a chance to make an apple turnover."
"I'll go slower. I'll be back in fifteen minutes," called Tom, as he swung the car out away from the curb, while Mary Nestor went into the intelligence office.
Tom wrote and sent this message to Mr. Hostner Fenwick, of Philadelphia:
"Will come on to-morrow in my aeroplane, and aid you all I can. Will not promise to make your electric airship fly, though. Father sends regards."
"Just rush that, please," he said to the telegraph agent, and the latter, after reading it over, remarked:
"It'll rush itself, I reckon, being all about airships, and things like that," and he laughed as Tom paid him.
Selecting several sizes of piano wire of great strength, to use as extra guy-braces on the Butterfly, Tom re-entered his electric car, and hastened back to the intelligence office, where he had left his friend. He saw her standing at the front door, and before he could alight, and go to her, Miss Nestor came cut to meet him.
"Oh, Tom!" she exclaimed, with a little tragic gesture, "what do you think?"
"I don't know," he answered good-naturedly. "Does the new cook refuse to come unless you do away with apple turnovers?"
"No, it isn't that. I have engaged a real treasure, I'm sure, but as soon as I mentioned that you would take us home in the electric automobile, she flatly refused to come. She said walking was the only way she would go. She hasn't been in this country long. But the worst of it is that a rich woman has just telephoned in for a cook, and if I don't get this one away, the rich lady may induce her to come to her house, and I'll be without one! Oh, what shall I do?" and poor Mary looked quite distressed.
"Humph! So she's afraid of electric autos; eh?" mused Tom. "That's queer. Leave it to me, Mary, and perhaps I can fix it. You want to get her away from here in a hurry; don't you?"
"Yes, because servants are so scarce, that they are engaged almost as soon as they register at the intelligence office. I know the one I have hired is suspicious of me, since I have mentioned your car, and she'll surely go with Mrs. Duy Puyster when she comes. I'm sorry I spoke of the automobile."
"Well, don't worry. It's partly my fault, and perhaps I can make amends. I'll talk to the new cook," decided the young inventor.
"Oh, Tom, I don't believe it will do any good. She won't come, and all my girl friends will arrive shortly." Miss Nestor was quite distressed.
"Leave it to me," suggested the lad, with an assumed confidence he did not feel. He left the car, and walked toward the office. Entering it, with Miss Nestor in his wake, he saw a pleasant-faced Irish girl, sitting on a bench, with a bundle beside her.
"And so you don't want to ride in an auto?" began Tom.
"No, an' it's no use of the likes of you askin' me, either," answered the girl, but not impudently. "I am afeered of thim things, an' I won't work in a family that owns one."
"But we don't own one," said Mary.
The girl only sniffed.
"It is the very latest means of traveling," Tom went on, "and there is absolutely no danger. I will drive slowly."
"No!" snapped the new cook.
Tom was rather at his wits' ends. At that moment the telephone rang, and Tom and Mary, listening, could hear the proprietress of the intelligence office talking to Mrs. Duy Puyster over the wire.
"We must get her away soon," whispered Mary, with a nod at the Irish girl, "or we'll lose her."
Tom was thinking rapidly, but no plan seemed to come to him. A moment later one of the assistants of the office led out from a rear room another Irish girl,—who, it seems, had just engaged herself to work in the country.
"Good-by, Bridget," said this girl, to the one Mary Nestor had hired. "I'm off now. The carriage has just come for me. I'm goin' away in style."
"Good luck, Sarah," wished Bridget.
Tom looked out of the window. A dilapidated farm wagon, drawn by two rusty-looking horses, just drawing up at the curb.
"There is your employer, Sarah," said the proprietress of the office. "You will have a nice ride to the country and I hope you will like the place."
A typical country farmer alighted from the wagon, leaving a woman, evidently his wife, or the seat. He called out:
"I'll git th' servant-gal, 'Mandy, an' we'll drive right out hum. Then you won't have such hard work any more."
"An' so that's the style you was tellin' me of; eh, Sarah?" asked the cook whom Miss Nestor had engaged. "That's queer style, Sarah."
Sarah was blushing from shame and mortification. Tom was quick to seize the advantage thus offered.
"Bridget, if YOU appreciate style," he said, "you will come in the automobile. I have one of the very latest models, and it is very safe. But perhaps you prefer a farm wagon."
"Indade an' I don't!" was the ready response. "I'll go wid you now if only to show Sarah Malloy thot I have more style than her! She was boastin' of the fine place she had, an' th' illigant carriage that was comin' t' take her to the counthry. If that's it I want none of it! I'll go wid you an' th' young gintleman. Style indade!" and, gathering up her bundle she followed Tom and Mary to the waiting auto.
They entered it and started off, just as Mrs. Duy Puyster drove up in her elegantly appointed carriage, while Sarah, with tears of mortification in her eyes, climbed up beside the farmer and his wife.
"You saved the day for me, Tom," whispered Miss Nestor, as the young inventor increased the speed of his car. "It was only just in time."
"Don't forget the apple turnovers," he whispered back.
Once she had made the plunge, the new cook seemed to lose her fears of the auto, and enjoyed the ride. In a short time she had been safely delivered at Miss Nestor's home, while that young lady repeated her thanks to Tom, and renewed her invitation for him to come and sample the apple turnovers, which Tom promised faithfully to do, saying he would call on his return from Philadelphia.
Musing on the amusing feature of his trip, Tom was urging his auto along at moderate speed, when, as he turned down a country road, leading to his home, he saw, coming toward him, a carriage, drawn by a slow-moving, white horse, and containing a solitary figure.
"Why, that looks like Andy Foger," spoke Tom, half aloud. "I wonder what he's doing out driving? His auto must be out of commission. But that's not strange, considering the way he abuses the machine. It's in the repair shop half the time."
He slowed down still more, for he did not know but that Andy's horse might be skittish. He need have no fears, however, for the animal did not seem to have much more life than did Eradicate's mule, Boomerang.
As Tom came nearer the carriage, he was surprised to see Andy deliberately swing his horse across the road, blocking the highway by means of the carriage and steed.
"Well, Andy Foger, what does that mean?" cried Tom, indignantly, as he brought his car to a sudden stop. "Why do you block the road?"
"Because I want to," snarled the bully, taking out a notebook and pencil, and pretending to make some notes about the property in front of which he had halted. "I'm in the real estate business now," went on Andy, "and I'm getting descriptions of the property I'm going to sell. Guess I've got a right to stop in the road if I want to!"
"But not to block it up," retorted Tom. "That's against the law. Pull over and let me pass!"
"Suppose I don't do it?"
"Then I'll make you!"
"Huh! I'd like to see you try it!" snapped Andy. "If you make trouble for me, it will be the worse for you."
"If you pull to one side, so I can pass, there'll be no trouble," said Tom, seeing that Andy wished to pick a quarrel.
"Well, I'm not going to pull aside until I finish putting down this description," and the bully continued to write with tantalizing slowness.
"Look here!" exclaimed Tom Swift, with sudden energy. "I'm not going to stand for this! Either you pull to one side and let me pass, or—"
"Well, what will you do?" demanded the bully.
"I'll shove you to one side, and you can take the consequences!"
"You won't dare to!"
"I won't, eh? Just you watch."
Tom threw forward the lever of his car. There was a hum of the motor, and the electric moved ahead. Andy had continued to write in the book, but at this sound he glanced up.
"Don't you dare to bunk into me!" yelled Andy. "If you do I'll sue you for damages!"
"Get out of the way, or I'll shove you off the road!" threatened Tom, calmly.
"I'll not go until I get ready."
"Oh, yes you will," responded our hero quietly. He sent his car ahead slowly but surely. It was within a few feet of the carriage containing Andy. The bully had dropped his notebook, and was shaking his fist at Tom.
As for the young inventor he had his plans made. He saw that the horse was a quiet, sleepy one, that would not run away, no matter what happened, and Tom only intended to gently push the carriage to one side, and pass on.
The front of his auto came up against the other vehicle.
"Here, you stop!" cried Andy, savagely.
"It's too late now," answered Tom, grimly.
Andy reached for the horsewhip. Tom put on a little more power, and the carriage began to slide across the road, but the old horse never opened his eyes.
"Take that!" cried Andy, raising his whip, with the intention of slashing Tom across the face, for the front of the auto was open. But the blow never fell, for, the next instant, the carriage gave a lurch as one of the wheels slid against a stone, and, as Andy was standing up, and leaning forward, he was pitched head first out into the road.
"By Jove! I hope I haven't hurt him!" gasped Tom, as he leaped from his auto, which he had brought to a stop.
The young inventor bent over the bully. There was a little cut on Andy's forehead, and his face was white. He had been most effectually knocked out entirely by his own meanness and fault, but, none the less, Tom was frightened. He raised up Andy's head on his arm, and brushed back his hair. Andy was unconscious.
MR. DAMON WILL GO ALONG
At first Tom was greatly frightened at the sight of Andy's pale face. He feared lest the bully might be seriously hurt. But when he realized that the fall from the carriage, which was a low one, was not hard, and that Andy had landed on his outstretched hands before his head came in contact with the earth, our hero was somewhat reassured.
"I wish I had some water, with which to bathe his head," Tom murmured, and he looked about in vain for some. But it was not needed, for, a moment later, Andy opened his eyes, and, when he saw Tom bending over, and holding him, the bully exclaimed:
"Here! You let me go! Don't you hit me again, Tom Swift, or I'll punch you!"
"I didn't hit you," declared Tom, while Andy tore himself away, and struggled to his feet.
"Yes, you did, too, hit me!"
"I did not! You tried to strike me with your whip, as I was shoving your carriage out of the way, which I had a perfect right to do, as you were blockading the highway. You lost your balance and fell. It was your own fault."
"Well, you'll suffer for it, just the same, snarled Andy, and then, putting his hand to his head, and bringing it away, with some drops of blood on it, he cried out:"
"Oh, I'm hurt! I'm injured! Get a doctor, or maybe I'll bleed to death!" He began blubbering, for Andy, like all bullies, was a coward.
"You're not hurt," asserted Tom, trying not to laugh. "It's only a scratch. Next time don't try to blockade the whole street, and you won't get into trouble. Are you able to drive home; or shall I take you in my car?"
"I wouldn't ride in your car!" snapped the ugly lad. "You go on, and mind your business now, and I'll pay you back for this, some day. I could have you arrested!"
"And so could I have you locked up for obstructing traffic. But I'll not. Your rig isn't damaged, and you'd better drive home."
The old white horse had not moved, and was evidently glad of the rest. A glance satisfied Tom that the carriage had not been damaged, and, getting into his car, while Andy was brushing the dust from his clothes, our hero started the motor.
There was now room enough to pass around the obstructing carriage, and soon Tom was humming down the road, leaving a much discomfited bully behind him.
"Tom Swift is too smart—thinking he can run everybody, and everything, to suit himself," growled Andy, as he finished dusting off his clothes, and wiping the blood from his face. As Tom had said, the wound was but a scratch, though the bully's head ached, and he felt a little dizzy. "I wish I'd hit him with the horsewhip," he went on, vindictively. "I'll get square with him some day."
Andy had said this many times, but he had never yet succeeded in permanently getting the best of Tom. Pondering on some scheme of revenge the rich lad—for Mr. Foger, his father, was quite wealthy—drove on.
Meanwhile Tom, rather wishing the little encounter had not taken place, but refusing to blame himself for what had occurred, was speeding toward home.
"Let's see," he murmured, as he drove along in his powerful car. "I've got quite a lot to do if I make an early start for Philadelphia, in my airship, to-morrow. I want to tighten the propeller on the shaft a trifle, and give the engine a good try-out. Then, too, I think I'd better make the landing springs a little stiffer. The last time I made a descent the frame was pretty well jarred up. Yes, if I make that air trip to-morrow I'll have to do some tall hustling when I get home."
The electric runabout swung into the yard of the Swift house, and Tom brought it to a stop opposite the side door. He looked about for a sight of his father, Mrs. Baggert or Garret Jackson. The only person visible was Eradicate Sampson, working in the garden.
"Hello, Rad," called Tom. "Anybody home?"
"Yais, Massa Tom," answered the colored man. "Yo' dad an' anodder gen'mans hab jest gone in de house."
"Who's the other gentleman, Rad?" asked Tom, and the negro, glad of an excuse to cease the weeding of the onion bed, came shuffling forward.
"It's de gen'mans what is allers saying his prayers," he answered.
"Saying his prayers?" repeated Tom.
"Yep. Yo' knows what I means, Massa Tom. He's allers askin' a blessin' on his shoes, or his rubbers, or his necktie."
"Oh, you mean Mr. Wakefield Damon."
"Yais, sah, dat's who I done means. Mr. Wakefull Lemon—dat's sho' him."
At that moment there sounded, within the house, the voices of Mr. Swift, and some one else in conversation.
"And so Tom has decided to make a run to the Quaker City in the BUTTERFLY, to-morrow," Mr. Swift was saying, "and he's going to see if he can be of any service to this Mr. Fenwick."
"Bless my watch chain!" exclaimed the other voice. "You don't say so! Why I know Mr. Fenwick very well—he and I used to go to school together, but bless my multiplication tables—I never thought he'd amount to anything! And so he's built an airship; and Tom is going to help him with it? Why, bless my collar button, I've a good notion to go along and see what happens. Bless my very existence, but I think I will!"
"That's Mr. Damon all right," observed Tom, with a smile, as he advanced toward the dining-room, whence the voices proceeded.
"Dat's what I done tole you!" said Eradicate, and, with slow and lagging steps he went back to weed the onion bed.
"How are you, Mr. Damon," called our hero, as he mounted the steps of the porch.
"Why, it's Tom—he's back!" exclaimed the eccentric man. "Why, bless my shoe laces, Tom! how are you? I'm real glad to see you. Bless my eyeglasses, but I am! I just returned from a little western trip, and I thought I'd ran over and see how you are. I came in my car—had two blowouts on the way, too. Bless my spark plug, but the kind of tires one gets now-a-days are a disgrace! However, I'm here, and your father has just told me about you going to Philadelphia in your monoplane, to help a fellow-inventor with his airship. It's real kind of you. Bless my topknot if it isn't! Do you know what I was just saying?"
"I heard you mention that you knew Mr. Fenwick," replied Tom, with a smile, as he shook hands with Mr. Damon.
"So I do, and, what's more, I'd like to see his airship. Will your BUTTERFLY carry two passengers?"
"Easily. Mr. Damon."
"Then I'll tell you what I'm going to do. If you'll let me I'll take that run to Philadelphia with you!"
"Glad to have you come along," responded Tom, heartily.
"Then I'll go, and, what's more, if Fenwick's ship will rise, I'll go with you in that—bless my deflection rudder if I don't, Tom!" and puffing top his cheeks, as he exploded these words, Mr. Damon fairly raised himself on his tiptoes, and shook Tom's hand again.
VOL-PLANING TO EARTH
For a moment after Mr. Damon's announcement Tom did not reply. Mr. Swift, too, seemed a little at a loss for something to say. They did not quite know how to take their eccentric friend at times.
"Of course I'll be glad of your company, Mr. Damon," said Tom: "but you must remember that my BUTTERFLY is not like the RED CLOUD. There is more danger riding in the monoplane than there is in the airship. In the latter, if the engine happens to stop, the sustaining gas will prevent us from falling. But it isn't so in an aeroplane. When your engine stops there—"
"Well, what happens?" asked Mr. Damon, impatiently, for Tom hesitated.
"You have to vol-plane back to earth."
"Vol-plane?" and there was a questioning note in Mr. Damon's voice.
"Yes, glide down from whatever height you are at when the engine stalls. Come down in a series of dips from the upper currents. Vol-planing, the French call it, and I guess it's as good a word as any."
"Have you ever done it?" asked the odd character.
"Oh, yes, several times."
"Then, bless my fur overcoat! I can do it, too, Tom. When will you be ready to start?"
"To-morrow morning. Now you are sure you won't get nervous and want to jump, if the engine happens to break down?"
"Not a bit of it. I'll vol-plane whenever you are ready," and Mr. Damon laughed.
"Well, we'll hope we won't have to," went on Tom. "And I'll be very glad of your company. Mr. Fenwick will, no doubt, be pleased to see you. I've never met him, and it will be nice to have some one to introduce me. Suppose you come out and see what sort of a craft you are doomed to travel in to-morrow, Mr. Damon. I believe you never saw my new monoplane."
"That's right, I haven't, but I'd be glad to. I declare, I'm getting to be quite an aviator," and Mr. Damon chuckled. A little later, Tom, having informed his father of the sending of the message, took his eccentric friend out to the shop, and exhibited the BUTTERFLY.
As many of you have seen the ordinary monoplane, either on exhibition or in flight, I will not take much space to describe Tom's. Sufficient to say it was modeled after the one in which Bleriot made his first flight across the English channel.
The body was not unlike that of a butterfly or dragon fly, long and slender, consisting of a rectangular frame with canvas stretched over it, and a seat for two just aft of the engine and controlling levers. Back of the seat stretched out a long framework, and at the end was a curved plane, set at right angles to it. The ends of the plane terminated in flexible wings, to permit of their being bent up or down, so as to preserve the horizontal equilibrium of the craft.
At the extreme end was the vertical rudder, which sent the monoplane to left or right.
Forward, almost exactly like the front set of wings of the dragon fly, was the large, main plane, with the concave turn toward the ground. There was the usual propeller in front, operated by a four cylinder motor, the cylinders being air cooled, and set like the spokes of a wheel around the motor box. The big gasolene tank, and other mechanism was in front of the right-hand operator's seat, where Tom always rode. He had seldom taken a passenger up with him, though the machine would easily carry two, and he was a little nervous about the outcome of the trip with Mr. Damon.
"How do you like the looks of it?" asked the young inventor, as he wheeled the BUTTERFLY out of the shed, and began pumping up the tires of the bicycle wheels on which it ran over the ground, to get impetus enough with which to rise.
"It looks a little frail, compared to the big RED CLOUD, Tom," answered the eccentric man, "but I'm going up in her just the same; bless my buttons if I'm not."
Tom could not but admire the grit of his friend.
The rest of the day was busily spent making various adjustments to the monoplane, putting on new wire stays, changing the rudder cables, and tuning up the motor. The propeller was tightened on the shaft, and toward evening Tom announced that all was in readiness for a trial flight.
"Want to come, Mr. Damon?" he asked.
"I'll wait, and see how it acts with you aboard," was the answer. "Not that I'm afraid, for I'm going to make the trip in the morning, but perhaps it won't work just right now."
"Oh, I guess it will," ventured Tom, and in order to be able to know just how his BUTTERFLY was going to behave, with a passenger of Mr. Damon's weight, the young inventor placed a bag of sand on the extra seat.
The monoplane was then wheeled to the end of the starting ground. Tom took his place in the seat, and Mr. Jackson started the propeller. At first the engine failed to respond, but suddenly with a burst of smoke, and a spluttering of fire the cylinders began exploding. The hat of Mr. Damon, who was standing back of the machine, was blown off by the wind created by the propeller.
"Bless my gaiters!" he exclaimed, "I never thought it was as strong as that!"
"Let go!" cried Tom to Mr. Jackson and Eradicate, who were holding back the monoplane from gliding over the ground.
"All right," answered the engineer.
An instant later the explosions almost doubled, for Tom turned on more gasolene. Then, like some live thing, the BUTTERFLY rushed across the starting ground. Faster and faster it went, until the young inventor, knowing that he had motion enough, tilted his planes to catch the wind.
Up he went from earth, like some graceful bird, higher and higher, and then, in a big spiral, he began ascending until he was five hundred feet in the air. Up there he traveled back and forth, in circles, and in figure eights, desiring to test the machine in various capacities.
Suddenly the engine stopped, and to those below, anxiously watching, the silence became almost oppressive, for Tom had somewhat descended, and the explosions had been plainly heard by those observing him. But now they ceased!
"His engine's stalled!" cried Garret Jackson.
Mr. Swift heard the words, and looked anxiously up at his son.
"Is he in any danger?" gasped Mr. Damon.
No one answered him. Like some great bird, disabled in mid flight, the monoplane swooped downward. A moment later a hearty shout from Tom reassured them.
"He shut off the engine on purpose," said Mr. Jackson. "He is vol-planing back to earth!"
Nearer and nearer came the BUTTERFLY. It would shoot downward, and then, as Tom tilted the planes, would rise a bit, losing some of the great momentum. In a series of maneuvers like this, the young inventor reached the earth, not far from where his father and the others stood. Down came the BUTTERFLY, the springs of the wheel frame taking the shock wonderfully well.
"She's all right—regular bird!" cried Tom, in enthusiasm, when the machine had come to a stop after rolling over the ground, and he had leaped out. "We'll make a good flight to-morrow, Mr. Damon, if the weather holds out this way."
"Good!" cried the eccentric man. "I shall be delighted."
They made the start early the next morning, there being hardly a breath of wind. There was not a trace of nervousness noticeable about Mr. Damon, as he took his place in the seat beside Tom. The lad had gone carefully over the entire apparatus, and had seen to it that, as far as he could tell, it was in perfect running order.
"When will you be back, Tom?" asked his father.
"To-night, perhaps, or to-morrow morning. I don't know just what Mr. Fenwick wants me to do. But if it is anything that requires a long stay, I'll come back, and let you know, and then run down to Philadelphia again. I may need some of my special tools to work with. I'll be back to-night perhaps."
"Shall I keep supper for you?" asked Mrs. Baggert, the housekeeper.
"I don't know," answered Tom, with a laugh. "Perhaps I'll drop down at Miss Nestor's, and have some apple turnovers," for he had told them or the incident of hiring the new cook. "Well," he went on to Mr. Damon, "are you all ready?"
"As ready as I ever shall be. Do you think we'll have to do any vol-planing, Tom?"
"Hard to say, but it's not dangerous when there's no wind. All right, Garret. Start her off."
The engineer whirled the big wooden, built-up propeller, and with a rattle and roar of the motor, effectually drowning any but the loudest shouts, the BUTTERFLY was ready for her flight. Tom let the engine warm up a bit before calling to his friends to let go, and then, when he had thrown the gasolene lever forward, he shouted a good-by and cried:
"All right! Let go!"
Forward, like a hound from the leash, sprang the little monoplane. It ran perhaps for five hundred feet, and then, with a tilting of the wings, to set the air currents against them, it sprang into the air.
"We're off!" cried Mr. Damon, waving his hand to those on the ground below.
"Yes, we're off," murmured Tom. "Now for the Quaker City!"
He had mapped out a route for himself the night before, and now, picking out the land-marks, he laid as straight a course as possible for Philadelphia.
The sensation of flying along, two thousand feet high, in a machine almost as frail as a canoe, was not new to Tom. It was, in a degree, to Mr. Damon, for, though the latter had made frequent trips in the large airship, this mode of locomotion, as if he was on the back of some bird, was much different. Still, after the first surprise, he got used to it.
"Bless my finger ring!" he exclaimed, "I like it!"
"I thought you would," said Tom, in a shout, and he adjusted the oil feed to send more lubricant into the cylinders.
The earth stretched out below them, like some vari-colored relief map, but they could not stop to admire any particular spot long, for they were flying fast, and were beyond a scene almost as quickly as they had a glimpse of it.
"How long will it take us?" yelled Mr. Damon into Tom's ear.
"I hope to do it in three hours," shouted back the young inventor.
"What! Why it takes the train over five hours."
"Yes, I know, but we're going direct, and it's only about two hundred and fifty miles. That's only about eighty an hour. We're doing seventy-five now, and I haven't let her out yet."
"She goes faster than the RED CLOUD," cried Mr. Damon.
Tom nodded. It was hard work to talk in that rush of air. For an hour they shot along, their speed gradually increasing. Tom called out the names of the larger places they passed over. He was now doing better than eighty an hour as the gage showed. The trip was a glorious one, and the eyes of the young inventor and his friend sparkled in delight as they rushed forward. Two hours passed.
"Going to make it?" fairly howled Mr. Damon.
Tom nodded again.
"Be there in time for dinner," he announced in a shout.
It lacked forty minutes of the three hours when Tom, pointing with one hand down below, while with the other he gripped the lever of the rudder, called:
"So soon?" gasped Mr. Damon. "Well, we certainly made speed! Where are you going to land?"
"I don't know," answered the young inventor, "I'll have to pick out the best place I see. It's no fun landing in a city. No room to run along, after you're down."
"What's the matter with Franklin Field?" cried Mr. Damon. "Out where they play football."
"Good! The very thing!" shouted Tom.
"Mr. Fenwick lives near there," went on Mr. Damon, and Tom nodded comprehendingly.
They were now over North Philadelphia, and, in a few minutes more were above the Quaker City itself. They were flying rather low, and as the people in the streets became aware of their presence there was intense excitement. Tom steered for the big athletic field, and soon saw it in the distance.
With a suddenness that was startling the motor ceased its terrific racket. The monoplane gave a sickening dip, and Tom had to adjust the wing tips and rudder quickly to prevent it slewing around at a dangerous angle.
"What's the matter?" cried Mr. Damon, "Did you shut it off on purpose?"
"No!" shouted Tom, "Something's gone wrong!"
"Gone wrong! Bless my overshoes! Is there any danger?"
"We'll have to vol-plane to earth," answered Tom, and there was a grim look on his face. He had never executed this feat with a passenger aboard He was wondering how the BUTTERFLY would behave. But he would know very soon, for already the tiny monoplane was shooting rapidly toward the big field, which was now swarming with a curious crowd.
THE NEW AIRSHIP
For a brief instant after the stopping of the motor, and the consequent sudden dropping toward the earth of the monoplane, Tom glanced at Mr. Damon. The latter's face was rather pale, but he seemed calm and collected. His lips moved slightly, and Tom, even in those tense moments, wondered if the odd gentleman was blessing anything in particular, or everything in general.
Tom threw up the tilting plane, to catch more air beneath it, and bring the BUTTERFLY in a more parallel position to the earth. This, in a manner, checked the downward flight, and they glided along horizontally for a hundred feet or more.
"Is—is there any great danger, Tom?" asked Mr. Damon.
"I think not," answered the young inventor, confidently. "I have done this same thing before, and from greater heights. The only thing that bothers me is that there are several cross-currents of air up here, which make it difficult to manage the planes and wing tips. But I think we'll make a good landing."
"Bless my overcoat!" exclaimed Mr. Damon "I certainly hope so."
Conversation was more easily carried on now, as the motor was not spitting fire and throbbing like a battery of Gatling guns. Tom thought perhaps it might start on the spark, as the propeller was slowly swinging from the force of air against it. He tried, but there was no explosion. He had scarcely hoped for it, as he realized that some part of the mechanism must have broken.
Down they glided, coming nearer and nearer to the earth. The crowd in the big athletic field grew larger. Shouts of wonder and fear could be heard, and people could be seen running excitedly about. To Tom and Mr. Damon they looked like dolls.
Reaching the limit of the parallel glide the monoplane once more shot down on an incline toward the earth with terrible speed. The ground seemed to rush up to meet Mr. Damon.
"Look out!" he cried to Tom. "We're going to hit something!"
"Not yet," was the calm answer "I'm going to try a new stunt. Hold fast!"
"What are you going to do?"
"Some spirals. I think that will let us down easier, but the craft is likely to tilt a bit, so hold on."
The young inventor shifted the movable planes and rudder, and, a moment later, the BUTTERFLY swung violently around, like a polo pony taking a sudden turn after the ball. Mr. Damon slid to one side of his seat, and made a frantic grab for one of the upright supports.
"I made too short a turn!" cried Tom, easing off the craft, which righted itself in an instant. "The air currents fooled me."
Under his skillful guidance, the monoplane was soon slowly approaching the earth in a series of graceful curves. It was under perfect control, and a smile of relief came on the face of the young inventor. Seeing it Mr. Damon took courage, and his hands, which had grasped the uprights with such firmness that his knuckles showed white with the strain, were now removed. He sat easily in his seat.
"We're all right now," declared Tom. "I'll take a couple of forward glides now, and we'll land."
He sent the machine straight ahead. It gathered speed in an instant. Then, with an upward tilt it was slackened, almost as if brakes had been applied. Once more it shot toward the earth, and once more it was checked by an up-tilted plane.
Then with a thud which shook up the occupants of the two seats, the BUTTERFLY came to the ground, and ran along on the three bicycle wheels. Swiftly it slid over the level ground. A more ideal landing place would have been hard to find. Scores of willing hands reached out, and checked the momentum of the little monoplane, and Tom and Mr. Damon climbed from their seats.
The crowd set up a cheer, and hundreds pressed around the aviators. Several sought to reach, and touch the machine, for they had probably never been so close to one before, though airship flights are getting more and more common.
"Where did you come from?"
"Are you trying for a record?"
"How high did you get?"
"Did you fall, or come down on purpose?"
"Can't you start your motor in mid-air?"
These, and scores of other questions were fairly volleyed at Tom and Mr. Damon. The young inventor good-naturedly answered them as best he could.
"We were coming down anyhow," he explained, "but we did not calculate on vol-planing. The motor was stalled, and I had to glide. Please keep away from the machine. You might damage it."
The arrival of several policemen, who were attracted by the crowd, served to keep the curious ones back away from the BUTTERFLY, or the men, boys and women (for there were a number of the latter in the throng) might have caused serious trouble.
Tom made a hasty examination of the motor, and, having satisfied himself that only a minor difficulty had caused it to stop, he decided to put the monoplane in some safe place, and proceed to Mr. Fenwick's house.
The lad was just asking one of the officers if the air craft could not be put in one of the grandstands which surrounded the field, when a voice on the outskirts of the crowd excitedly exclaimed:
"Let me pass, please. I want to see that airship. I'm building one myself, and I need all the experience I can get. Let me in, please."
A man pushed his way into the crowd, and wormed his way to where Tom and Mr. Damon stood. At the sight of him, the eccentric individual cried out:
"Why bless my pocket-knife! If it isn't Mr. Fenwick!"
"Mr. Fenwick?" gasped Tom.
"Yes. The inventor we came to see!"
At the same moment the newcomer cried out:
"That's who I am," answered Tom's friend, "and let me introduce you to Mr. Swift, the inventor of more machines than I can count. He and I were coming to see you, when we had a slight accident, and we landed here. But that didn't matter, for we intended to land here anyhow, as I knew it was near your house. Only we had to vol-plane back to earth, and I can't say that I'd care for that, as a steady diet. Bless my radiator, but I'm glad we've arrived safely."
"Did you come all the way from your home in that?" asked Mr. Fenwick of Tom, as he shook hands with him, and nodded at the monoplane.
"Oh, yes. It's not much of a trip."
"Well, I hope my airship will do as well. But something seems to be wrong with it, and I have hopes that you can help me discover what it is, I know your father, and I have heard much of your ability. That is why I requested your aid."
"I'm afraid I've been much overrated," spoke Tom, modestly, "but I'll do all I can for you. I must now leave my monoplane in a safe place, however."
"I'll attend to that," Mr. Fenwick hastened to assure him. "Leave it to me."
By this time a lieutenant of police, in charge of several reserve officers, had arrived on the scene, for the crowd was now very large, and, as Mr. Fenwick knew this official, he requested that Tom's machine be protected from damage. It was arranged that it could be stored in a large, empty shed, and a policeman would be left on guard. Then, seeing that it was all right, Tom, Mr. Damon and Mr. Fenwick started for the latter's house.
"I am very anxious to show you the WHIZZER," said Mr. Fenwick, as they walked along.
"The WHIZZER?" repeated Tom, wonderingly.
"Yes, that's what I call my electric airship. It hasn't 'whizzed' any to speak of yet, but I have hopes that it will, now that you are here to help me. We will take one of these taxicabs, and soon be at my house. I was out for a stroll, when I saw your monoplane coming down, and I hastened to Franklin Field to see it."
The three entered an automobile, and were soon being driven to the inventor's home. A little later he led them out to a big shed which occupied nearly all of a large lot, in back of Mr. Fenwick's house.
"Does it take up all that room?" asked Tom.
"Oh, yes, the WHIZZER is pretty good size. There she is!" cried Mr. Fenwick proudly, as he threw open the doors of the shed, and Tom and Mr. Damon, locking in, saw a large triplane, with a good-sized gas bag hovering over it, and a strange collection of rudders, wings and planes sticking out from either side. Amidships was an enclosed car, or cabin, and a glimpse into it served to disclose to the young inventor a mass of machinery.
"There she is! That's the WHIZZER!" cried Mr. Fenwick, with pride in his voice. "What do you think of her, Tom Swift?"
Tom did not immediately answer. He looked dubiously at the electric airship and shrugged his shoulders. It seemed to him, at first glance, that, it would never sail.
MAKING SOME CHANGES
"Well, what do you think of it?" asked Mr. Fenwick again, as Tom walked all about the electric airship, still without speaking.
"It's big, certainly," remarked the lad.
"Bless my shoe horn! I should say it was!" burst out Mr. Damon. "It's larger than your RED CLOUD, Tom."
"But will it go? That's what I want to know," insisted the inventor. "Do you think it will fly, Tom? I haven't dared to try it yet, though a small model which I made floated in the air for some time. But it wouldn't move, except as the wind blew it."
"It would be hard to say, without a careful examination, whether this large one will fly or not," answered Tom.
"Then give it a careful examination," suggested Mr. Fenwick. "I'll pay you well for your time and trouble."
"Oh if I can help a fellow inventor, and assist in making a new model of airship fly, I'm only too glad to do it without pay," retorted Tom, quickly. "I didn't come here for that. Suppose we go in the cabin, and look at the motor. That's the most important point, if your airship is to navigate."
There was certainly plenty of machinery in the cabin of the WHIZZER. Most of it was electrical, for on that power Mr. Fenwick intended to depend to sail through space. There was a new type of gasolene engine, small but very powerful, and this served to operate a dynamo. In turn, the dynamo operated an electrical motor, as Mr. Fenwick had an idea that better, and more uniform, power could be obtained in this way, than from a gasolene motor direct. One advantage which Tom noticed at once, was that the WHIZZER had a large electric storage battery.
This was intended to operate the electric motor in case of a break to the main machinery, and it seemed a good idea. There were various other apparatuses, machines, and appliances, the nature of which Tom could not readily gather from a mere casual view.
"Well, what's your opinion, now that you have seen the motor?" asked Mr. Fenwick, anxiously.
"I'd have to see it in operation," said Tom.
"And you shall, right after dinner," declared the inventor. "I'd like to start it now, and hear what you have to say, but I'm not so selfish as that. I know you must be hungry after your trip from Shopton, as they say aeroplaning gives one an appetite."
"I don't know whether it's that or not," answered Tom with a laugh, "but I am certainly hungry."
"Then we'll postpone the trial until after dinner. It must be ready by this time, I think," said Mr. Fenwick, as he led the way back to the house. It was magnificently furnished, for the inventor was a man of wealth, and only took up aeroplaning as a "fad." An excellent dinner was served, and then the three returned once more to the shed where the WHIZZER was kept.
"Shall I start the motor in here?" asked Mr. Fenwick, when he had summoned several of the machinists whom he employed, to aid himself and the young inventor.
"It would be better if we could take it outside," suggested Tom, "yet a crowd is sure to gather, and I don't like to work in a mob of people."
"Oh, we can easily get around that," said Mr. Fenwick. "I have two openings to my aeroplane shed. We can take the WHIZZER out of the rear door, into a field enclosed by a high fence. That is where I made all my trials, and the crowd couldn't get in, though some boys did find knot-holes and use them. But I don't mind that. The only thing that bothers me is that I can't make the WHIZZER go up, and if it won't go up, it certainly won't sail. That's my difficulty, and I hope you can remedy it, Tom Swift."
"I'll do the best I can. But let's get the airship outside."
This was soon accomplished, and in the open lot Tom made a thorough and careful examination of the mechanism. The motor was started, and the propellers, for there were two, whirled around at rapid speed.
Tom made some tests and calculations, at which he was an expert, and applied the brake test, to see how much horse power the motor would deliver.
"I think there is one trouble that we will have to get over," he finally said to Mr. Fenwick.
"What is that?"
"The motor is not quite powerful enough because of the way in which you have it geared up. I think by changing some of the cogs, and getting rid of the off-set shaft, also by increasing the number of revolutions, and perhaps by using a new style of carburetor, we can get more speed and power."
"Then we'll do it!" cried Mr. Fenwick, with enthusiasm. "I knew I hadn't got everything just right. Do you think it will work after that?"
"Well," remarked Tom, hesitatingly, "I think the arrangement of the planes will also have to be changed. It will take quite some work, but perhaps, after a bit, we can get the WHIZZER up in the air."
"Can you begin work at once?" asked the inventor, eagerly.
Tom shook his head.
"I can't stay long enough on this trip," he said. "I promised father I would be back by to-morrow at the latest, but I will come over here again, and arrange to stay until I have done all I can. I need to get some of my special tools, and then, too, you will require some other supplies, of which I will give you a list. I hope you don't mind me speaking in this way, Mr. Fenwick, as though I knew more about it than you do," added Tom, modestly.
"Not a bit of it!" cried the inventor heartily. "I want the benefit of your advice and experience, and I'll do just as you say. I hope you can come back soon."
"I'll return the first of the week," promised Tom, "and then we'll see what can be done. Now I'll go over the whole ship once more, and see what I need. I also want to test the lifting capacity of your gas bag."
The rest of the day was a busy one for our hero. With the aid of Mr. Damon and the owner of the WHIZZER, he went over every point carefully. Then, as it was too late to attempt the return flight to Shopton, he telegraphed his father, and he and Mr. Damon remained over night with Mr. Fenwick.
In the morning, having written out a list of the things that would be needed, Tom went out to Franklin Field, and repaired his own monoplane. It was found that one of the electric wires connected with the motor had broken, thus cutting off the spark. It was soon repaired, and, in the presence of a large crowd, Tom and Mr. Damon started on their return flight.
"Do you think you can make the WHIZZER work, Tom?" asked Mr. Damon, as they were flying high over Philadelphia.
"I'm a little dubious about it," was the reply. "But after I make some changes I may have a different opinion. The whole affair is too big and clumsy, that's the trouble; though the electrical part of it is very good."
Shopton was reached without incident, in about three hours, and there was no necessity, this time, of vol-planing back to earth. After a short rest, Tom began getting together a number of special tools and appliances, which he proposed taking back to Philadelphia with him.
The young inventor made another trip to Mr. Fenwick's house the first of the following week. He went by train this time, as he had to ship his tools, and Mr. Damon did not accompany him. Then, with the assistance of the inventor of the WHIZZER, and several of his mechanics, Tom began making the changes on the airship.
"Do you think you can make it fly?" asked Mr. Fenwick, anxiously, after several days of labor.
"I hope so," replied our hero, and there was more confidence in his tone than there had been before. As the work progressed, he began to be more hopeful. "I'll make a trial flight, anyhow, in a few days," he added.
"Then I must send word to Mr. Damon," decided Mr. Fenwick. "He wants to be on hand to see it, and, if possible, go up; so he told me."
"All right," assented Tom. "I only hope it does go up," he concluded, in a low tone.
ANDY FOGER'S REVENGE
During the following week, Tom was kept busy over the airship. He made many important changes, and one of these was to use a new kind of gas in the balloon bag. He wanted a gas with a greater lifting power than that of the ordinary illuminating vapor which Mr. Fenwick had used.
"Well," remarked Tom, as he came from the airship shed one afternoon, "I think we can give it a try-out, Mr. Fenwick, in a few days more. I shall have to go back to Shopton to get some articles I need, and when I come back I will bring Mr. Damon with me, and we will see what the WHIZZER can do."
"Do you mean we will make a trial flight?"
"For how long a distance?"
"It all depends on how she behaves," answered Tom, with a smile. "If possible, we'll make a long flight."
"Then I'll tell you what I'm going to do," went on the inventor, "I'm going to put aboard a stock of provisions, and some other supplies and stores, in case we are two or three days in the air."
"It might not be a bad plan," agreed Tom, "though I hardly think we will be gone as long as that."
"Well, being out in the air always makes me hungry," proceeded Mr. Fenwick, "so I'm going to take plenty of food along."
The time was to come, and that very soon, when this decision of the inventor of the WHIZZER stood the adventurers in good stead.
Tom returned to Shopton the next day, and sent word to have Mr. Damon join him in time to go back to the Quaker City two days later.
"But why don't you start right back to Philadelphia to-morrow," asked Mr. Swift of his son.
"Because," answered Tom, and that was all the reason he would give, though had any one seen him reading a certain note a few minutes before that, which note was awaiting him on his arrival from the Quaker City, they would not have wondered at his decision.
The note was brief. It merely said:
"Won't you come, and have some apple turnovers? The new cook is a treasure, and the girls are anxious to meet you."
It was signed: Mary Nestor.
"I think I could enjoy some apple turnovers," remarked Tom, with a smile.
Having gotten ready the few special appliances he wished to take back to Philadelphia with him, Tom went, that evening, to call on Miss Nestor. True to her promise, the girl had a big plate full of apple turnovers, which she gaily offered our hero on his arrival, and, on his laughing declination to partake of so many, she ushered him into a room full of pretty girls, saying:
"They'll help you eat them, Tom. Girls, here is Mr. Swift, who doesn't mind going up in the air or under the ocean, or even catching runaway horses," by which last she referred to the time Tom saved her life, and first made her acquaintance.
As for the young inventor, he gave a gasp, almost as if he had plunged into a bath of icy water, at the sight of so many pretty faces staring at him. He said afterward that he would rather have vol-planed back to earth from a seven-mile height, than again face such a battery of sparkling eyes.
But our hero soon recovered himself, and entered into the merriment of the evening, and, before he knew it he was telling Miss Nestor and her attractive guests something of his exploits.
"But I'm talking altogether too much about myself." he said, finally. "How is the new cook Miss Nestor; and have you heard from your father and mother since they sailed on the RESOLUTE for the West Indies?"
"As to the new cook, she is a jewel of the first water," answered Miss Nestor. "We all like her, and she is anxious for another ride in a taxicab, as she calls your auto."
"She shall have it," declared Tom, "for those are the best apple turnovers I ever ate."
"I'll tell her so," declared Mary. "She'll appreciate it coming from an inventor of your ability."
"Have you heard from your parents?" asked Tom, anxious to change the subject.
"Oh, yes. I had a wire to-day. They stopped at St. Augustine to let me know they were having a glorious time aboard the yacht. Mr. Hosbrook, the owner, is an ideal host, mamma said. They are proceeding directly to the West Indies, now. I do hope they will arrive safely. They say there are bad storms down there at this time of year."
"Perhaps, if they are shipwrecked, Mr. Swift will go to their rescue in one of his airships, or a submarine," suggested Mabel Jackson, one of the several pretty girls.
"Oh, I hope he doesn't have to!" exclaimed Mary. "Don't speak of shipwrecks! It makes me shudder," and she seemed unduly alarmed.
"Of course they won't have any trouble," asserted Tom, confidently, more to reassure Miss Nestor, than from any knowledge he possessed; "but if they do get cast away on a desert island, I'll certainly go to their rescue," he added.
It was late when Tom started for home that night, for the society of Miss Nestor and her friends made the time pass quickly. He promised to call again, and try some more samples of the new cook's culinary art, as soon as he had gotten Mr. Fenwick's airship in shape for flying.
As, later that night, the young inventor came in sight of his home, and the various buildings and shops surrounding it, his first glance was toward the shed which contained his monoplane, BUTTERFLY. That little craft was Tom's pet. It had not cost him anything like as much as had his other inventions, either in time or money, but he cared more for it than for his big airship, RED CLOUD. This was principally because the BUTTERFLY was so light and airy, and could be gotten ready so quickly for a flight across country. It was capable of long endurance, too, for an extra large supply of gasolene and oil was carried aboard.
So it was with rather a start of surprise that Tom saw a light in the structure where the BUTTERFLY was housed.
"I wonder if dad or Mr. Jackson can be out there?" he mused. "Yet, I don't see why they should be. They wouldn't be going for a flight at night. Or perhaps Mr. Damon arrived, and is out looking it over."
A moment's reflection, however, told Tom that this last surmise could not be true, since the eccentric man had telegraphed, saying he would not arrive until the next day.
"Somebody's out there, however," went on Tom, "and I'm going to see who it is. I hope it isn't Eradicate monkeying with the monoplane. He's very curious, and he might get it out of order."
Tom increased his pace, and moved swiftly but softly toward the shed. If there was an intruder inside he wanted to surprise him. There were large windows to the place, and they would give a good view of the interior. As Tom approached, the light within flickered, and moved to and fro.
Tom reached one of the casements, and peered in. He caught a glimpse of a moving figure, and he heard a peculiar ripping sound. Then, as he sprang toward the front door, the light suddenly went out, and the young inventor could hear some one running from the shop.
"They've seen me, and are trying to get away," thought the lad. "I must catch them!"
He fairly leaped toward the portal, and, just as he reached it, a figure sprang out. So close was Tom that the unknown collided with him, and our hero went over on his back. The other person was tossed back by the force of the impact, but quickly recovered himself, and dashed away.
Not before, however, Tom had had a chance to glance at his face, and, to the chagrin of the young inventor, he recognized, by the dim light of a crescent moon, the countenance of Andy Foger! If additional evidence was needed Tom fully recognized the form as that of the town bully.
"Hold on there, Andy Foger!" shouted the young inventor. "What are you doing in my shed? What right have you in there? What did you do?"
Back came the answer through the night:
"I told you I'd get square with you, and I've done it," and then Andy's footsteps died away, while a mocking laugh floated back to Tom. What was Andy's revenge?
THE WHIZZER FLIES
For a moment, Tom gazed after the fleeting figure of the cowardly bully. He was half-minded to give pursuit, and then, realizing that he could find Andy later if he wanted him, the young inventor decided his best plan would be to see what damage had been done. For that damage would follow Andy's secret visit to the shop, Tom was certain.
Nor was his surmise wrong. Stepping into the building, the lad switched on the lights, and he could not repress an exclamation of chagrin as he looked toward his trim little monoplane, the BUTTERFLY.
Now it was a BUTTERFLY with broken wings, for Andy had slashed the canvas of the planes in a score of places.
"The scoundrel!" growled Tom. "I'll make him suffer for this! He's all but ruined my aeroplane."
Tom walked around his pet machine. As he came in front, and saw the propeller, he gave another exclamation. The fine wooden blades of several layers, gracefully curved, which had cost him so much in time and labor to build up, and then fashion to the right shape, had been hacked, and cut with an axe. The propeller was useless!
"More of Andy's work," murmured Tom. "This is about the worst yet!"
There came over him a feeling of great despondency, which was succeeded by a justifiable rage. He wanted to take after the bully, and give him a merciless beating. Then a calmer mood came over Tom.
"After all, what's the use?" he reasoned. "Whipping Andy wouldn't mend the BUTTERFLY. She's in bad shape, but I can repair her, when I get time. Luckily, he didn't meddle with the engine. That's all right." A hasty examination had shown this. "I guess I won't do anything now," went on Tom. "I'll have my hands full getting Mr. Fenwick's airship to run. After that I can come back here and fix up my own. It's a good thing I don't have to depend on her for making the trip to Philadelphia. Poor BUTTERFLY! you sure are in a bad way," and Tom felt almost as if he was talking to some living creature, so wrapped up was he in his trim little monoplane.
After another disheartening look at his air craft, the young inventor started to leave the shop. He looked at a door, the fastening of which Andy had broken to gain admittance.
"I should have had the burglar alarm working, and this would never have happened," reasoned Tom. All the buildings were arranged so that if any one entered them after a certain hour, an alarm would ring in the house. But of late, the alarm had not been set, as Tom and his father were not working on any special inventions that needed guarding. It was due to this oversight that Andy was able to get in undetected.
"But it won't happen again," declared Tom, and he at once began connecting the burglar-apparatus. He went into the house, and told his father and the engineer what had occurred. They were both indignant, and the engineer declared that he would sleep with one eye open all night, ready to respond to the first alarm.
"Oh, there's no danger of Andy coming back right away," said Tom. "He's too frightened. I wouldn't be surprised if he disappeared for a time. He'll be thinking that I'm after him."
This proved true, as Andy had left town next morning, and to all inquiries his mother said he had gone to visit relatives. She was not aware of her son's meanness, and Tom did not tell her.
Mr. Damon arrived from his home in Waterfield that day, and, with many "blessings," wanted to know if Tom was ready for the trial of the electrical airship.
"Yes, we'll leave for Philadelphia to-morrow," was the answer.
"Are we going in the BUTTERFLY? Bless my watch chain, but I like that little machine!"
"It will be some time before you again have a flight in her," said Tom, sorrowfully, as he told of Andy's act of vandalism.
"Why, bless my individuality!" cried Mr. Damon, indignantly. "I never heard of such a thing! Never!"
It did little good to talk of it, however, and Tom wanted to forget about it. He wished he had time to repair the monoplane before he left home, but there was much to do to get ready for the trial of the WHIZZER.
"When will you be back, Tom?" asked Mr. Swift, as his son and Mr. Damon departed for the Quaker City the following morning.
"Hard to say, dad. If I can make a long flight in the WHIZZER I'll do so. I may even drop down here and pay you a visit. But if I find there are many more changes to make in her construction, which is more than likely, I can't say when I'll return. I'll keep you posted, however, by writing."
"Can't you arrange to send me some wireless messages?" asked the older inventor, with a smile.
"I could, if I had thought to rig up the apparatus on Mr. Fenwick's airship," was the reply. "I'll hardly have time to do it now, though."
"Send wireless messages from an aeroplane?" gasped Mr. Damon. "Bless my gizzard! I never heard of such a thing!"
"Oh, it can be done," Tom assured him. And this was a fact. Tom had installed a wireless apparatus on his RED CLOUD recently, and it is well known that several of the modern biplanes can send wireless messages. The crossing and bracing wires of the frame are used for sending wires, and in place of ground conductors there are trailers which hang below the aeroplane. The current is derived directly from the engine, and the remaining things needed are a small step-up transformer, a key and a few other small parts. Tom had gone a step farther than this, and had also arranged to receive wireless messages, though few modern aeroplanes are thus equipped as yet.
But, of course, there was no time now to install a wireless apparatus on Mr. Fenwick's craft. Tom thought he would be lucky if he got the WHIZZER to make even a short flight.
"Well, let me hear from you when you can," requested Mr. Swift, and Tom promised. It was some time after that, and many strange things happened before Tom Swift again communicated with his father, at any length.
The young inventor had bidden farewell to Miss Nestor the night previous. She stated that she had a message that day from her parents aboard the RESOLUTE, which spoke a passing steamer. Mr. and Mrs. Nestor, and the other guests of Mr. Hosbrook were well, and anticipated a fine time on reaching the West Indies.
Tom now said good-by to his father, the housekeeper and Mr. Jackson, not forgetting, of course, Eradicate Sampson.
"Don't let Andy Foger come sneaking around here, Rad," cautioned the young inventor.
"'Deed an' I won't!" exclaimed the colored man. "Ef he do, I'll hab Boomerang kick him t' pieces, an' den I'll whitewash him so his own folks won't know him! Oh, don't you worry, Massa Tom. Dat Andy won't do no funny business when I'm around!"
Tom laughed, and started for the station with Mr. Damon. They arrived in Philadelphia that afternoon, the trip being very slow, as compared with the one made by the monoplane. They found Mr. Fenwick anxiously awaiting them, and Tom at once started work on the airship.
He kept at it until late that night, and resumed early the next morning. Many more changes and adjustments were made, and that afternoon, the young inventor said:
"I think we'll give it a try-out, Mr. Fenwick."
"Do you mean make a flight?"
"Yes, if she'll take it; but only a short one. I want to get her up in the air, and see how she behaves."
"Well, if you find out, after you're up, that she does well, you may want to take a long flight," suggested Mr. Fenwick. "If you do, why I have everything aboard necessary for a long voyage. The WHIZZER is well stocked with provisions."
An hour later, the big electric machine was wheeled out into the yard, for, in spite of her size, four men could easily move the craft about, so well was she balanced. Aside from a few personal friends of the inventor, himself, his machinists, Tom and Mr. Damon, no one was present at the try-out.
Tom, Mr. Damon and Mr. Fenwick climbed into the car which was suspended below the gas bag, and between the wing-like planes on either side. The young inventor had decided to make the WHIZZER rise by scudding her across the ground on the bicycle wheels, with which she was equipped, and then by using the tilting planes to endeavor to lift her off the earth. He wanted to see if she would go up that way, without the use of the gas bag.
All was in readiness. The motor was started and the machinery began to hum and throb. The propellers gained speed with every revolution. The airship had been made fast by a rope, to which was attached a strong spring balance, as it was desired to see how much pull the engine would give.
"Eight hundred pounds," announced one of the machinists.
"A thousand would be better, but we'll try it," Murmured Tom. "Cast off!"
The rope was loosened, and, increasing the speed of the engine, Tom signalled to the men to give a little momentum to the craft. She began running over the smooth ground. There was a cheer from the few spectators. Certainly the WHIZZER made good time on the earth.
Tom was anxiously watching the gages and other instruments. He wanted a little more speed, but could not seem to get it. He ran the motor to the utmost, and then, seeing the necessity of making an attempt to get up into the air, before the end of the speeding ground was reached, he pulled the elevating plane lever.
The front of the WHIZZER rose, and then settled down. Tom quickly shut off the power, and jammed on the brake, an arrangement of spikes that dug into the earth, for the high board fence loomed up before him.
"What's the matter?" cried Mr. Fenwick, anxiously.
"Couldn't get up speed enough," answered the young inventor. "We must have more momentum to make her rise."
"Can it be gotten?"
"I think so. I'll gear the motor higher."
It took an hour to do this. Once more the scale test was applied. It registered a pull of fifteen hundred pounds now.
"We'll go up," said Tom, grimly.
Once more the motors spit out fire, and the propellers whirled so that they looked like mere circles of light. Once more the WHIZZER shot over the ground, but this time, as she neared the fence, she rose up like a bird, cleared it like a trick horse, and soared off into the air!
The WHIZZER was flying!
OVER THE OCEAN
"Hurrah!" cried Mr. Fenwick in delight. "My machine is really flying at last!"
"Yes," answered Tom, as he adjusted various levers and gears, "she is going. It's not as high as I'd like, but it is doing very well, considering the weight of the craft, and the fact that we have not used the gas bag. I'm going to let that fill now, and we'll go up. Don't you want to steer, Mr. Fenwick?"
"No, you manage it, Tom, until it's in good running shape. I don't want to 'hoodoo' it. I worked as hard as I could, and never got more than two feet off the ground. Now I'm really sailing. It's great!"
He was very enthusiastic, and Tom himself was not a little pleased at his own success, for certainly the airship had looked to be a very dubious proposition at first.
"Bless my gaiters! But we are doing pretty well," remarked Mr. Damon, looking down on the field where Mr. Fenwick's friends and the machinists were gathered, cheering and waving their hands.
"We'll do better," declared Tom.
He had already set the gas machine in operation, and was now looking over the electric apparatus, to see that it was working well. It needed some adjustments, which he made.
All this while the WHIZZER was moving about in a big circle, for the rudder had been automatically set to so swing the craft. It was about two hundred feet high, but soon after the gas began to enter the bag it rose until it was nearly five thousand feet high. This satisfied Tom that the airship could do better than he expected, and he decided to return nearer earth.
In going down, he put the craft through a number of evolutions designed to test her ability to answer the rudders promptly. The lad saw opportunity for making a number of changes, and suggested them to Mr. Fenwick.
"Are you going any farther?" asked the owner of the WHIZZER, as he saw that his craft was slowly settling.
"No, I think we've done enough for the first day," said Tom, "But I'd like you to handle her now, Mr. Fenwick. You can make the landing, while I watch the motor and other machines."
"Yes. I guess I can make a landing all right," assented the inventor. "I'm better at coming down than going up."
He did make a good descent, and received the congratulation of his friends as he stepped from the airship. Tom was also given much praise for his success in making the craft go at all, for Mr. Fenwick and his acquaintances had about given up hope that she ever would rise.
"Well, what do you think of her?" Mr. Fenwick wanted to know of the young inventor, who replied that, as soon as some further changes had been made, they would attempt a long flight.
This promise was kept two days later. They were busy days for Tom, Mr. Fenwick and the latter's assistants. Tom sent a short note to his father telling of the proposed long flight, and intimated that he might make a call in Shopton if all went well. He also sent a wire to Miss Nestor, hinting that she might have some apple turnovers ready for him.
But Tom never called for that particular pastry, though it was gotten ready for him when the girl received his message.
All was in readiness for the long flight, and a preliminary test had demonstrated that the WHIZZER had been wonderfully improved by the changes Tom made. The young inventor looked over the supply of food Mr. Fenwick had placed aboard, glanced at the other stores, and asked:
"How long do you expect to be gone, Mr. Fenwick?"
"Why, don't you think we can stay out a week?"
"That's quite a while," responded Tom. "We may be glad to return in two days, or less. But I think we're all ready to start. Are any of your friends going?"
"I've tried to pursuade some of them to accompany me, but they are a bit timid," said the inventor. "I guess we three will make up the party this time, though if our trip is a successful one I'll be overwhelmed with requests for rides, I suppose."
As before, a little crowd gathered to see the start. The day was warm, but there was a slight haziness which Tom did not like. He hoped, though, that it would pass over before they had gone far.
"Do you wish to head for any particular spot, Mr. Fenwick?" asked Tom, as they were entering the cabin.
"Yes, I would like to go down and circle Cape May, New Jersey, if we could. I have a friend who has a summer cottage there, and he was always laughing at my airship. I'd just like to drop down in front of his place now, and pay him a call."
"We'll try it," assented Tom, with a smile.
An auspicious start was made, the WHIZZER taking the air after a short flight across the ground, and then, with the lifting gas aiding in pulling the craft upward, the airship started to sail high over the city of Philadelphia.
So swiftly did it rise that the cheers of the little crowd of Mr. Fenwick's friends were scarcely heard. Up and up it went, and then a little later, to the astonishment of the crowds in the streets, Tom put the airship twice in a circle around the statue of William Penn, on the top of the City Hall.
"Now you steer," the lad invited Mr. Fenwick. "Take her straight across the Delaware River, and over Camden, New Jersey, and then head south, for Cape May. We ought to make it in an hour, for we are getting up good speed."
Leaving the owner in charge of his craft, to that gentleman's no small delight, Tom and Mr. Damon began an inspection of the electrical and other machinery. There was much that needed attention, but Tom soon had the automatic apparatus in working order, and then less attention need be given to it.
Several times the young investor looked out of the windows with which the cabin was fitted. Mr. Damon noticed this.
"Bless my shoe laces, Tom," he said. "What's the matter?"
"I don't like the looks of the weather," was the answer. "I think we're in for a storm."
"Then let's put back."
"No, it would be too bad to disappoint Mr. Fenwick, now that we have made such a good start. He wants to make a long flight, and I can't blame him," spoke Tom, in a low voice.
"But if there's danger—"
"Oh, well, we can soon be at Cape May, and start back. The wind is freshening rather suddenly, though," and Tom looked at the anemometer, which showed a speed of twenty miles an hour. However, it was in their favor, aiding them to make faster time.
The speed of the WHIZZER was now about forty miles an hour, not fast for an air craft, but sufficiently speedy in trying out a new machine. Tom looked at the barograph, and noted that they had attained an altitude of seven thousand five hundred feet.
"That's better than millionaire Daxtel's distance of seven thousand one hundred and five feet," remarked the lad, with a smile, "and it breaks Jackson's climb of seven thousand three hundred and three feet, which is pretty good for your machine, Mr. Fenwick."
"Do you really think so?" asked the pleased inventor.
"Yes. And we'll do better than that in time, but it's best to go slow at first, until we see how she is standing the strain. This is high and fast enough for the present."
They kept on, and as Tom saw that the machinery was working well, he let it out a little, The WHIZZER at once leaped forward, and, a little later they came within sight of Cape May, the Jersey coast resort.
"Now to drop down and visit my friend," said Mr. Fenwick, with a smile. "Won't he be surprised!"
"I don't think we'd better do it," said Tom.
"Well, the wind is getting stronger every minute and it will be against us on the way back. If we descend, and try to make another ascension we may fail. We're up in the air now, and it may be easy to turn around and go back. Then, again, it may not, but it certainly will be easier to shift around up here than down on the ground. So I'd rather not descend—that is, not entirely to the ground."