TOM SWIFT AND HIS WIZARD CAMERA
Thrilling Adventures While Taking Moving Pictures
I A STRANGE OFFER II A MAN IN THE SNOW BANK III TOM MAKES UP HIS MIND IV HELD FAST V TOM GETS A WARNING VI TRYING THE CAMERA VII WHAT THE CAMERA CAUGHT VIII PHOTOS FROM THE AIRSHIP IX OFF FOR INDIA X UNEXPECTED EXCITEMENT XI AN ELEPHANT STAMPEDE XII THE LION FIGHT XIII A SHOT IN TIME XIV IN A GREAT GALE XV SNAPPING AN AVALANCHE XVI TELEGRAPH ORDERS XVII SUSPICIOUS STRANGERS XVIII THE NATIVE BATTLE XIX A HEAVY LOSS XX AFTER THE ENGLISHMEN XXI THE JUNGLE FIRE XXII A DANGEROUS COMMISSION XXIII AT THE VOLCANO XXIV THE MOLTEN RIM XXV THE EARTHQUAKE—CONCLUSION
TOM SWIFT AND HIS WIZARD CAMERA
A STRANGE OFFER
"Some one to see you, Mr. Tom."
It was Koku, or August, as he was sometimes called, the new giant servant of Tom Swift, who made this announcement to the young inventor.
"Who is it, Koku?" inquired Tom, looking up from his work-bench in the machine shop, where he was busy over a part of the motor for his new noiseless airship. "Any one I know? Is it the 'Blessing Man?'" for so Koku had come to call Mr. Damon, an eccentric friend of Tom's.
"No, not him. A strange man. I never see before. He say he got quick business."
"Quick business; eh? I guess you mean important, Koku," for this gigantic man, one of a pair that Tom had brought with him after his captivity in "Giant Land," as he called it, could not speak English very well, as yet. "Important business; eh, Koku? Did he send in his card?"
"No, Mr. Tom. Him say he have no card. You not know him, but he very much what you call—recited."
"Excited I guess you mean, Koku. Well, tell him to wait a few minutes, and I'll see him. You can show him in then. But I say, Koku," and Tom paused as he looked at the big man, who had attached himself to our hero, as a sort of personal helper and bodyguard.
"Yes, Mr. Tom; what is it?"
"Don't let him go poking around the shop. He might look at some of my machines that I haven't got fully patented yet. Is he in the front office?"
"That's where him am. He be lookin' at pictures on the walls."
"Oh, that's all right then. Just keep him there. And, Koku, don't let him come back in the shop here, until I get ready to see him. I'll ring the bell when I am."
"All right, Mr. Tom."
Koku, very proud of his, mission of keeping guard over the strange visitor, marched from the room with his big strides, his long arms and powerful hands swinging at his sides, for Koku, or August, as Tom had rechristened him, and as he often called him (for it was in the month of August that he had located the giants) was a very powerful man. A veritable giant, being extremely tall, and big in proportion.
"Be sure. Don't let him in here, Koku!" called Tom, in an additional warning, as his new servant left the main shop.
"Sure not!" exclaimed Koku, very earnestly.
"I don't know who he may be," mused Tom, as he began putting away the parts to his new noiseless motor, so that the stranger could not see them, and profit thereby. "It looks rather funny, not sending in his name. It may be some one who thinks he can spring a trick on me, and get some points about my inventions, or dad's.
"It may even be somebody sent on by Andy Foger, or his father. I can't be too careful. I'll just put everything away that isn't fully covered by patents, and then if he wants to infringe on any of the machines I can sue him."
Tom looked about the shop, which was filled with strange machinery, most of which had been made by himself, or his father, or under their combined directions. There was a big biplane in one corner, a small monoplane in another, parts of a submarine boat hanging up overhead, and a small, but very powerful, electric auto waiting to have some repairs made to it, for on his last trip in it Tom Swift had suffered a slight accident.
"There, I guess he can't see anything but what I want him to," mused Tom, as he put away the last part of a new kind of motor, from which he hoped great things. "Let's see, yes, it's out of sight now. I wish Ned Newton, or Mr. Damon were here to be a witness in case he starts anything. But then I have Koku, even if he doesn't speak much English yet. If it comes to blows—well, I wouldn't want that giant to hit me," finished Tom with a laugh, as he rang the bell to announce to his servant that the visitor might be shown in.
There was a sound outside the door that separated the business office from the main shop, and Tom heard Koku exclaim:
"Hold on! Wait! I go first. You wait!"
"What's the matter with me going ahead?" demanded a quick, snappy voice. "I'm in a hurry, and—"
"You wait! I go first," was the giant's reply, and then came the sound of a scuffle.
"Ouch! Say! Hold on there, my man! Take your hand off my shoulder! You're crushing me with those big fingers of yours!"
This was evidently the visitor remonstrating with the giant.
"Humph! I guess Koku must have grabbed him," said Tom softly. "I don't like that sort of a visitor. What's his hurry getting in here?" and our hero looked about, to see if he had a weapon at hand in case of an attack. Often cranks had forced their way into his shop, with pet inventions which they wanted him to perfect after they had themselves failed. Tom saw a heavy iron bar at hand, and knew this would serve to protect him.
"You come after me!" exclaimed Koku, when the voice of the other had ceased. "Do you stand under me?"
"Oh, yes, I understand all right. I'll keep back. But I didn't mean anything. I'm just in a hurry to see Tom Swift, that is all. I'm always in a hurry in fact. I've lost nearly a thousand dollars this morning, just by this delay. I want to see Mr. Swift at once; and have a talk with him."
"Another crank, I guess," mused Tom. "Well, I'm not going to waste much time on him."
A moment later the door opened, and into the shop stepped Koku, followed by a short, stout, fussy little man, wearing a flaming red tie, but otherwise his clothes were not remarkable.
"Is this Mr. Tom Swift?" asked the stranger, as he advanced and held out his hand to the young man.
"Yes," answered Tom, looking carefully at the visitor. He did not seem to be dangerous, he had no weapon, and, Tom was relieved to note that he did not carry some absurd machine, or appliance, that he had made, hoping to get help in completing it. The youth was trying to remember if he had ever seen the stranger before, but came to the conclusion that he had not.
"Sorry to take up your time," went on the man, "but I just had to see you. No one else will do. I've heard lots about you. That was a great stunt you pulled off, getting those giants for the circus. This is one; isn't he?" and he nodded toward Koku.
"Yes," replied Tom, wondering if the little man was in such a hurry why he did not get down to business.
"I thought so," the caller went on, as he shook hands with Tom. "Once you felt his grip you'd know he was a giant, even if you didn't see him. Yes, that was a great stunt. And going to the caves of ice, too, and that diamond-making affair. All of 'em great. I—"
"How did you know about them?" interrupted Tom, wishing the man would tell his errand.
"Oh, you're better known than you have any idea of, Tom Swift. As soon as I got this idea of mine I said right away, to some of the others in my business, I says, says I, 'Tom Swift is the boy for us. I'll get him to undertake this work, and then it will be done to the Queen's taste. Tom's the boy who can do it,' I says, and they all agreed with me. So I came here to-day, and I'm sorry I had to wait to see you, for I'm the busiest man in the world, I believe, and, as I said, I've lost about a thousand dollars waiting to have a talk with you. I—"
"I am sorry," interrupted Tom, and he was not very cordial. "But I was busy, and—"
"All right! All right! Don't apologize!" broke in the man in rapid tones, while both Tom, and his servant, Koku, looked in surprise at the quick flow of language that came from him. "Don't apologize for the world. It's my fault for bothering you. And I'll lose several thousand dollars, willingly, if you'll undertake this job. I'll make money from it as it is. It's worth ten thousand dollars to you, I should say, and I'm willing to pay that."
He looked about, as though for a seat, and Tom, apologizing for his neglect in offering one, shoved a box forward.
"We don't have chairs in here," said the young inventor with a smile. "Now if you will tell me what you—"
"I'm coming right to it. I'll get down to business in a moment," interrupted the man as he sat down on the box, not without a grunt or two, I for he was very stout. "I'm going to introduce myself in just a second, and then I'm going to tell you who I am. And I hope you'll take up my offer, though it may seem a strange one."
The man took out a pocketbook, and began searching through it, evidently for some card or paper.
"He's as odd as Mr. Damon is, when he's blessing everything," mused Tom, as he watched the man.
"I thought I had a card with me, but I haven't," the visitor went on. "No matter. I'm James Period—promoter of all kinds of amusement enterprises, from a merry-go-'round to a theatrical performance. I want you to—"
"No more going after giants," interrupted. Tom. "It's too dangerous, and I haven't time—"
"No, it has nothing to do with giants," spoke Mr. Period, as he glanced up at Koku, who towered over him as he sat on the box near Tom.
"Well?" returned Tom.
"This is something entirely new. It has never been done before, though if you should happen to be able to get a picture of giants don't miss the opportunity."
"Get a picture?" exclaimed Tom, wondering if, after all, his visitor might not be a little insane.
"Pictures, yes. Listen. I'm James Period. Jim, if you like it better, or just plain 'Spotty.' That's what most of my friends call me. Get the idea? A period is a spot. I'm a Period, therefor I'm a spot. But that isn't the real reason. It's because I'm always Johnny on the Spot when anything is happening. If it's a big boxing exhibition, I'm there. If it's a coronation, I'm there, or some of my men are. If it's a Durbar in India, you'll find Spotty on the spot. That's me. If there's going to be a building blown up with dynamite—I'm on hand; or some of my men. If there's a fire I get there as soon as the engines do—if it's a big one. Always on the spot—that's me—James Period—Spotty for short. Do you get me?" and he drew a long breath and looked at Tom, his head on one side.
"I understand that you are—"
"In the moving picture business," interrupted Mr. Period, who never seemed to let Tom finish a sentence. "I'm the biggest moving picture man in the world—not in size, but in business. I make all the best films. You've seen some of 'em I guess. Every one of 'em has my picture on the end of the film. Shows up great. Advertising scheme—get me?"
"Yes," replied Tom, as he recalled that he had seen some of the films in question, and good ones they were too. "I see your point, but—"
"You want to know why I come to you; don't you?" again interrupted "Spotty," with a laugh. "Well, I'll tell you. I need you in my business. I want you to invent a new kind of moving picture camera. A small light one—worked by electricity—a regular wizard camera. I want you to take it up in an airship with you, and then go to all sorts of wild and strange countries, Africa, India—the jungles—get pictures of wild animals at peace and fighting—herds of elephants—get scenes of native wars—earthquakes—eruptions of volcanoes—all the newest and most wonderful pictures you can. You'll have to make a new kind of camera to do it. The kind we use won't do the trick.
"Now do you get me? I'm going to give you ten thousand dollars, above all your expenses, for some films such as I've been speaking of. I want novelty. Got to have it in my business! You can do it. Now will you?"
"I hardly think—" began Tom.
"Don't answer me now," broke in Mr. Period. "Take four minutes to think it over. Or even five. I guess I can wait that long. Take five minutes. I'll wait while you make up your mind, but I know you'll do it. Five minutes—no more," and hastily getting up off the box Mr. Period began impatiently pacing up and down the shop.
A MAN IN THE SNOW BANK
Tom Swift looked somewhat in surprise at his strange visitor. It had all happened so suddenly, the offer had been such a strange one, the man himself—Mr. Period—was so odd, that our hero hardly knew what to think. The moving picture agent continued pacing up and down the room now and then looking at his watch as if to note when the five minutes had passed.
"No," said Tom to himself. "I'm not going to take this offer. There's too much work and risk attached to it. I want to stay at home and work on my noiseless motor for the airship. After that—well—I don't know what I'll do. I'll tell Mr. Period that he needn't wait the five minutes. My mind is made up now!"
But as Tom was about to make this announcement, and dismiss his caller, he looked again at the visitor. There was something attractive about him—about his hasty way of talking, about his manner of interrupting, about the way he proposed matters. Tom was interested in spite of himself.
"Well," he reflected, "I may as well wait until the five minutes are up, anyhow."
Koku, the giant servant, glanced at his young master, as if to ask if there was anything that he could do. Tom shook his head, and then the big man strolled over to the other side of the machine shop, at the same time keeping a careful eye on Mr. Period.
While Tom is waiting for the time to expire, I will take a few minutes to tell you something more about him. Those of my friends who have read the previous books in this series need no introduction to my hero, but those who may chance upon this as their first book in the Tom Swift series, will like to be more formally introduced.
Tom, whose mother had been dead some years, lived with his father, Barton Swift, in the town of Shopton. Mr. Swift was an inventor of prominence, and his son was fast following in his footsteps. A Mrs. Baggert kept house for the Swifts, and another member of the household was Eradicate Sampson, an aged colored man, who said he used to "eradicate" the dirt. He had been with Tom on many trips, but of late was getting old and feeble. Then there was Garret Jackson, an engineer employed by the Swifts. These were all the immediate members of the household.
Tom had a chum, Ned Newton, who used to work in a bank, and there was a girl, Mary Nestor, a daughter of Amos Nestor, in which young lady Tom was much interested.
Eradicate Sampson had a mule, Boomerang, of whom he thought almost as much as he did of Tom. Eradicate was a faithful friend and servant, but, of late, Koku, or August, the giant, had rather supplanted him. I must not forget Mr. Wakefield Damon, of Waterfield, a village near Shopton. Mr. Damon was an odd man, always blessing everything. He and Tom were good friends, and had been on many trips together.
The first book of the series was called "Tom Swift and His Motor-Cycle," and related how Tom bought the cycle from Mr. Damon, after the latter had met with an accident on it, and it was in this way that our hero became acquainted with the odd man.
Tom had many adventures on his motor-cycle, and, later on he secured a motor-boat, in which he beat his enemy, Andy Foger, in a race. Next Tom built an airship, and in this he went on a wonderful trip. Returning from this he and his father heard about a treasure sunken under the ocean. In his submarine boat Tom secured the valuables, and made a large sum for himself.
In his electric runabout, which was the swiftest car on the road, Tom was able to save from ruin a bank in which his father was interested, and, a short time after that, he went on a trip in an airship, with a man who had invented a new kind. The airship was smashed, and fell to Earthquake Island, where there were some refugees from a shipwreck, among them being the parents of Mary Nestor. In the volume called "Tom Swift and His Wireless Message," I told how he saved these people.
When Tom went among the diamond makers he had more strange adventures, on that trip discovering the secret of phantom mountain. He had bad luck when he went to the caves of ice, for there his airship was wrecked.
When Tom made the trip in his sky racer he broke all records for an aerial flight, incidentally saving his father's life. It was some time after this when he invented an electric rifle, and went to elephant land, to rescue some missionaries from the red pygmies.
The eleventh volume of the series is called "Tom Swift in the Land of Gold," and relates his adventures underground, while the next one tells of a new machine he invented—an air-glider—which he used to save the exiles of Siberia, incidentally, on that trip, finding a valuable deposit of platinum.
As I have said, it was on his trip to giant land that Tom got his big servant. This book, the thirteenth of the series, is called "Tom Swift in Captivity," for the giants captured him and his friends, and it was only by means of their airship that they made their daring escape.
Tom had been back from the strange land some time now. One giant he had turned over to the circus representative for whom he had undertaken the mission, and the other he retained to work around his shop, as Eradicate was getting too old. It was now winter, and there had been quite a fall of snow the day before Mr. Period, the odd moving picture man, called on Tom. There were many big drifts outside the building.
Tom had fitted up a well-equipped shop, where he and his father worked on their inventions. Occasionally Ned Newton, or Mr. Damon, would come over to help them, but of late Tom had been so busy on his noiseless motor that he had not had time to even see his friends.
"Well, I guess the five minutes have passed, and my mind is made up," thought Tom, as he looked at his watch. "I might as well tell Mr. Period that I can't undertake his commission. In the first place it isn't going to be an easy matter to make an electric moving picture camera. I'd have to spend a lot of time studying up the subject, and then I might not be able to get it to work right.
"And, again, I can't spare the time to go to all sorts of wild and impossible places to get the pictures. It's all well enough to talk about getting moving pictures of natives in battle, or wild beasts fighting, or volcanoes in action, but it isn't so easy to do it. Then, too, I'd have to make some changes in my airship if I went on that trip. No, I can't go. I'll tell him he'll have to find some one else."
Mr. Period pulled out his watch, opened it quickly, snapped it shut again, and exclaimed:
"Well, how about it, Tom Swift? When can you start! The sooner the better for me! You'll want some money for expenses I think. I brought my check book along, also a fountain pen. I'll give you a thousand dollars now, for I know making an electric moving picture camera isn't going to be cheap work. Then, when you get ready to start off in your airship, you'll need more money. I'll be Johnny-on-the-spot all right, and have it ready for you. Now when do you think you can start?"
He sat down at a bench, and began filling out a check.
"Hold on!" cried Tom, amused in spite of himself. "Don't sign that check, Mr. Period. I'm not going."
"Not going?" The man's face showed blank amazement.
"No," went on Tom. "I can't spare the time. I'm sorry, but you'll have to get some one else."
"Some one else? But who can I get?"
"Why, there are plenty who would be glad of the chance."
"But they can't invent an electric moving picture camera, and, if they could, they wouldn't know enough to take pictures with it. It's got to be you or no one, Tom Swift. Look here, I'll make it fifteen thousand dollars above expenses."
"No, I'm sorry, but I can't go. My work here keeps me too busy.
"Oh, pshaw! Now, look here, Tom Swift! Do you know who sent me to see you?"
"It was Mr. Nestor, who has a daughter named Mary, I believe. Mr. Nestor is one of the directors in our company, and one day, when he told me about you sending a wireless message from Earthquake Island, I knew you would be the very man for me. So now you see you'll be doing Mr. Nestor a favor, as well as me, if you go on this trip."
Tom was somewhat surprised, yet he realized that Mr. Period was speaking the truth. Mr. Nestor was identified with many new enterprises. Yet the youth was firm.
"I really can't go," said our hero. "I'd like to, but I can't. I'd like to oblige Mr. Nestor, for—well, for more reasons than one," and Tom blushed slightly. "But it is out of the question. I really can't go."
"But you must!" insisted the camera man. "I won't take 'no' for an answer. You've got to go, Tom Swift, do you hear that? You've go to go?"
Mr. Period was apparently very much excited. He strode over to Tom and smote his hands together to emphasize what he said. Then he shook his finger at Tom, to impress the importance of the matter on our hero.
"You've just got to go!" he cried. "You're the only one who can help me, Tom. Do go! I'll pay you well, and—oh, well, I know you don't need the money, exactly, but—say, you've got to go!"
In his earnestness Mr. Period laid his hand on Tom's arm. The next instant something happened.
With a few big strides Koku was beside the picture man. With great quickness he grasped Mr. Period by the coat collar, lifted him off his feet with one hand, and walked over to a window with him, easily lifting him above the floor.
With one fling the giant tossed the short, stout gentleman out into a snow bank, while Tom looked on, too surprised to do anything, even if he had had the chance.
"There. You touch Tom Swift again, and I sit on you and keep you under snow!" cried the giant, while Mr. Period kicked and squirmed about in the drift, as Tom made a leap forward to help him out.
TOM MAKES UP HIS MIND
"Great Scott!" yelled the picture man. "What in the world happened to me? Did I get kicked by that mule Boomerang of Eradicate's, that I've heard so much about? Or was it an earthquake, such as I want to get a picture of? What happened?"
He was still floundering about in the deep bank of snow that was just outside the window. Fortunately the sash had been up, and Koku had tossed Mr. Period through the open window. Otherwise, had there been glass, the well-meaning, but unreasoning giant would probably have thrown his victim through that, and he might have been badly cut. Tom had the window open for fresh air, as it was rather close in the shop.
"Why, Koku!" exclaimed the young inventor, as he leaned out of the window, and extended his hand to the moving picture man to help him out of the drift. "What do you mean by that? Have you gone crazy?"
"No, but no one shall lay hands on my master!" declared the giant half savagely. "I have vowed to always protect you from danger, in return for what you did for me. I saw this man lay his hand on you. In another moment he might have killed you, had not Koku been here. There is no danger when I am by," and he stretched out his huge arms, and looked ferocious. "I have turned over that man, your enemy!" he added.
"Yes, you overturned me all right," admitted Mr. Period, as he got to his feet, and crawled in through the window to the shop again. "I went head over heels. I'm glad it was clean snow, and not a mud bank, Tom. What in the world is the matter with him?"
"I guess he thought you were going to harm me," said Tom in a low voice, as the picture man came in the shop. "Koku is very devoted to me, and sometimes he makes trouble," the youth went on. "But he means it all for the best. I am very sorry for what happened," and Tom aided Mr. Period in brushing the snow off his garments. "Koku, you must beg the pardon of this gentleman," Tom directed.
"What for?" the giant wanted to know.
"For throwing him into the snow. It is not allowed to do such things in this country, even though it is in Giant Land. Beg his pardon.
"I shall not," said the giant calmly, for Tom had taught him to speak fairly good English, though sometimes he got his words backwards.
"The man was about to kill you, and I stopped him—I will stop him once more, though if he does not like the snow, I can throw him somewhere else."
"No! No! You must not do it!" cried Tom. "He meant no harm. He is my friend."
"I am glad to hear you say that," exclaimed the picture man. "I have hopes that you will do what I want."
"He your friend?" asked Koku wonderingly. "Certainly; and you must beg his pardon for what you did," insisted Tom.
"Very well. I am glad you did not hurt yourself," said the giant, and with that "apology" he stalked out of the room, his feelings evidently very much disturbed.
"Ha! Ha!" laughed Mr. Period. "I guess he can't see any one but you, Tom. But never mind. I know he didn't mean anything, and, as I'm none the worse I'll forgive him. My necktie isn't spotted; is it?"
"No, the snow didn't seem to do that any harm," replied the young inventor, as he looked at the brilliant piece of red silk around Mr. Period's collar.
"I am very particular about my neckties," went on the picture man. "I always wear one color. My friends never forget me then."
Tom wondered how they could ever forget him, even though he wore no tie, for his figure and face were such as to not easily be forgotten.
"I'm glad it's not soiled," went on "Spotty" as he liked to be called. "Now, Tom, you said you were my friend. Prove it by accepting my offer. Build that wizard camera, and get me some moving pictures that will be a sensation. Say you will!"
He looked appealingly at Tom, and, remembering the rather rude and unexpected treatment to which Koku had submitted the gentleman, Tom felt his mind changing. Still he was not yet ready to give in. He rather liked the idea the more he thought of it, but he felt that he had other duties, and much to occupy him at home, especially if he perfected his silent motor.
"Will you go?" asked Mr. Period, picking up his fountain pen and check book, that he had laid aside when he walked over to Tom, just before the giant grasped him. "Say you will."
The young inventor was silent a moment. He thought over the many adventures he had gone through—in the caves of ice, in the city of gold, escaping from the giants, and the red pygmies—He went over the details of his trips through the air, of the dangers under the seas, of those he had escaped from on Earthquake Island. Surely e was entitled to a little rest at home.
And yet there was a lure to it all. A certain fascination that was hard to resist. Mr. Period must have seen what was going on in Tom's mind, for he said:
"I know you're going. I can see it. Why, it will be just the very thing you need. You'll get more fame out of this thing than from any of your other inventions. Come, say you'll do it.
"I'll tell you what I'll do!" he went on eagerly. "After you make the camera, and take a lot of films, showing strange and wonderful scenes, I'll put at the end of each film, next to my picture, your name, and a statement showing that you took the originals. How's that? Talk about being advertised! Why you can't beat it! Millions of people will read your name at the picture shows every night."
"I am not looking for advertisements," said Tom, with a laugh.
"Well, then, think of the benefit you will be to science," went on Mr. Period quickly. "Think of the few people who have seen wild animals as they are, of those who have ever seen an earthquake, or a volcano in action. You can go to Japan, and get pictures of earthquakes. They have them on tap there. And as for volcanoes, why the Andes mountains are full of 'em. Think of how many people will be thankful to you for showing them these wonderful scenes."
"And think of what might happen if I should take a tumble into a crack in the earth, or down a hot volcano, or fall into a jungle when there was a fight on among the elephants," suggested Tom. "My airship might take a notion to go down when I was doing the photographing," he added.
"No. Nothing like that will happen to Tom Swift," was the confident answer of the picture man. "I've read of your doings. You don't have accidents that you can't get the better of. But come, I know you're thinking of it, and I'm sure you'll go. Let me make you out this check, sign a contract which I have all ready, and then get to work on the camera."
Tom was silent a moment. Then he said:
"Well, I admit that there is something attractive about it. I hoped I was going to stay home for a long time. But—"
"Then you'll go!" cried Mr. Period eagerly. "Here's the money," and he quickly filled out a check for Tom's first expenses, holding the slip of paper toward the young inventor.
"Wait a minute! Hold on!" cried Tom. "Not so fast if you please. I haven't yet made up my mind."
"But you will; won't you?" asked Mr. Period.
"Well, I'll make up my mind, one way or the other," replied the young man. "I won't say I'll go, but—"
"I'll tell you what I'll do!" interrupted Mr. Period. "I'm a busy man, and every second is worth money to me. But I'll wait for you to make up your mind. I'll give you until to-morrow night. How's that? Fair, isn't it?"
"Yes—I think so. I am afraid—"
"I'm not!" broke in the picture man. "I know you'll decide to go. Think of the fun and excitement you'll have. Now I've taken up a lot of your time, and I'm going to leave you alone. I'll be back tomorrow evening for my answer. But I know you're going to get those moving pictures for me. Is that giant of yours anywhere about?" he asked, as he looked cautiously around before leaving the shop. "I don't want to fall into his hands again."
"I don't blame you," agreed Tom. "I never knew him to act that way before. But I'll go to the gate with you, and Koku will behave him self. I am sorry—"
"Don't mention it!" broke in the picture man. "It was worth all I suffered, if you go, and I know you will. Don't trouble yourself to come out. I can find my way, and if your giant comes after me, I'll call for help."
He hurried out before Tom could follow, and, hearing the gate click a little later, and no call for help coming, our hero concluded that his visitor had gotten safely away.
"Well, what am I going to do about it?" mused Tom, as he resumed work on his silent motor. He had not been long engaged in readjusting some of the valves, when he was again interrupted.
This time it was his chum, Ned Newton, who entered, and, as Ned was well known to the giant, nothing happened.
"Well, what's up, Tom?" asked Ned.
"Why, did you notice anything unusual?" asked Tom.
"I saw Koku standing at the gate a while ago, looking down the road at a short stout man, with a red tie. Your giant seemed rather excited about something."
"Oh, yes. I'll tell you about it," and Tom related the details of Mr. Period's visit.
"Are you going to take his offer?" asked Ned.
"I've got until tomorrow to make up my mind. What would you do, Ned?"
"Why, I'd take it in a minute, if I knew how to make an electric camera. I suppose it has to be a very speedy one, to take the kind of pictures he wants. Wait, hold on, I've just thought of a joke. It must be a swift camera—catch on—you're Swift, and you make a swift camera; see the point?"
"I do," confessed Tom, with a laugh. "Well, Ned, I've been thinking it over, but I can't decide right away. I will tomorrow night, though."
"Then I'm coming over, and hear what it is. If you decide to go, maybe you'll take me along."
"I certainly will, and Mr. Damon, too."
"How about the giant?"
"Well, I guess there'll be room for him. But I haven't decided yet. Hand me that wrench over there; will you," and then Tom and Ned began talking about the new apparatus on which the young inventor was working.
True to his promise Mr. Period called the next evening. He found Tom, Ned and Mr. Swift in the library, talking over various matters.
"Well, Tom, have you made up your mind?" asked the caller, when Mrs. Baggert, the housekeeper, had shown him into the room. "I hope you have, and I hope it is favorable to me."
"Yes," said Tom slowly, "I've thought it all over, and I have decided that I will—"
At that moment there was a loud shouting outside the house, and the sound of some one running rapidly through the garden that was just outside the low library window—a garden now buried deep under snow.
"What's that?" cried Ned, jumping to his feet.
"That was Koku's voice," replied Tom, "and I guess he was chasing after some one."
"They'll need help if that giant gets hold of them," spoke Mr. Period solemnly, while the noise outside increased in volume.
"Here, Tom! Come back! Where are you going?" cried aged Mr. Swift, as his son started toward the window.
"I'm going to see what's up, and who it is that Koku is chasing," replied the young inventor.
As he spoke he opened the window, which went all the way down to the floor. He stepped out on a small balcony, put his hand on the railing, and was about to leap over. Back of him was his father, Mr. Period and Ned.
"Come back! You may get hurt!" urged Mr. Swift. He had aged rapidly in the last few months, and had been obliged to give up most of his inventive work. Naturally, he was very nervous about his son.
"Don't worry, dad," replied the youth. "I'm not in much danger when Koku is around."
"That's right," agreed the moving picture man. "I'd sooner have that giant look after me than half a dozen policemen."
The noise had now grown fainter, but the sound of the pursuit could still be heard. Koku was shouting in his hearty tones, and there was the noise of breaking twigs as the chase wound in and out of the garden shrubbery.
Tom paused a moment, to let his eyes get somewhat used to the darkness. There was a crescent moon, that gave a little light, and the snow on the ground made it possible to notice objects fairly well.
"See anything?" asked Ned, as he joined his chum on the balcony.
"No, but I'm going to have a closer look. Here goes!" and Tom leaped to the ground.
"I'm with you," added Ned, as he followed.
Then came another voice, shouting:
"Dat's de way! Catch him! I'se comm', I is! Ef we gits him we'll tie him up, an' let Boomerang walk on him!"
"Here comes Eradicate," announced Tom, with a look back toward his chum, and a moment later the aged colored man, who had evidently started on the chase with Koku, but who had been left far behind, swung totteringly around the corner of the house.
"Did ye cotch him, Massa Tom?" asked Eradicate. "Did ye cotch de raskil?"
"Not yet, Rad. But Koku is after him. Who was he, and what did he do?"
"Didn't do nuffin yit, Massa Tom, 'case as how he didn't git no chance," replied the colored man, as he hurried along as rapidly as he could beside the two youths. "Koku and I was too quick for him. Koku an' me was a-sittin' in my shack, sort of talkin' togedder, when we hears a racket neah de chicken house. I'se mighty partial t' de chickens, an' I didn't want nobody t' 'sturb 'em. Koku was jes' de same, an' when we hears dat noise, up we jumps, an' gits t' chasm.' He runned dis way, an' us was arter him, but land lub yo', ole Eradicate ain't so spry as he uster be an' Koku an' de chicken thief got ahead ob me. Leastwise he ain't no chicken thief yit, 'case as how he didn't git in de coop, but he meant t' be one, jes' de same."
"Are you sure he was after the chickens?" asked Tom, with quick suspicion in his mind, for, several times of late, unscrupulous persons had tried to enter his shop, to get knowledge of his valuable inventions before they were patented.
"Course he were arter de chickens," replied Eradicate. "But he didn't git none."
"Come on, Ned!" cried Tom, breaking into a run. "I want to catch whoever this was. Did you see him, Rad?"
"Only jes' had a glimpse ob his back."
"Well, you go back to the house and tell father and Mr. Period about it. Ned and I will go on with Koku. I hope to get the fellow."
"Why, Tom?" asked his chum.
"Because I think he was after bigger game than chickens. My noiseless motor, for the new airship, is nearly complete, and it may have been some one trying to get that. I received an offer from a concern the other day, who wished to purchase it, and, when I refused to sell, they seemed rather put out."
The two lads raced on, while Eradicate tottered back to the house, where he found Mr. Swift and the picture man awaiting him.
"I guess he got away," remarked Ned, after he and his chum had covered nearly the length of the big garden.
"I'm afraid so," agreed Tom. "I can't hear Koku any more. Still, I'm not going to give up."
Pantingly they ran on, and, a little later, they met the big man coming back.
"Did he get away?" asked Tom.
"Yes, Mr. Tom, he scaped me all right."
"Escaped you mean, Koku. Well, never mind. You did your best."
"I would like to have hold of him," spoke the giant, as he stretched out his big arms.
"Did you know who he was?" inquired Ned.
"No, I couldn't see his face," and he gave the same description of the affair as had Eradicate.
"Was it a full grown man, or some one about my size?" Tom wanted to know.
"A man," replied the giant.
"Why do you ask that?" inquired Ned, as the big fellow went on to resume his talk with Eradicate, and the two chums turned to go into the house, after the fruitless chase.
"Because, I thought it might be Andy Foger," was Tom's reply. "It would be just like him, but if it was a man, it couldn't be him. Andy's rather short."
"Besides, he doesn't live here any more," said Ned.
"I know, but I heard Sam Snedecker, who used to be pretty thick with him, saying the other day that he expected a visit from Andy. I hope he doesn't come back to Shopton, even for a day, for he always tries to make trouble for me. Well, let's go in, and tell 'em all about our chase after a chicken thief."
"And so he got away?" remarked Mr. Swift, when Tom had completed his story.
"Yes," answered the young inventor, as he closed, and locked, the low library window, for there was a chilly breeze blowing. "I think I will have to rig up the burglar alarm on my shop again. I don't want to take any chances."
"Do you remember what we were talking about, when that interruption came?" asked Mr. Period, after a pause. "You were saying, Tom, that you had made up your mind, and that was as far as you got. What is your answer to my offer?"
"Well," spoke the lad slowly, and with a smile, "I think I will—"
"Now don't say 'no'"; interrupted the picture man. "If you are going to say 'no' take five minutes more, or even ten, and think it over carefully. I want you—"
"I wasn't going to say 'no,'" replied Tom. "I have decided to accept your offer, and I'll get right at work on the electrical camera, and see what I can do in the way of getting moving pictures for you."
"You will? Say, that's great! That's fine! I knew you would accept, but I was the least bit afraid you might not, without more urging."
"Of course," began Tom, "it will take—"
"Not another word. Just wait a minute," interrupted Mr. Period in his breezy fashion. "Take this."
He quickly filled out a check and handed it to Tom.
"Now sign this contract, which merely says that you will do your best to get pictures for me, and that you won't do it for any other concern, and everything will be all right. Sign there," he added, pointing to a dotted line, and thrusting a fountain pen into Tom's hand. The lad read over the agreement, which was fair enough, and signed it, and Ned affixed his name as a witness.
"Now when can you go?" asked Mr. Period eagerly.
"Not before Spring, I'm afraid," replied Torn. "I have first to make the camera, and then my airship needs overhauling if I am to go on such long trips as will be necessary in case I am to get views of wild beasts in the jungle."
"Well, make it as soon as you can," begged Mr. Period. "I can have the films early next Fall then, and they will be in season for the Winter runs at the theatres. Now, I'm the busiest man in the world, and I believe I have lost five hundred dollars by coming here to-night. Still, I don't regret it. I'm going back now, and I'll expect to hear from you when you are ready to start. There's my address. Good-bye," and thrusting a card into Tom's hand he hurried out of the room.
"Won't you stop all night?" called Mr. Swift after him.
"Sorry. I'd like to but can't. Got a big contract I must close in New York to-morrow morning. I've ordered a special train to be at the Shopton station in half an hour, and I must catch that. Good night!" and Mr. Period hurried away.
"Say, he's a hustler all right!" exclaimed Ned.
"Yes, and I've got to hustle if I invent that camera," added Tom. "It's got to be a specially fast one, and one that can take pictures from a long distance. Electricity is the thing to use, I guess."
"Then you are really going off on this trip. Tom?" asked his father, rather wistfully.
"I'm afraid I am," replied his son. "I thought I could stay at home for a while, but it seems not."
"I was in hopes you could give me a little time to help me on my gyroscope invention," went on the aged man. "But I suppose it will keep until you come back. It is nearly finished."
"Yes, and I don't like stopping work on my noiseless motor," spoke Tom. "But that will have to wait, too."
"Do you know where you are going?" inquired Ned.
"Well, I'll have to do considerable traveling I suppose to get all the films he wants. But once I'm started I'll like it I guess. Of course you're coming, Ned."
"I hope so."
"Of course you are!" insisted Tom, as if that settled it. "And I'm sure Mr. Damon will go also. I haven't seen him in some time. I hope he isn't ill."
Tom started work on his Wizard Camera, as he called it, the next day—that is he began drawing the designs, and planning how to construct it. Ned helped him, and Koku was on hand in case he was needed, but there was little he could do, as yet. Tom made an inspection of his shop the morning after the chicken thief scare, but nothing seemed to have been disturbed.
A week passed, and Tom had all the plans drawn for the camera. He had made several experiments with different forms of electricity for operating the mechanism, and had decided on a small, but very powerful, storage battery to move the film, and take the pictures.
This storage battery, which would be inside the camera, would operate it automatically. That is, the camera could be set up any place, in the jungle, or on the desert, it could be left alone, and would take pictures without any one being near it. Tom planned to have it operate at a certain set time, and stop at a certain time, and he could set the dials to make this time any moment of the day or night. For there was to be a powerful light in connection with the camera, in order that night views might be taken. Besides being automatic the camera could be worked by hand.
When it was not necessary to have the camera operate by the storage battery, it could be connected to wires and worked by an ordinary set of batteries, or by a dynamo. This was for use on the airship, where there was a big electrical machine. I shall tell you more about the camera as the story proceeds.
One afternoon Tom was alone in the shop, for he had sent Koku on an errand, and Eradicate was off in a distant part of the grounds, doing some whitewashing, which was his specialty. Ned had not come over, and Mr. Swift, having gone to see some friends, and Mrs. Baggert being at the store, Tom, at this particular time, was rather isolated.
He was conducting some delicate electrical experiments, and to keep the measuring instruments steady he had closed all the windows and doors of his shop. The young inventor was working at a bench in one corner, and near him, standing upright, was a heavy shaft of iron, part of his submarine, wrapped in burlap, and padded, to keep it from rusting.
"Now," said Tom to himself, as he mixed two kinds of acid in a jar, to produce a new sort of electrical current, "I will see if this is any better than the first way in which I did it."
He was careful about pouring out the powerful stuff, but, in spite of this, he spilled a drop on his finger. It burned like fire, and, instinctively, he jerked his hand back.
The next instant there was a series of happenings. Tom's elbow came in contact with another jar of acid, knocking it over, and spilling it into the retort where he had been mixing the first two liquids. There was a hissing sound, as the acids combined, and a thick, white vapor arose, puffing into Tom's face, and making him gasp.
He staggered back, brushed against the heavy iron shaft in the corner, and it fell sideways against him, knocking him to the floor, and dropping across his thighs. The padding on it saved him from broken bones, but the shaft was so heavy, that after it was on him, Tom could not move. He was held fast on the floor of his shop, unable to use his legs, and prevented from getting up.
For a moment Tom was stunned, and then he called:
"Help! Help! Eradicate! Koku! Help!"
He waited a moment, but there was only a silence.
And then Tom smelled a strange odor—an odor of a choking gas that seemed to smother him.
"It's the acids!" he cried. "They're generating gas! And I'm held fast here! The place is closed up tight, and I can't move! Help! Help!"
But there was no one at hand to aid Tom, and every moment the fumes of the gas became stronger. Desperately the youth struggled to rid himself of the weight of the shaft, but he could not. And then he felt his senses leaving him, for the powerful gas was making him unconscious.
TOM GETS A WARNING
"Bless my shoe buttons!" exclaimed a voice, as a man came toward Tom's shop, a little later. "Bless my very necktie! This is odd. I go to the house, and find no one there. I come out here, and not a soul is about. Tom Swift can't have gone off on another one of his wonderful trips, without sending me word. I know he wouldn't do that. And yet, bless my watch and chain, I can't find any one!"
It was Mr. Damon who spoke, as my old readers have already guessed. He peered into one of the shop windows, and saw something like a fog filling the place.
"That's strange," he went on. "I don't see Tom there, and yet it looks as if an experiment was going on. I wonder—"
Mr. Damon heard some one coming up behind him, and turned to see Koku the giant, who was returning from the errand on which Tom had sent him.
"Oh, Koku, it's you; is it?" the odd man asked. "Bless my cuff buttons! Where is Tom?"
"In shop I guess."
"I don't see him. Still I had better look. There doesn't seem to be any one about."
Mr. Damon opened the shop door, and was met by such an outward rush of choking gas that he staggered back.
"Bless my—" he began but he had to stop, to cough and gasp. "There must have been some sort of an accident," he cried, as he got his lungs full of fresh air. "A bad accident! Tom could never work in that atmosphere. Whew!"
"Accident! What is matter?" cried Koku stepping to the doorway. He, too choked and gasped, but his was such a strong and rugged nature, and his lungs held such a supply of air, that it took more than mere gas to knock him out. He peered in through the wreaths of the acid vapor, and saw the body of his master, lying on the floor—held down by the heavy iron.
In another instant Koku had rushed in, holding his breath, for, now that he was inside the place, the gas made even him feel weak.
"Come back! Come back!" cried Mr. Damon. "You'll be smothered! Wait until the gas escapes!"
"Then Mr. Tom die!" cried the giant. "I get him—or I no come out."
With one heave of his powerful right arm, Koku lifted the heavy shaft from Tom's legs. Then, gathering the lad up in his left arm, as if he were a baby, Koku staggered out into the fresh air, almost falling with his burden, as he neared Mr. Damon, for the giant was, well-nigh overcome.
"Bless my soul!" cried the odd man. "Is he—is he—"
He did not finish the sentence, but, as Koku laid Tom down on the overcoat of Mr. Damon, which the latter quickly spread on the snow, the eccentric man put his hand over the heart of the young inventor.
"It beats!" he murmured. "He's alive, but very weak. We must get a doctor at once. I'll do what I can. There's no time to spare. Bless my—"
But Mr. Damon concluded that there was no time for blessing anything, and so he stopped short.
"Carry him up to the house, Koku," he said. "I know where there are some medicines, and I'll try to revive him while we're waiting for the doctor Hurry!"
Tom was laid on a lounge, and, just then, Mrs. Baggert came in.
"Telephone for the doctor!" cried Mr. Damon to the housekeeper, who kept her nerve, and did not get excited. "I'll give Tom some ammonia, and other stimulants, and see if I can bring him around. Koku, get me some cold water."
The telephone was soon carrying the message to the doctor, who promised to come at once. Koku, in spite of his size, was quick, and soon brought the water, into which Mr. Damon put some strong medicine, that he found in a closet. Tom's eyelids fluttered as the others forced some liquid between his lips.
"He's coming around!" cried the eccentric man. "I guess he'll be all right, Koku."
"Koku glad," said the giant simply, for he loved Tom with a deep devotion.
"Yes, Koku, if it hadn't been for you, though, I don't believe that he would be alive. That was powerful gas, and a few seconds more in there might have meant the end of Tom. I didn't see him lying on the floor, until after you rushed in. Bless my thermometer! It is very strange."
They gave Tom more medicine, rubbed his arms and legs, and held ammonia under his nose. Slowly he opened his eyes, and in a faint voice asked:
"In your own house," replied Mr. Damon, cheerfully. "How do you feel?"
"I'm—all—right—now," said Tom slowly. He, felt his strength coming gradually back, and he remembered what had happened, though he did not yet know how he had been saved. The doctor came in at this moment, with a small medical battery, which completed the restorative work begun by the others. Soon Tom could sit up, though he was still weak and rather sick.
"Who brought me out?" he asked, when he had briefly told how the accident occurred.
"Koku did," replied Mr. Damon. "I guess none of the rest of us could have lifted the iron shaft from your legs."
"It's queer how that fell," said Tom, with a puzzled look on his face. "I didn't hit it hard enough to bring it down. Beside, I had it tied to nails, driven into the wall, to prevent just such an accident as this. I must see about it when I get well."
"Not for a couple of days," exclaimed the doctor grimly. "You've got to stay in bed a while yet. You had a narrow escape, Tom Swift."
"Well, I'm glad I went to Giant Land," said the young inventor, with a wan smile. "Otherwise I'd never have Koku," and he looked affectionately at the big man, who laughed happily. In nature Koku was much like a child.
Mr. Swift came home a little later, and Ned Newton called, both being very much surprised to hear of the accident. As for Eradicate, the poor old colored man was much affected, and would have sat beside Tom's bed all night, had they allowed him.
Our hero recovered rapidly, once the fumes of the gas left his system, and, two days later, he was able to go out to the shop again. At his request everything had been left just as it was after he had been brought out. Of course the fumes of the gas were soon dissipated, when the door was opened, and the acids, after mingling and giving off the vapor, had become neutralized, so that they were now harmless.
"Now I'm going to see what made that shaft fall," said Tom to Ned, as the two chums walked over to the bench where the young inventor had been working. "The tap I gave it never ought to have brought it down."
Together they examined the thin, but strong, cords that had been passed around the shaft, having been fastened to two nails, driven into the wall.
"Look!" cried Tom, pointing to one of the cords.
"What is it?" asked Ned.
"The strands were partly cut through, so that only a little jar was enough to break the remaining ones," went on Tom. "They've been cut with a knife, too, and not frayed by vibration against the nail, as might be the case. Ned, someone has been in my shop, meddling, and he wanted this shaft to fall. This is a trick!"
"Great Scott, Tom! You don't suppose any one wanted that shaft to fall on you; do you?"
"No, I don't believe that. Probably some one wanted to damage the shaft, or he might have thought it would topple over against the bench, and break some of my tools, instruments or machinery. I do delicate experiments here, and it wouldn't take much of a blow to spoil them. That's why those cords were cut."
"Who did it? Do you think Andy Foger—"
"No, I think it was the man Koku thought was a chicken thief, and whom we chased the other night. I've got to be on my guard. I wonder if—"
Tom was interrupted by the appearance of Koku, who came out of the shop with a letter the postman had just left.
"I don't know that writing very well, and yet it looks familiar," said Tom, as he tore open the missive. "Hello, here's more trouble!" he exclaimed as he hastily read it.
"What's up now?" asked Ned.
"This is from Mr. Period, the picture man," went on the young inventor. "It's a warning."
"Yes. He says:
"'Dear Tom. Be on your guard. I understand that a rival moving picture concern is after you. They want to make you an offer, and get you away from me. But I trust you. Don't have anything to do with these other fellows. And, at the same time, don't give them a hint as to our plans. Don't tell them anything about your new camera. There is a lot of jealousy and rivalry in this business and they are all after me. They'll probably come to see you, but be on your guard. They know that I have been negotiating with you. Remember the alarm the other night.'"
TRYING THE CAMERA
"Well, what do you think of that?" cried Ned, as his chum finished.
"It certainly isn't very pleasant," replied Tom. "I wonder why those chaps can't let me alone? Why don't they invent cameras of their own? Why are they always trying to get my secret inventions?"
"I suppose they can't do things for themselves," answered Ned. "And then, again, your machinery always works, Tom, and some that your rivals make, doesn't."
"Well, maybe that's it," admitted our hero, as he put away the letter. "I will be on the watch, just as I have been before. I've got the burglar alarm wires adjusted on the shop now, and when these rival moving picture men come after me they'll get a short answer."
For several days nothing happened, and Tom and Ned worked hard on the Wizard Camera. It was nearing completion, and they were planning, soon, to give it a test, when, one afternoon, two strangers, in a powerful automobile, came to the Swift homestead. They inquired for Tom, and, as he was out in the shop, with Ned and Koku, and as he often received visitors out there, Mrs. Baggert sent out the two men, who left their car in front of the house.
As usual, Tom had the inner door to his shop locked, and when Koku brought in a message that two strangers would like to see the young inventor, Tom remarked:
"I guess it's the rival picture men, Ned. We'll see what they have to say."
"Which of you is Tom Swift?" asked the elder of the two men, as Tom and Ned entered the front office, for our hero knew better than to admit the strangers to the shop.
"I am," replied Tom.
"Well, we're men of business," went on the speaker, "and there is no use beating about the bush. I am Mr. Wilson Turbot, and this is my partner, Mr. William Eckert. We are in the business of making moving picture films, and I understand that you are associated with Mr. Period in this line. 'Spotty' we call him."
"Yes, I am doing some work for Mr. Period," admitted Tom, cautiously.
"Have you done any yet?"
"No, but I expect to."
"What kind of a camera are you going to use?" asked Mr. Eckert eagerly.
"I must decline to answer that," replied Tom, a bit stiffly.
"Oh, that's all right," spoke Mr. Turbot, good naturedly. "Only 'Spotty' was bragging that you were making a new kind of film for him, and we wondered if it was on the market."
"We are always looking for improvements," added Mr. Eckert.
"This camera isn't on the market," replied Tom, on his guard as to how he answered.
The two men whispered together for a moment, and then Mr. Turbot said:
"Well, as I remarked, we're men of business, and there's no use beating about the bush. We've heard of you, Tom Swift, and we know you can do things. Usually, in this world, every man has his price, and we're willing to pay big to get what we want. I don't know what offer Mr. Period made to you, but I'll say this: We'll give you double what he offered, for the exclusive rights to your camera, whenever it's on the market, and we'll pay you a handsome salary to work for us."
"I'm sorry, but I can't consider the offer," replied Tom firmly. "I have given my word to Mr. Period. I have a contract with him, and I cannot break it."
"Offer him three times what Period did," said Mr. Eckert, in a hoarse whisper that Tom heard.
"It would be useless!" exclaimed our hero. "I wouldn't go back on my word for a hundred times the price I am to get. I am not in this business so much for the money, as I am for the pleasure of it."
The men were silent a moment. There were ugly looks on their faces. They looked sharply at Tom and Ned. Then Mr. Eckert said:
"You'll regret this, Tom Swift. We are the biggest firm of moving picture promoters in the world. We always get what we want."
"You won't get my camera," replied Tom calmly.
"I don't know about that!" exclaimed Mr. Turbot, as he made a hasty stride toward Tom, who stood in front of the door leading to the shop—the shop where his camera, almost ready for use, was on a bench. "I guess if we—"
"Koku!" suddenly called Tom.
The giant stepped into the front office. He had been standing near the door, inside the main shop. Mr. Turbot who had stretched forth his hand, as though to seize Tom, and his companion, who had advanced toward Ned, fairly jumped back in fright at the sight of the big man.
"Koku," went on Tom, in even tones, "just show these gentlemen to the front door—and lock it after them," he added significantly, as he turned back into the shop, followed by Ned.
"Yes, Mr. Tom," answered the giant, and then, with his big hand, and brawny fist, he gently turned the two men toward the outer door. They were gasping in surprise as they looked at the giant.
"You'll be sorry for this, Tom Swift!" exclaimed Mr. Turbot. "You'll regret not having taken our offer. This Period chat is only a small dealer. We can do better by you. You'll regret—"
"You'll regret coming here again," snapped Tom, as he closed the door of his shop, leaving Koku to escort the baffled plotters to their auto. Shortly afterward Tom and Ned heard the car puffing away.
"Well, they came, just as Mr. Period said they would," spoke Tom, slowly.
"Yes, and they went away again!" exclaimed Ned with a laugh. "They had their trip for nothing. Say, did you see how they stared at Koku?"
"Yes, he's a helper worth having, in cases like these."
Tom wrote a full account of what had happened and sent it to Mr. Period. He received in reply a few words, thanking him for his loyalty, and again warning him to be on his guard.
In the meanwhile, work went on rapidly on the Wizard Camera. Briefly described it was a small square box, with a lens projecting from it. Inside, however, was complicated machinery, much too complicated for me to describe. Tom Swift had put in his best work on this wonderful machine. As I have said, it could be worked by a storage battery, by ordinary electric current from a dynamo, or by hand. On top was a new kind of electric light. This was small and compact, but it threw out powerful beams. With the automatic arrangement set, and the light turned on, the camera could be left at a certain place after dark, and whatever went on in front of it would be reproduced on the moving roll of film inside.
In the morning the film could be taken out, developed, and the pictures thrown on a screen in the usual way, familiar to all who have been in a moving picture theatre. With the reproducing machines Tom had nothing to do, as they were already perfected. His task had been to make the new-style camera, and it was nearly completed.
A number of rolls of films could be packed into the camera, and they could be taken out, or inserted, in daylight. Of course after one film had been made, showing any particular scene any number of films could be made from this "master" one. Just as is done with the ordinary moving picture camera. Tom had an attachment to show when one roll was used, and when another needed inserting.
For some time after the visit of the rival moving picture men, Tom was on his guard. Both house and shop were fitted with burglar alarms, but they did not ring. Eradicate and Koku were told to be on watch, but there was nothing for them to do.
"Well," remarked Tom to Ned, one afternoon, when they had both worked hard, "I think it's about finished. Of course it needs polishing, and there may be some adjusting to do, but my camera is now ready to take pictures—at least I'm going to give it a test."
"Have you the rolls of films?"
"Yes, half a dozen of 'em And I'm going to try the hardest test first."
"Which one is that?"
"The night test. I'm going to place the camera out in the yard, facing my shop. Then you and I, and some of the others, will go out, pass in front of it, do various stunts, and, in the morning we'll develop the films and see what we have."
"Why, are you going to leave the camera out, all night?"
"Sure. I'm going to give it the hardest kind of a test."
"But are you and I going to stay up all night to do stunts in front of it?"
"No, indeed. I'm going to let it take what ever pictures happen to come along to be taken after we get through making some special early ones. You see my camera will be a sort of watch dog, only of course it won't catch any one—that is, only their images will be caught on the film.
"Oh, I see," exclaimed Ned, and then he helped Tom fix the machine for the test.
WHAT THE CAMERA CAUGHT
"Well, is she working, Tom?" asked our hero's chum, a little later, when they had set the camera up on a box in the garden. It pointed toward the main shop door, and from the machine came a clicking sound. The electric light was glowing.
"Yes, it's all ready," replied Tom. "Now just act as if it wasn't there. You walk toward the shop. Do anything you please. Pretend you are coming in to see me on business. Act as if it was daytime. I'll stand here and receive you. Later, I'll get dad out here, Koku and Eradicate. I wish Mr. Period was here to see the test, but perhaps it's just as well for me to make sure it works before he sees it."
"All right, Tom, here I come."
Ned advanced toward the shop. He tried to act as though the camera was not taking pictures of him, at the rate of several a second, but he forgot himself, and turned to look at the staring lens. Then Tom, with a laugh, advanced to meet him, shaking hands with him. Then the lads indulged in a little skylarking. They threw snowballs at each other, taking care, however to keep within range of the lens. Of course when Tom worked the camera himself, he could point it wherever he wanted to, but it was now automatic.
Then the lads went to the shop, and came out again. They did several other things. Later Koku, and Eradicate did some "stunts," as Tom called them. Mr. Swift, too, was snapped, but Mrs. Baggert refused to come out.
"Well, I guess that will do for now," said Tom, as he stopped the mechanism. "I've just thought of something," he added. "If I leave the light burning, it will scare away, before they got in front of the lens, any one who might come along. I'll have to change that part of it."
"How can you fix it?" asked Ned.
"Easily. I'll rig up some flash lights, just ordinary photographing flashlights, you know. I'll time them to go off one after the other, and connect them with an electric wire to the door of my shop."
"Then your idea is—" began Ned.
"That some rascals may try to enter my shop at night. Not this particular night, but any night. If they come to-night we'll be ready for them."
"An' can't yo'-all take a picture ob de chicken coop?" asked Eradicate. "Dat feller may come back t' rob mah hens."
"With the lens pointing toward the shop," spoke Tom, "it will also take snap shots of any one who tries to enter the coop. So, if the chicken thief does come, Rad, we'll have a picture of him."
Tom and Ned soon had the flashlights in place, and then they went to bed, listening, at times, for the puff that would indicate that the camera was working. But the night passed without incident, rather to Tom's disappointment. However, in the morning, he developed the film of the first pictures taken in the evening. Soon they were dry enough to be used in the moving picture machine, which Tom had bought, and set up in a dark room.
"There we are!" he cried, as the first images were thrown on the white screen. "As natural as life, Ned! My camera works all right!"
"That's so. Look! There's where I hit you with a snowball!" cried his chum, as the skylarking scene was reached.
"Mah goodness!" cried Eradicate, when he saw himself walking about on the screen, as large as life. "Dat shorely am wonderful."
"It is spirits!" cried Koku, as he saw himself depicted.
"I wish we had some of the other pictures to show," spoke Tom. "I mean some unexpected midnight visitors."
For several nights in succession the camera was set to "snap" any one who might try to enter the shop. The flashlights were also in place. Tom and Ned, the latter staying at his chum's house that week, were beginning to think they would have their trouble for their pains. But one night something happened.
It was very dark, but the snow on the ground made a sort of glow that relieved the blackness. The camera had been set as usual, and Tom and Ned went to bed.
It must have been about midnight when they were both awakened by hearing the burglar alarm go off. At the same time there were several flashes of fire from the garden.
"There she goes!" cried Ned.
"Yes, they're trying to get into the shed," added Tom, as a glance at the burglar-alarm indicator on the wall of the room, showed that the shop door was being tried. "Come on!"
"I'm with you!" yelled Ned.
They lost little time getting into their clothes, for they had laid them out in readiness for putting on quickly. Down the stairs they raced, but ere they reached the garden they heard footsteps running along the wall toward the road.
"Who's there?" cried Tom, but there was no answer.
"Koku! Eradicate!" yelled Ned.
"Yais, sah, I'se comm'!" answered the colored man, and the voice of the giant was also heard. The flashlights had ceased popping before this, and when the two lads and their helpers had reached the shop, there was no one in sight.
"The camera's there all right!" cried Tom in relief as he picked it up from the box. "Now to see what it caught. Did you see anything of the fellows, Koku, or Eradicate?" Both said they had not, but Eradicate, after examining the chicken house door by the aid of a lighted match, cried out:
"Somebody's been tryin' t' git in heah, Massa Tom. I kin see where de do's been scratched."
"Well, maybe we'll have the picture for you to look at in the morning," said Tom.
The films were developed in the usual way in the morning, but the pictures were so small that Tom could not make out the features or forms of the men. And it was plain that at least three men had been around the coop and shop.
By the use of alcohol and an electric fan Tom soon had the films dry enough to use. Then the moving picture machine was set up in a dark room, and all gathered to see what would be thrown on the screen, greatly enlarged.
First came several brilliant flashes of light, and then, as the entrance to the shop loomed into view, a dark figure seemed to walk across the canvas. But it did not stop at the shop door. Instead it went to the chicken coop, and, as the man reached that door, he began working to get it open. Of course it had all taken place in a few seconds, for, as soon as the flashlights went off, the intruders had run away. But they had been there long enough to have their pictures taken.
The man at the chicken coop turned around as the lights flashed, and he was looking squarely at the camera. Of course this made his face very plain to the audience, as Tom turned the crank of the reproducing machine.
"Why, it's a colored man!" cried Ned in surprise.
"Yes, I guess it's only an ordinary chicken thief, after all," remarked Tom.
There was a gasp from Eradicate.
"Fo' de land sakes!" he cried. "De raskil! Ef dat ain't mah own second cousin, what libs down by de ribber! An' to t'ink dat Samuel 'Rastus Washington Jackson Johnson, mah own second cousin, should try t' rob mah chicken coop! Oh, won't I gib it t' him!"
"Are you sure, Rad?" asked Tom.
"Suah? Sartin I'se suah, Massa Tom," was the answer as the startled colored man on the screen stared at the small audience. "I'd know dat face ob his'n anywhere."
"Well, I guess he's the only one we caught last night," said Tom, as the disappointed chicken thief ran away, and so out of focus But the next instant there came another series of flashlight explosions on the screen, and there, almost as plainly as if our friends were looking at them, they saw two men stealthily approaching the shop. They, too, as the chicken thief had done, tried the door, and then, they also, startled by the flashes, turned around.
"Look!" cried Ned.
"Great Scott!" exclaimed Tom. "Those are the two rivals of Mr. Period! They are Mr. Turbot and Mr. Eckert!"
"Same men I pushed out!" cried Koku, much excited.
There was no doubt of it, and, as the images faded from the screen, caused by the men running away, Tom and Ned realized that their rivals had tried to put their threat into execution—the threat of making Tom wish he had taken their offer.
"I guess they came to take my camera,—but, instead the camera took them," said the young inventor grimly.
PHOTOS FROM THE AIRSHIP
"Well, Tom, how is it going?" asked a voice at the door of the shop where the young inventor was working. He looked up quickly to behold Mr. Nestor, father of Mary, in which young lady, as I have said, Tom was much interested. "How is the moving picture camera coming on?"
"Pretty good, Mr. Nestor. Come in. I guess Koku knew you all right. I told him to let in any of my friends, but I have to keep him there on guard."
"So I understand. They nearly got in the other night, but I hear that your camera caught them."
"Yes, that proved that the machine is a success, even if we didn't succeed in arresting the men."
"Did you try?"
"Yes, I sent copies of the film, showing Turbot and Eckert trying to break into my shop, to Mr. Period, and he had enlarged photographs made, and went to the police. They said it was rather flimsy evidence on which to arrest anybody, and so they didn't act. However, we sent copies of the pictures to Turbot and Eckert themselves, so they know that we know they were here, and I guess they'll steer clear of me after this."
"I guess so, Tom," agreed Mr. Nestor with a laugh. "But what about the chicken thief?"
"Oh, Eradicate attended to his second cousin. He went to see him, showed him a print from the film, and gave him to understand that he'd be blown up with dynamite, or kicked by Boomerang, if he ever came around here again, and so Samuel 'Rastus Washington Jackson Johnson will be careful about visiting strange chicken coops, after this."
"I believe you, Tom. But how is the camera coming on?"
"Very well. I am making a few changes in it, and I expect to get my biggest airship in readiness for the trip in about a week, and then I'll try taking pictures from her. But I understand that you are interested in Mr. Period's business, Mr. Nestor?"
"Yes, I own some stock in the company, and, Tom, that's what I came over to see you about. I need a vacation. Mary and her mother are going away this Spring for a long visit, and I was wondering if you couldn't take me with you on the trips you will make to get moving pictures for our concern."
"Of course I can, Mr. Nestor. I'll be glad to do it."
"And there is another thing, Tom," went on Mr. Nestor, soberly. "I've got a good deal of my fortune tied up in this moving picture affair. I want to see you win out—I don't want our rivals to get ahead of us."
"They shan't get ahead of us."
"You see, Tom, it's this way. There is a bitter fight on between our concern and that controlled by our rivals. Each is trying to get the business of a large chain of moving picture theatres throughout the United States. These theatre men are watching us both, and the contracts for next season will go to the concern showing the best line of films. If our rivals get ahead of us—well, it will just about ruin our company,—and about ruin me too, I guess."
"I shall do my very best," answered our hero.
"Is Mr. Damon going along?"
"Well, I have just written to ask him. I sent the letter yesterday.
"Doesn't he know what you contemplate?"
"Not exactly. You see when he came, that time I was overcome by the fumes from the acids, everything was so upset that I didn't get a chance to tell him. He's been away on business ever since, but returned yesterday. I certainly hope that he goes with us. Ned Newton is coming, and with you, and Koku and myself, it will be a nicer party."
"Then you are going to take Koku?"
"I think I will. I'm a little worried about what these rival moving picture men might do, and if I get into trouble with them, my giant helper would come in very useful, to pick one up and throw him over a tree top, for instance."
"Indeed, yes," agreed Mr. Nestor, with a laugh. "But I hope nothing like that happens."
"Nothing like that happens?" suddenly asked a voice. "Bless my bookcase! but there always seems to be something going on here. What's up now, Tom Swift?"
"Nothing much, Mr. Damon," replied our hero, as he recognized his odd friend. "We were just talking about moving pictures, Mr. Damon, and about you. Did you get my letter?"
"I did, Tom."
"And are you going with us?"
"Tom, did you ever know me to refuse an invitation from you? I guess not! Of course I'm going. But, for mercy sakes, don't tell my wife! She mustn't know about it until the last minute, and then she'll be so surprised, when I tell her, that she won't think of objecting. Don't let her know."
Tom laughed, and promised, and then the three began talking of the prospective trip. After a bit Ned Newton joined the party.
Tom showed the two men how his new camera worked. He had made several improvements on it since the first pictures were taken, and now it was almost perfect. Mr. Period had been out to see it work, and said it was just the apparatus needed.
"You can get films with that machine," he said, "that will be better than any pictures ever thrown on a screen. My fortune will be made, Tom, and yours too, if you can only get pictures that are out of the ordinary. There will be some hair-raising work, I expect, but you can do it."
"I'll try," spoke Tom. "I have—"
"Hold on! I know what you are going to say," interrupted Mr. Period. "You are going to say that you've gone through some strenuous times already. I know you have, but you're going to have more soon. I think I'll send you to India first."
"To India!" exclaimed Tom, for Mr. Period had spoken of that as if it was but a journey downtown.
"Yes, India. I want a picture of an elephant drive, and if you can get pictures of the big beasts in a stampede, so much the better. Then, too, the Durbar is on now, and that will make a good film. How soon can you start for Calcutta?"
"Well, I've got to overhaul the airship," said Tom. "That will take about three weeks. The camera is practically finished. I can leave in a month, I guess."
"Good. We'll have fine weather by that time. Are you going all the way by your airship?"
"No, I think it will be best to take that apart, ship it by steamer, and go that way ourselves. I can put the airship together in India, and then use it to get to any other part of Europe, Asia or Africa you happen to want pictures from."
"Good! Well, get to work now, and I'll see you again."
In the days that followed, Tom and Ned were kept busy. There was considerable to do on the airship, in the way of overhauling it. This craft was Tom's largest, and was almost like the one in which he had gone to the caves of ice, where it was wrecked. It had been, however, much improved.
The craft was a sort of combined dirigible balloon, and aeroplane, and could be used as either. There was a machine on board for generating gas, to use in the balloon part of it, and the ship, which was named the Flyer, could carry several persons.
"Bless my shoe laces!" cried Mr. Damon one day as he looked at Koku. "If we take him along in the airship, will we be able to float, Tom?"
"Oh, yes. The airship is plenty big enough. Besides, we are not going to take along a very large party, and the camera is not heavy. Oh, we'll be all right. I suppose you'll be on hand to-morrow, Mr. Damon?"
"To-morrow? What for?"
"We're going to take the picture machine up in the airship, and get some photos from the sky. I expect to make some films from high in the air, as well as some in the regular way, on the ground, and I want a little practice. Come around about two o'clock, and we'll have a trial flight."
"All right. I will. But don't let my wife know I'm going up in an airship again. She's read of so many accidents lately, that she's nervous about having me take a trip."
"Oh, I won't tell," promised Tom with a laugh, and he worked away harder than ever, for there were many little details to perfect. The weather was now getting warm, as there was an early spring, and it was pleasant out of doors.
The moving picture camera was gotten in readiness. Extra rolls of films were on hand, and the big airship, in which they were to go up, for their first test of taking pictures from high in the air, had been wheeled out of the shed.
"Are you going up very far?" asked Mr. Nestor of Tom, and the young inventor thought that Mary's father was a trifle nervous. He had not made many flights, and then only a little way above the ground, with Tom.
"Not very high," replied our hero. "You see I want to get pictures that will be large, and if I'm too far away I can't do it."
"Glad to hear it," replied Mr. Nestor, with a note of relief in his voice. "Though I suppose to fall a thousand feet isn't much different from falling a hundred when you consider the results."
"Not much," admitted Tom frankly.
"Bless my feather bed!" cried Mr. Damon. "Please don't talk of falling, when we're going up in an airship. It makes me nervous."
"We'll not fall!" declared Tom confidently.
Mr. Period sent his regrets, that he could not be present at the trial, stating in his letter that he was the busiest man in the world, and that his time was worth about a dollar a minute just at present. He, however, wished Tom all success. Tom's first effort was to sail along, with the lens of the camera pointed straight toward the earth. He would thus get, if successful, a picture that, when thrown on the screen, would give the spectators the idea that they were looking down from a moving balloon. For that reason Tom was not going to fly very high, as he wanted to get all the details possible.
"All aboard!" cried the young inventor, when he had seen to it that his airship was in readiness for a flight. The camera had been put aboard, and the lens pointed toward earth through a hole in the main cabin floor. All who were expected to make the trip with Tom were on hand, Koku taking the place of Eradicate this time, as the colored man was too aged and feeble to go along.
"All ready?" asked Ned, who stood in the steering tower, with his hand on the starting lever, while Tom was at the camera to see that it worked properly.
"All ready," answered the young inventor, and, an instant later, they shot upward, as the big propellers whizzed around.
Tom at once started the camera to taking pictures rapidly, as he wanted the future audience to get a perfect idea of how it looked to go up in a balloon, leaving the earth behind. Then as the Flyer moved swiftly over woods and fields, Tom moved the lens from side to side, to get different views.
"Say! This is great!" cried Mr. Nestor, to whom air-riding was much of a novelty. "Are you getting good pictures, Tom?"
"I can't tell until we develop them. But the machine seems to be working all right. I'm going to sail back now, and get some views of our own house from up above."
They had sailed around the town of Shopton, to the neighboring villages, over woods and fields. Now they were approaching Shopton again.
"Bless my heart!" suddenly exclaimed Mr. Damon, who was looking toward the earth, as they neared Tom's house.
"What is it?" asked our hero, glancing up from the picture machine, the registering dial of which he was examining.
"Look there! At your shop, Tom! There seems to be a lot of smoke coming from it!"
They were almost over Tom's shop now, and, as Mr. Damon had said, there was considerable smoke rolling above it.
"I guess Eradicate is burning up papers and trash," was Ned's opinion.
Tom looked to where the camera pointed, he was right over his shop now, and could see a dense vapor issuing from the door.
"That isn't Eradicate!" cried the young inventor. "My shop is on fire! I've got to make a quick drop, and save it! There are a lot of valuable models, and machines in there! Send us down, Ned, as fast as she'll go!"
OFF FOR INDIA
"Bless my hose reel!" cried Mr. Damon, as the airship took a quick lurch toward the earth. "Things are always happening to you, Tom Swift! Your shop on fire! How did it happen?"
"Look!" suddenly cried Ned, before Tom had a chance to answer. "There's a man running away from the shop, Tom!"
All saw him, and, as the airship rushed downward it could be seen that he was a fellow dressed in ragged garments, a veritable tramp.
"I guess that fire didn't happen," said Tom significantly. "It was deliberately set. Oh, if we can only get there before it gains too much headway!"
"I like to catch that fellow!" exclaimed Koku, shaking his big fist at the retreating tramp. "I fix him!"
On rushed the airship, and the man who had probably started the fire, glanced up at it. Tom suddenly turned the lens of his Wizard Camera toward him. The mechanism inside, which had been stopped, started clicking again, as the young inventor switched on the electric current.
"What are you doing?" cried Ned, as he guided the airship toward the shop, whence clouds of smoke were rolling.
"Taking his picture," replied Tom. "It may come in useful for evidence."
But he was not able to get many views of the fellow, for the latter must have suspected what was going on. He quickly made a dive for the bushes, and was soon lost to sight. Tom shut off his camera.
"Bless my life preserver!" cried Mr. Damon. "There comes your father, Tom, and Mrs. Baggert! They've got buckets! They're going to put out the fire!"
"Why don't they think to use the hose?" cried the young inventor, for he had his shop equipped With many hose lines, and an electrically driven pump. "The hose! The hose, dad!" shouted Tom, but it is doubtful if his father or Mrs. Baggert heard him, for the engine of the airship was making much noise. However, the two with the buckets looked up, and waved their hands to those on the Flyer.
"There's Eradicate!" yelled Ned. "He's got the hose all right!" The colored man was beginning to unreel a line.
"That's what it needs!" exclaimed Tom. "Now there's some chance to save the shop."
"We'll be there ourselves to take a hand in a few seconds!" cried Mr. Damon, forgetting to bless anything.
"The scoundrel who started this fire, and those back of him, ought to be imprisoned for life!" declared Mr. Nestor.
A moment later Ned had landed the airship within a short distance of the shop. In an instant the occupants of the craft had leaped out, and Tom, after a hasty glance to see that his valuable camera was safe, dashed toward the building crying:
"Never mind the pails, dad! Use the hose! there's a nozzle at the back door. Go around there, and play the water on from that end."
Eradicate, with his line of hose, had disappeared into the shop through the front door, and the others pressed in after him, heedless of the dense smoke.
"Is it blazing much, Rad?" cried Tom.
"Can't see no blaze at all, Mass a Tom," replied the colored man. "Dere's a heap of suffin in de middle ob de flo', an' dat's what's raisin' all de rumpus."
They all saw it a moment later, a smoldering heap of rags and paper on the concrete floor of the shop. Eradicate turned his hose on it, there was a hissing sound, a cloud of steam arose, and the fire was practically out, though much smoke remained.
"Jove! that was a lucky escape!" exclaimed Tom, as he looked around when the vapor had partly cleared away. "No damage done at all, as far as I can see. I wonder what the game was? Did you see anything of a tramp around here?" he asked of his father.
"No, Tom. I have been busy in the house. So has Mrs. Baggert. Suddenly she called my attention to the smoke coming from the door, and we ran out."
"I seen it, too," added Eradicate. "I was doin' some whitewashin', an' I run up as soon as I could."
"We saw the tramp all right, but he got away," said Tom, and he told how he had taken pictures of him. "I don't believe it would be much use to look for him now, though."
"Me look," spoke Koku significantly, as he hurried off in the direction taken by the tramp. He came back later, not having found him.
"What do you think of it, Tom?" asked Ned, when the excitement had calmed down, and the pile of burned rags had been removed. It was found that oil and chemicals had been put on them to cause a dense smoke.
"I think it was the work of those fellows who are after my camera," replied the young inventor. "They are evidently watching me, and when they saw us all go off in the airship they thought probably that the coast was clear."
"But why should they start a fire?"
"I don't know, but probably to create a lot of smoke, and excitement, so that they could search, and not be detected. Maybe the fellow after he found that the camera was gone, wanted to draw those in the house out to the shop, so he could have a clear field to search in my room for any drawings that would give him a dew as to how my machine works. They certainly did not want to burn the shop, for that pile of rags could have smoldered all day on the concrete floor, without doing any harm. Robbery was the motive, I think."
"The police ought to be notified," declared Mr. Nestor. "Develop those pictures, Tom, and I'll take the matter up with the police. Maybe they can identify the tramp from the photographs."
But this proved impossible. Tom had secured several good films, not only in the first views he took, giving the spectators the impression that they were going up in an airship, but also those showing the shop on fire, and the tramp running away, were very plain.
The police made a search for the incendiary, but of course did not find him. Mr. Period came to Shopton, and declared it was his belief that his rivals, Turbot and Eckert, had had a hand in the matter. But it was only a suspicion, though Tom himself believed the same thing. Still nothing could be accomplished.
"The thing to do, now that the camera works all right, is for you to hit the trail for India at once," suggested the picture man. "They won't follow you there. Get me some pictures of the Durbar, of elephants being captured, of tiger fights, anything exciting."
"I'll do my—" began Tom.
"Wait, I'm not through," interrupted the excitable man. "Then go get some volcanoes, earthquakes—anything that you think would be interesting. I'll keep in touch with you, and cable occasionally. Get all the films you can. When will you start?"
"I can leave inside of two weeks," replied Tom.
"Then do it, and, meanwhile, be on your guard."
It was found that a few changes were needed on the camera, and some adjustments to the airship. Another trial flight was made, and some excellent pictures taken. Then Tom and his friends prepared to take the airship apart, and pack it for shipment to Calcutta. It was to go on the same steamer as themselves, and of course the Wizard Camera would accompany Tom. He took along many rolls of films, enough, he thought, for many views. He was also to send back to Mr. Period from time to time, the exposed rolls of film, so they could be developed, and printed in the United States, as Tom would not have very good facilities for this on the airship, and to reproduce them there was almost out of the question. Still he did fit up a small dark room aboard the Flyer, where he could develop pictures if he wished.
There was much to be done, but hard work accomplished it, and finally the party was ready to start for India. Tom said good-bye to Mary Nestor, of course, and her father accompanied our hero from the Nestor house to the Swift homestead, where the start was to take place.
Eradicate bade his master a tearful good-bye, and there was moisture in the eyes of Mr. Swift, as he shook hands with his son.
"Take care of yourself, Tom," he said. "Don't run too many risks. This moving picture taking isn't as easy as it sounds. It's more than just pointing your camera at things. Write if you get a chance, or send me a message."
Tom promised, and then bade farewell to Mrs. Baggert. All were assembled, Koku, Mr. Damon, who blessed everything he saw, and some things he did not, Ned, Mr. Nestor and Tom. The five were to go by train to New York, there to go aboard the steamer.
Their journey to the metropolis was uneventful. Mr. Period met them at the steamship dock, after Tom had seen to it that the baggage, and the parts of the airship were safely aboard.
"I wish I were going along!" exclaimed the picture man. "It's going to be a great trip. But I can't spare the time. I'm the busiest man in the world. I lose about a thousand dollars just coming down to see you off, but it's a good investment. I don't mind it. Now, Tom, good luck, and don't forget, I want exciting views."
"I'll try—" began our hero.
"Wait, I know what you're going to say!" interrupted Mr. Period. "You'll do it, of course. Well, I must be going. I will— Great Scott!" and Mr. Period interrupted himself. "He has the nerve to come here!"
"Who?" asked Tom.
"Wilson Turbot, the rascal! He's trying to balk me at the last minute, I believe. I'm going to see what he means!" and with this, the excited Mr. Period rushed down the gangplank, toward the man at whom he had pointed—one of the men who had tried to buy Tom's picture taking camera.
A moment later the steamer's whistle blew, the last belated passenger rushed up the gangplank, it was drawn in, and the vessel began to move away from the dock. Tom and his friends were on their way to India, and the last glimpse they had of Mr. Period was as he was chasing along the pier, after Mr. Turbot.