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| Home | Reading Room Tom Swift And His Electric Runabout

Tom Swift And His Electric Runabout
or The Speediest Car on the Road
by Victor Appleton

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The three cronies were in a sorrowful plight. The black fluid

dripped from them, and formed little puddles in the car. Andy had

used his handkerchief to wipe some of the stuff from his face,

but the linen was soon useless, for it quickly absorbed the blacking.

"There's a little brook over here," volunteered Tom. "You might

wash in that. The stuff comes off easily. It isn't like ink," and

he had to laugh, as he thought of the happening.

"Here! You quit that!" ordered Andy. "You've gone too far, Tom Swift!"

"Didn't I tell you it was an accident?" inquired the young inventor.

"It wasn't!" cried Sam. "You threw the bottle at us! I saw you!"

"It slipped from my pocket," declared the youth, and he

described how the accident occurred. "I'll help you clean your

car, Andy," he added.

"I don't want your help! If you come near me I'll--I'll punch

your nose!" cried Andy, now almost beside himself with rage.

"All right, if you don't want my help I don't care," answered

Tom, glad enough not to have to soil his hands and clothes. He

felt that it was partly his fault, and he would have done all he

could to remedy matters, but his good offers being declined, he

felt that it was useless to insist further.

He remounted his motor-cycle, and rode off, the last view he

had of the trio being one where they were at the edge of the

brook, trying to remove the worst traces of the black fluid. As

Tom turned around for a final glimpse, Andy shook his fist at

him, and called out something.

"I guess Andy'll have it in for me," mused Tom. "Well, I can't

help it. I owed him something on account, but I didn't figure on

paying it in just this way," and he thought of the time the bully

had locked him in the ballast tanks of the submarine, thereby

nearly smothering him to death.

That night Andy Foger told his father what had happened, for

Mr. Foger inquired the reason for the black stains on his son's

face and hands. But Andy did not give the true version. He said

Tom had purposely thrown the bottle of blacking at him.

"So that's the kind of a lad Tom Swift is, eh?" remarked Andy's

father. "Well, Andy, I think you will soon have a chance to get

even with him."

"How, pop?"

"I can't tell you now, but I have a plan for making Tom sorry

he ever did anything to you, and I will also pay back some old

scores to Mr. Swift and Mr. Damon. I'll ruin their bank for them,

that's what I'll do."

"Ruin their bank, pop? How?"

"You wait and see. The Swift crowd will get off their high

horse soon, or I'm mistaken. My plans are nearly completed, but I

can't tell you about them. I'll ruin Mr. Swift, though, that's

what I'll do," and Mr. Foger shook his head determinedly.

Tom was soon at his home, and Mrs. Baggert, hearing the noise

of his machine, as it entered the front yard, came to the side door.

"Where's my blacking?" she asked, as our hero dismounted and

untied the bundle of steel tubes he had purchased.

"I--I used it," he answered, laughing.

"Tom Swift! You don't mean to say you took my stove polish to

use in your battery, do you?"

"No, I used it to polish off Andy Foger and some of his

cronies," and the young inventor told, with much gusto, what had

happened. Mrs. Baggert could not help joining in the laugh, and

when Tom offered to ride back and purchase some more of the

polish for her, she said it did not matter, as she could wait

until the next day.

The lad was soon busy in his machine shop, making several

larger cells for the new storage battery. He wanted to give it a

more severe test. He worked for several days on this, and when he

had one unit of cells complete, he attached the motor for an

efficiency trial.

"We'll see how many miles that will make," he remarked to his father.

"Have you thought anything of the type of car you are going to

build?" asked the aged inventor of his son.

"Yes, somewhat. It will be almost of the regulation style, but

with two removable seats at the rear, with curtains for

protection, and a place in front for two persons. This can also

be protected with curtains when desired."

"But what about the motors and the battery?"

They will be located under the middle of the car. There will be

one set of batteries there, together with the motor, and another

set of batteries will be placed under the removable seats in what

I call the tonneau, though, of course, it isn't really that. A

smaller set will also be placed forward, and there will be ample

room for carrying tools and such things."

"About how far do you expect your car will go with one charging

of the battery?"

"Well, if I can make it do three hundred miles I'll be

satisfied, but I'm going to try for four hundred."

"What will you do when your battery runs out?"

"Recharge it."

"Suppose you're not near a charging station?" "Well, Dad, of

course those are some of the details I've got to work out. I'm

planning a register gauge now, that will give warning about fifty

miles before the battery is run down. That will leave me a margin

to work on. And I'm going to have it fixed so I can take current

from any trolley line, as well as from a regular charging

station. My battery will be capable of being recharged very quickly,

or, in case of need, I can take out the old cells and put in new ones.

"That's a very good idea. Well, I hope you succeed."

A few evenings after this, when Tom was busy in his machine

shop, he heard some one enter. He looked up from the gauge of the

motor, which he was studying, and, for a moment, he could make

out nothing in the dark interior of the shop, for he was working

in a brilliant light.

"Who's there?" he called sharply, for, more than once

unscrupulous men had endeavored to sneak into the Swift shops to

steal ideas of inventions; if not the actual apparatus itself.

"It's me--Ned Newton," was the cheerful reply.

"Oh, hello, Ned! I was wondering what had become of you,"

responded Tom. "Where have you been lately?"

"Oh, working overtime."

"What's the occasion?"

"We're trying out a new system to increase the bank business."

"What's the matter? Aren't you folks getting business enough,

after the big deposits we made of the bullion from the wreck?"

"Oh, it's not that. But haven't you heard the news? There is

talk of starting a rival bank in Shopton, and that may make us

hustle to hold what business we have, to say nothing of getting

new customers."

"A new bank, eh? Who's going to start it?" "Andy Foger's

father, I hear. You know he was a director in our bank, but he

got out last week."

"What for?"

"Well, he had some difficulty with Mr. Pendergast, the

president. I fancy you had something to do with it, too."

"I?" Tom was plainly surprised.

"Yes, you know you and Mr. Damon and Mr. Sharp captured the

bank robbers, and got back most of the money."

"I guess I do remember it! I wish you could have seen the gang

when we raided them from the clouds, in our airship!"

"Well, you know Andy Foger hoped to collect the five thousand

dollars reward for telling the police that you were the thief,

and of course he got fooled, for you got the reward. Mr. Foger

expected his son would collect the money, and when Andy got left,

it made him sore. He's had a grudge against Mr. Pendergast, and

all the other bank officials ever since, and now he's going to

start a rival bank. So that's why I said it was partly due to you."

"Oh, I see. I thought at first you meant that it was on account

of something that happened the other day."

"What was that?"

"Andy, Sam and Pete got the contents of a bottle of stove blacking,"

and Tom related the occurrence, at which Ned laughed heartily.

"I wouldn't be surprised though," added Ned, "to learn that Mr.

Foger started the new bank more for revenge than anything else."

"So that's the reason you've been working late, eh?" went on

Tom. "Getting ready for competition. Do you think a new bank will

hurt the one you're with?"

"Well, it might," admitted Ned. "It's bound to make a change,

anyhow, and now that I have a good position I don't want to lose

it. I take more of an interest in the institution now that I'm

assistant cashier, than I did when I was a clerk. So, naturally,

I'm a little worried."

"Say, don't let it worry you," begged Tom, earnestly.

"Why not?"

"Because I know my father and Mr. Damon will stick to the old

bank. They won't have anything to do with the one Andy Foger's

father starts. Don't you worry."

"Well, that will help some," declared Ned. "They are both heavy

depositors, and if they stick to the old bank we can stand it

even if some of our smaller customers desert us."

"That's the way to talk," went on the young inventor. "Let

Foger start his bank. It won't hurt yours."

"What are you making now?" asked Ned, a little later, looking

with interest at the machinery over which Tom was bending, and to

which he was making adjustments.

"New electric automobile. I want to beat Andy Foger's car worse

than I did on my motorcycle, and I also want to win a prize," and

the lad proceeded to relate the incidents leading up to his

construction of the storage battery.

Tom and Ned were in the shop until long past midnight, and then

the bank employee, with a look at his watch, exclaimed:

"Great Scott! I ought to be home."

"I'll run you over in Mr. Damon's car," proposed Tom. "He left

it here the other day, while he and his wife went off on a trip,

and he said I could use it whenever I wanted to."

"Good!" cried Ned.

The two lads came from Tom's particular workshop. As the young

inventor closed the door he started suddenly, as he snapped shut the lock.

"What's the matter?" asked Ned quickly.

"I thought I heard a noise," replied Tom.

They both listened. There was a slight rustling in some bushes near the shop.

"It's a dog or a cat," declared Ned.

Tom took several cautious steps forward. Then he gave a spring,

and made a grab for some one or something.

"Here! You let me be!" yelled a protesting voice.

"I will when I find out what you mean by sneaking around here,"

retorted Tom, as he came back toward Ned, dragging with him a

lad. "It wasn't a dog or a cat, Ned," spoke the young inventor.

"It's Sam Snedecker," and so it proved.

"You let me alone!" demanded Andy Foger's crony. "I ain't done

nothin' to you," he whined.

"Here, Ned, you hold him a minute, while I make an

investigation," called Tom, handing his prisoner over to his

chum. "Maybe Pete or Andy are around."

"No, they ain't. I came alone," said Sam quickly, but Tom, not

heeding, opened the shop, and, after turning on the electric

lights, procured a lantern. He began a search of the shrubbery

around the shop, while Ned held to the struggling Sam.



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