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Room | Tom
Swift And His Electric Runabout
Tom Swift And
His Electric Runabout
TOM IS CAPTURED
Meanwhile the young inventor, aided by his father, Mr. Sharp
and Garret Jackson, the engineer, worked hard over his new car,
and the powerful batteries. A month passed, and such was the
progress made that Tom felt justified in making formal entry of
his vehicle for the races to be held by the Touring Club of America.
He paid a contingent fee and was listed as one of the
competitors. As is usual in an affair of this kind, the promoters
of it desired publicity, and they sought it through the papers.
Consequently each new entrant's name was published. In addition
something was said about his previous achievements in the speed line.
No sooner was the name of Tom Swift received by the officials
of the club, than it was at once recalled that young Swift had
had a prominent part in the airship Red Cloud, and the submarine
Advance. This gave an enterprising reporter a chance for a
"special" for the Sunday supplement of a New York newspaper.
Tom, it was stated, was building a car which would practically
annihilate distance and time, and there were many weird pictures,
showing him flying along without touching the ground, in a car,
the pictorial construction of which was at once fearful and wonderful.
Tom and his friends laughed at the yarn, at first, but it soon
had undesirable results. The young inventor had desired to keep
secret the fact that he was building a new electric vehicle, and
a novel storage battery, but the article in the paper aroused
considerable interest. Many persons came a long distance, hoping
for a sight of the wonderful car, as pictured in the Sunday
supplement, but they had to be denied. The news, thus leaking
out, kept the Swift shops almost constantly besieged by many
curious ones, who sought, by various means, to gain admission.
Finally Tom and his father, after posting large signs, warning
persons to keep away, added others to the effect that undesirable
visitors might find themselves unexpectedly shocked by
electricity, if they ventured too close. This had the desired
effect, though the wires which were strung about carried such a
mild charge that it would not have harmed a child. Then the only
bothersome characters were the boys of the town, and, fearless
and careless lads, they persisted in hanging around the Swift
homestead, in the hope of seeing Tom dash away at the rate of
five hundred miles an hour, which one enthusiastic writer
predicted he would do.
"I've got a plan!" exclaimed Tom one day when the boys had been
"What is it?" asked his father.
"We'll hire Eradicate Sampson to stand guard with a bucket of
whitewash. He'll keep the boys away."
The plan was put into operation, and Eradicate and his mule,
Boomerang, were installed on the premises.
"Deed an' Ah'll keep dem lads away," promised the colored man.
"Ah'll splash white stuff all ober 'em, if dey comes traipsin' around
He was as good as his word, and, when one or two lads had
received a dose of the stuff, which punishment was followed by
more severe from home, for having gotten their clothes soiled,
the nuisance ceased, to a certain extent. Sam Snedecker and Pete
Bailey were two who received a liberal sprinkling of the lime,
and they vowed vengeance on Tom.
"And Andy Foger will help us, too," added Sam, as he withdrew,
after an encounter with Eradicate.
"Doan't let dat worry yo', Mistah Swift!" exclaimed the darkey.
"Jest let dat low-down-good-fo-nuffin' Andy Foger come 'round me,
an' Ah'll make him t'ink he's de inside ob a chicken coop, dat's
what Ah will."
Perhaps Andy heard of this, and kept away. In the meanwhile Tom
kept on perfecting his car and battery. From the club secretary
he learned that a number of inventors were working on electric cars,
and there promised to be many of the speedy vehicles in the race.
After considerable labor Tom had succeeded in getting together
one set of the batteries. He had them completed one afternoon,
and wanted to give them a test that night. But, when he went to
his father's chemical laboratory for a certain powder, which he
needed to use in the battery solution, he found there was none.
"I'll have to ride in to Mansburg for some," he decided. "I'll
go after supper, on my motorcycle, and test the battery tonight."
The young inventor left his house immediately after the evening
meal. Along the road toward Mansburg he speeded, and, as he came
to the foot of a hill, where once Andy Foger had put a big tree,
hoping Tom would run into it and be injured, the youth recalled
"Andy has been keeping out of my way lately," mused Tom. "I
wonder if he's up to any mischief? I don't like the way Sam
Snedecker is hanging around the shop, either. It looks as if they
were plotting something. But I guess Eradicate and his pail of
whitewash will scare them off."
Tom got the powdered chemical he wanted in the drug store, and,
after refreshing himself with some ice cream soda, he started
back. As he rode along through the streets of the town he kept a
lookout, and those of you who know how fond the lad was of a
certain young lady, do not need to be told for whom he was
looking. But he did not see her, and soon turned into the main
highway leading to Shopton.
It was dark when he reached the hill, where once he had been so
near an accident, and he slowed up as he coasted down it, using
the brake at intervals.
Tom got safely to the bottom of the declivity, and was about to
turn on the power of his machine, when, from the bushes that
lined either side of the roadway, several figures sprang
suddenly. They ranged themselves across the road, and one cried:
"Halt!" in tones that were meant to be stern, but which seemed
Tom, to tremble somewhat. The young inventor was so surprised
that he did not open the gasolene throttle, nor switch on his
spark. As a consequence his motor-cycle lost momentum, and he had
to take one foot from the pedal and touch the ground, to prevent
himself from toppling over.
"Hold on there!" cried another voice. "We've got you where
want you, now! Hold on! Don't go!"
"I wasn't going to go," responded Tom calmly, trying to
recognize the voice, which seemed to be unnatural. "What do you
want, and who are you?"
"Never mind who we are. We want you and we've got you! Get off
"I don't see why I should!" exclaimed Tom, and he suddenly
shifted his handle bars, so as to flash the bright headlight he
carried, upon the circle of dark figures that opposed his
progress. As the light flashed on them he was surprised to see
that all the figures wore masks over their faces.
Tom started. Was this the Happy Harry gang after him again? He
hoped not, yet the fact that the persons had on masks made the
hold-up have an ugly look. Once more Tom flashed the light on the
throng. There were exclamations of dismay.
"Douse that glim, somebody!" called a sharp voice, which Tom
could not recognize.
A stone came whizzing through the air, from some one in the
crowd. There was a smashing of glass as it hit the lantern, and
the road was plunged in darkness. Tom tried to throw one leg over
the saddle, and let down the supporting stand from the rear
wheel, so the motorcycle would remain upright without him holding
it. He determined to have revenge for that act of vandalism in
breaking his lamp.
But, just as he was free of the seat, he was surrounded by a
dozen persons, and several hands were laid on him.
"We've got you now!" some one fairly hissed in his ear. "Come
along, and get what's coming to you!"
Tom tried to fight, but he was overpowered by numbers and, a
little later, was dragged off into the woods in the darkness by
the masked figures. His arms were securely bound with ropes, and
a handkerchief was tied over his eyes. Tom Swift was a prisoner.
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Room | Tom
Swift And His Electric Runabout