Close around the electric auto crowded the members of the hold-
up gang. Their eyes seemed to glare through the holes in their
black masks. Instantly Tom thought of the other occasion when he
was halted by masked figures. Could these, by any possibility, be
the same individuals? Was this a trick of Andy Foger and his cronies?
Tom tried to pierce through the disguises. Clearly the persons
were men--not boys--and they wore the ragged clothes of tramps.
Also, there was an air of dogged determination about them.
"Well, are you going to shell out?" asked the leader, taking a
step nearer, "or will we have to take it?"
"Bless my very existence! You don't mean to say that you're
going to take the money--I mean how do you know we have any
money?" and Mr. Damon hastily corrected himself. "What right have
you to stop us in this way? Don't you know that every minute
counts? We are in a hurry."
"I know it," spoke the leading masked figure with a laugh. "I
know you have considerable money in that shebang, and I know what
you hope to do with it, prevent the run on the Shopton National
Bank. But we need that money as much as some other people and,
what's more, we're going to have it! Come on, shell out!"
"Oh, why didn't we bring a gun!" lamented Mr. Damon in a low
voice to Tom. "Isn't there anything we can do? Can't you give
them an electric shock, Tom?"
"I'm afraid not. If it wasn't for that hay wagon we could turn
on the current and make a run for it. But we'd only go into the
ditch if we tried to pass now."
The load of hay was down the road, but as Tom looked he noticed
a curious thing. It seemed to be nearer than it was when the
attack of the masked men came. The wagon actually seemed to have
backed up. Once more the thought came to the lad that possibly
the load of fodder might be one of the factors on which the
thieves counted. They might have used it to make the auto halt,
and the man, or men, on it were probably in collusion with the
footpads. There was no doubt about it, the load of hay was coming
nearer, backing up instead of moving away. Tom couldn't
understand it. He gave a swift glance at the robbers. They had
not appeared to notice this, or, if they had, they gave no sign.
"Then we can't do anything," murmured Mr. Damon.
"I don't see that we can," replied the young inventor in a low
"And the money we worked so hard to get won't do the bank any
good," and Mr. Damon sighed.
"It's tough luck," agreed Tom.
"Come now, fork over that cash!" called the leader, advancing
still closer. "None of that talk between you there. If you think
you can work some trick on us you're mistaken. We're desperate
men, and we're well armed. The first show of resistance you make,
and we shoot--get that, fellows?" he added to his followers, and
they nodded grimly.
"Well," remarked Mr. Damon with an air of submission, "I
want to warn you that you are acting illegally, and that you are
perpetrating a desperate crime."
"Oh, we know that all right," answered one of the men, and Tom
gave a start. He was sure he had heard that voice before. He tried
to remember it--tried to penetrate the disguise --but he could not.
"I'll give you ten seconds more to hand over that bag of
money," went on the leader. "If you don't, we'll take it and some
of you may get hurt in the process."
There seemed nothing else to do. With a white face, but with
anger showing in his eyes Mr. Damon reached down to get the
valise. Tom had retained his grip of the steering wheel, and the
starting lever. He hoped, at the last minute, he might see a
chance to dash away, and escape, but that load of hay was in the
path. He noted that it was now quite near, but the thieves paid
no attention to it.
Tom might have reversed the power, and sent his machine
backward, but he could not see to steer it if he went in that
direction, and he would soon have gone into the ditch. There was
nothing to do save to hand over the cash, it seemed.
Mr. Damon had the bag raised from the car, and the leader of
the thieves was reaching up for it, when there came a sudden
From the load of hay there sounded a fusillade of pistol shots,
cracking out with viciousness. This was instantly followed by the
appearance of three men who came running from around the load of
hay, down the road toward the thieves. Each man carried a
pitchfork, and as they ran, one of the trio shouted:
"Right at 'em, boys! Jab your hay forks clean through the
scoundrels! By Heck, I guess we'll show 'em we know how t' tackle
a hold-up gang as well as the next fellow! Right at 'em now!
Charge 'em! Stick your forks right through 'em!" Again there
sounded a fusillade of pistol shots.
The thieves turned as one man, and glanced at the relief so
unexpectedly approaching. They gave one look at the three
determined looking farmers, with their sharp, glittering
pitchforks, and then, without a word, they turned and fled,
leaping into the bushes that lined the roadway. The underbrush
closed after them and they were hidden from sight.
On came the three farmers, waving their effective weapons, the
pistol shots still ringing out from the load of hay. Tom could not
understand it, and could see no one firing--could detect no smoke.
"Are they gone? Did they rob ye?" asked the foremost of the
trio, a burly, grizzled farmer. Bust my buttons, but I guess we
skeered 'em all right!"
"Bless my shoe buttons, but you certainly have!" cried Mr.
Damon, descending from the automobile, and wringing the hand of
the farmer, while Tom, thrust the bag of money under his legs and
waited further developments. The pistol shots rang out until one
of the men called:
"That'll do, Bub! We've skeered 'em like Mrs. Zenoby's pet cat!
You needn't crack that whip any more."
"Whip!" cried Tom. "Was that a whip?"
"That's what it was," explained the leading farmer. "Bub
Armstrong, my nephew, can crack it to beat th' band," and as if
in proof of this there emerged from behind the load of hay a
small lad, carrying a large whip, to which he gave a few trial
cracks, like pistol shots, as if to show his ability.
"It's all right, Bub," his uncle assured him. "We made 'em
"But I don't exactly understand," spoke Mr. Damon. "I thought
you were in league with those thieves, stopping us as you did
with your big load."
"So did I," admitted Tom.
"Ha! Ha!" laughed the farmer. "That's a pretty good joke.
Excuse me for laughin'. My name's Lyon, Jethro Lyon, of Salina
Township, an' these is my two sons, Ade and Burt. You see we're
on our way to Shopton, an' my nephew, Bub, he went along. We
thought you was some of them sassy automobile fellers at first
when you hollered to us you wanted to pass. Then when we looked
back, we seen them burglars goin' t' rob you, at least that's
what we suspicioned," and he paused suggestively.
"That was it," Tom said.
"Wa'al, when we seen that, we held a sort of consultation on
thet load of hay, where they couldn't see us. It was so big you
know," he needlessly explained. "Wa'al, we calcalated we could
help you, so I jest quietly backed up, until we was near enough.
I told Bub to take the long whip, an' crack it for all he was
wuth, so's it would sound like reinforcements approachin' with
guns, an' he done it."
"He certainly done it," added Burt.
"Wa'al," resumed Mr. Lyon, "then me an my sons we jest slipped
down off the front seat, an' come a runnin' with our pitchforks.
I reckoned them burglars would run when they see us an' heard us,
an' they done so."
"Yep, they done so," added Ade, like an echo.
"I can't tell you how much obliged we are to you," said Mr.
Damon. "We have sixty thousand dollars in this valise, and they
would have had it in another minute, and the bank would have
"Sixty thousand dollars!" gasped Mr. Lyon, and his sons and
nephew echoed the words. Mr. Damon briefly explained about the
money, and he and the young inventor again thanked their
rescuers, who had so unexpectedly, and in such a novel manner,
put the thieves to flight.
"An' you've got t' git t' Shopton before three o'clock with
thet cash?" asked Mr. Lyon.
"That's what we hoped to do," replied Tom "but I'm afraid
won't now. It's half past two, and
"Don't say another word," interrupted Mr. Lyon. "I know what
mean. My hay's in the road. But don't let that worry ye none.
I'll pull out of your road in a jiffy, an' if we do go down in
th' ditch, why we can throw off part of th' load, lighten th'
wagon, an' pull out again. You've got t' hustle if ye git t'
Shopton by three o'clock."
"I can do it with a clear road," declared Tom, confidently.
"Then ye'll have th' clear road," Mr. Lyon assured him. "Come
boys, let's git th' hay t' one side."
The farmers pulled into the ditch. As they had feared the wagon
went in almost to the hubs, but they did not mind, and, even as
Tom and Mr. Damon shot past them, they fell to work tossing off
part of the fodder, to lighten the wagon. The young inventor and
his companion waved a grateful farewell to them as they fairly
tore past, for Tom had turned on almost the full current.
"Do you suppose that was the Happy Harry gang, or some members
of it who were not captured and sent to jail?" asked Mr. Damon.
"I don't believe so," answered the lad, shaking his head.
"Maybe they didn't really want to rob us. Perhaps they only
wanted to delay us so we wouldn't get to the bank on time."
"Bless my top knot, you may be right!" cried Mr. Damon.
Further conversation became difficult, as they struck a rough
part of the road, where the vehicle swayed and jolted to an
alarming degree. But Tom never slackened pace. On and on they
rushed, Mr. Damon frequently looking at his watch.
"We've got twenty minutes left," he remarked as they came out
on the smooth stretch of road, that led directly into Shopton.
Then Tom turned all the reserve power into the motor. The
machinery almost groaned as the current surged into the wires,
but it took up the load, and the electric car, swaying more than
ever, dashed ahead with its burden of wealth.
Now they were in the town, now speeding down the street leading
to the bank. One or two policemen shouted after them, for they
were violating the speed laws, but it was no time to stop for
that. On and on they dashed.
They came in sight of the bank. A long line of persons was
still in front. They seemed more excited than in the morning, for
the hour of three was approaching, and they feared the bank would
close its doors, never to open them again.
"The run is still on," observed Mr. Damon.
"But it will soon be over," predicted Tom.
Some news of the errand of the automobile must have penetrated
the crowd, for as Tom swung past the front entrance to the bank,
to go up the rear alley, he was greeted with a cheer.
"They're got the cash!" a man cried. "I'm satisfied now.
don't draw out my deposit."
"I want to see the cash before I'll believe it," said another.
Tom slowed up to make the turn into the alley. As he did so he
glanced across the street to the new bank. In the window stood
Andy Foger and his father. There was a look of surprise on their
faces as they saw the arrival of the powerful car, and, Tom
fancied, also a look of chagrin.
Up the alley went the car, police keeping the crowd from
following. The porter was at the door. So, also, was Mr.
Pendergast and Mr. Swift, while some of the other officers were
grouped behind them.
"Did you get the money?" gasped the president.
"We did," answered Tom. "Are we on time, Dad?"
"Just on time, my boy! They're paying out the last of the cash
now! You're on time, thank fortune!"
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Room | Tom
Swift And His Electric Runabout