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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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"Bless my overshoes!" cried Mr. Damon. "Stuck in the mud, eh?"

"Hard and fast," added Tom, in disgust.

"What's to be done?" inquired Mr. Sharp.

"I should say we'll have to stay here until daylight, and wait

for some other auto to come along and pull us out," was Mr.

Damon's opinion. "It's might unpleasant, too, for there doesn't

seem to be any place around here where we can spend the night in

any kind of comfort. If we had the submarine or the airship, now,

it wouldn't so much matter."

"No, and this won't matter a great deal," remarked the young

inventor quickly. "We'll soon be out of this, but it will be hard work."

"What do you mean?" asked Mr. Sharp.

"I mean that we've got to pull ourselves out of this mud hole,"

explained the lad, as he prepared to descend. "I was afraid

something like this would happen, so I came prepared for it. I've

got ropes and pulleys with me, in the car. We'll fasten the rope

to the machine, attach one pulley to the bridge, another to the

car, and I guess we can get out of the mud. We'll try, anyhow."

"Well, I must say you looked pretty far ahead," complimented

Mr. Damon.

From a box under the tonneau Tom took out a thin but strong

rope and two compound pulleys, which would enable considerable

force to be applied. Mr. Sharp detached one of the powerful oil

lamps, and the three travelers took a look at the auto. It was

indeed deep in the mud and it seemed like a hopeless task to try

to get it out unaided. But Tom insisted that they could do it,

and the rope was soon attached, the hook of one pulley being

slipped around one of the braces of the bridge.

"Now, all together!" cried the lad, as he and his friends

grasped the long rope. They gave a great heave. At first it

seemed like pulling on a stone wall. The rope strained and the

pulleys creaked.

"I--guess--we--will--pull--the--bridge--over!" gasped Mr. Sharp.

"Something's got to give way!" puffed Tom. "Now, once more! All


Suddenly they felt the rope moving. The pulleys creaked still

more and, by the light of the lamp, they could see that the auto

was slowly being pulled backward, out of the mud, and onto the

hard road. In a few minutes it was ready to proceed again.

The rope and pulleys were put away, and, after Tom had made an

examination of the car to see that it had sustained no damage,

they were off again, making good time to the hotel in Burgfield,

where they spent the night. They had an early breakfast, and, as

Tom went out to the barn to look at his car, he saw it surrounded

by a curious throng of men and boys. One of the boys was turning

some of the handles and levers.

"Here! Quit that!" yelled Tom, and the meddlesome lad leaped

down in fright. "Do you want to start the car and have it smash

into something?" demanded the young inventor.

"Aw, nothin' happened," retorted the lad. "I pulled every

handle on it, an' it didn't move."

"Good reason," murmured Tom, for he had taken the precaution to

remove a connecting plug, without which the machine could not be started.

The three were soon under way again, and covered many miles

over the fine country roads, the weather conditions being

delightful. On inquiry they found that by taking an infrequently

used highway, they could save several miles. It was over an

unoccupied part of country, rather wild and desolate, but they

did not mind that.

They were whizzing along, talking of Tom's chances for winning

the race when, after climbing a slight grade, the auto came to a

sudden stop on the summit.

"What's the matter?" asked Mr. Sharp. "Why are you stopping

here, Tom?"

"I didn't stop," was the surprising answer, and the lad shoved

the starting lever back and forth.

But there was no response. There was no hum from the motor. The

machine was "dead."

"That's queer," murmured the young inventor

"Maybe a fuse blew out," suggested Mr. Damon, that seeming to

be his favorite form of trouble.

"If it had you'd have known it," remarked Mr. Sharp.

"There's plenty of current in the battery, according to the

registering gauge, murmured the lad. "I can't understand it." He

reversed the current, thinking the wires might have become

crossed, but the machine would move neither backward nor forward,

yet the dial indicated that there was enough power stored away to

send it a hundred miles or more.

"Perhaps the dial hand has become caught," suggested Mr. Sharp.

"That sometimes happens on a steam gauge, and indicates a high

pressure when there isn't any. Hit it slightly, and see if the

hand swings back."

Tom did so. At once the hand fell to zero, indicating that

there was not an ampere of current left. The battery was

exhausted, but this fact had not been indicated on the gauge.

"I see now!" cried Tom. "It was those fellows at the hotel

barn! They monkeyed with the mechanism, short circuited the

battery, and jammed the gauge so I couldn't tell when my power

was gone. If I had known there wasn't enough to carry us I could

have recharged the battery at the hotel. But I figured that I had

enough current for the entire trip, and so there would have been,

if it hadn't leaked away. Now we're in a pretty pickle."

"Bless my hat band!" cried Mr. Damon. "Does that mean we can't move?"

"Guess that's about it," answered Mr. Sharp, and Tom nodded.

"Well, why can't we go on to some place where they sell

electricity, and get enough to take us where we want to go?"

asked the odd character, whose ideas of machinery were somewhat hazy.

"The only trouble is we can't carry the heavy car with us,"

replied Tom. "It's too big to pick up and take to a charging station."

"Then we've got to wait until some one comes along with a team

of horses, and tows us in," commented Mr. Sharp. "And that will

be some time, on this lonely road."

Tom shook his head despondently. He went all over the car

again, but was forced to the first conclusion, that the reserve

current had leaked away, in consequence of the meddling prank of

the youth at the hotel. The situation was far from pleasant, and

the delay would seriously interfere with their plans.

Suddenly, as Tom was pacing up and down the road, he heard from

afar, a peculiar humming sound. He paused to listen.

"Trolley car," observed Mr. Sharp. "Maybe one of us could go

somewhere on the trolley and get help. There it is," and he

pointed to the electric vehicle, moving along about half a mile

away, at the foot of a gentle slope.

At the sight of the car Tom uttered a cry. "I have it!" he

exclaimed. "None of us need go for help! It's right at hand!"

His companions looked curiously, as the young inventor pointed

triumphantly to the fast disappearing electric.



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