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Room | Tom
Swift And His Electric Runabout
Tom Swift And
His Electric Runabout
WINNING THE PRIZE
After making two circuits of the track at moderate speed, Tom
turned on more power, deciding to see how the machine would
behave on the turns, going at a fast speed. As it happened he
forged ahead just as the big red car was coming up behind him.
The driver of it took this for a challenge and threw his
controller handle forward.
"Come on!" he cried to our hero, when even with him.
Tom did not want to decline the invitation, and the impromptu
race was under way. Soon the green car came rushing up, and for
two miles the three kept almost in line. It was evident that
neither the green nor the red car drivers wanted to "open out,"
until they saw Tom do so.
He was willing to oblige them, and suddenly increased his
speed. They did the same, and went ahead of him. Then Tom turned
on a little more juice and got the lead, but the two men were
right after him, and they see-sawed like this for two more miles.
Then, with a cry the man in the red car, with a sudden burst of
speed, left Tom and the green car behind. The green car was soon
up to its rival, but Tom decided he would not spurt.
The lad and his friends spent the early part of the night in
making a final inspection of the machinery, finding it in good
order. Then, with his head filled with visions of the race on the
morrow Tom went to bed. He had made inquiries, by telephone, of
the friends of Miss Nestor, and learned that she had not arrived.
Tom felt a distinct sense of disappointment.
The day of the race could not have been better. It was ideal
weather, and conditions at the track were just right. Tom was up
early, and went over every inch of his car with a nervous dread
that he might find something the matter.
The final details of the race were completed, and the entrants
given their numbers and places. Tom drew a good position, not the
best, but he had no reason to complain. Half an hour before the
start he again telephoned to see if Miss Nestor had arrived, but
she had not, and it was with rather gloomy thoughts that the lad
entered his car, in which Mr. Sharp had already taken his place.
Mr. Damon went to the grandstand to watch the race.
"I wanted Mary to see me win," thought our hero, for he had
grimly set his mind on coming in ahead.
There was a great crowd in the grandstand and scattered about
the big track, which took in a large extent of territory. In
spite of its size--five miles around--it seemed solidly
packed for the entire length with autos, containing gay parties
who had come to see the electric contest. There was a band
playing gay airs, as Tom guided his machine through the entrance
gate, and onto the track.
The judges made their final inspection. There were twenty cars
entered, but it was obvious that some of them would not last
long, as their battery capacity was not large enough. Their
owners might have relied on recharging, but how they could do
this under the usual slow system, and hope to win, Tom could not
see. He hoped to run the entire distance on the single charge,
but, if by some accident part of his current should leak away,
his battery could be charged in a short time, by means of his new
system, to run for a considerable distance, or he could install a
new one already charged, for he had two sets on hand. Tom glanced
over the cars of his competitors. They were to be sent away in
batches, the affair being a handicap one, with time allowance for
the smaller powered cars. Tom noted that his car and the red and
the green ones were in the same bunch. Tom's car was purple.
"Are you all ready?" asked the starter of the first group of races.
"Ready," was the low-voiced response.
"Crack!" went the pistol, and there followed the hum of the
motors as the current set the mechanism to work. Forward went the
cars, amid the crash of the band and the cheers of the crowd. The
big race was under way.
"Do you feel nervous, Tom?" asked Mr. Sharp.
"Not a bit," replied the lad.
Around and around the track flew the speedy electrics. It was
evident that the holding of a meet solely for cars of this
character had brought out many new ideas that would be to the
benefit of the industry. Some cars were "freaks" and others, like
Tom's, showed a distinct advance over previous styles of construction.
A five-hundred mile race around a track is rather a monotonous
affair, except for what happens, and things very soon began to
happen at this race.
As Tom had expected, several of the machines were forced to
withdraw. Tire troubles beset some, and others found that they
were hopelessly out of it because of low power, or lack of
Tom determined not to let the red or the green car gain any
advantage over him, and so he watched those two vehicles
narrowly. On the other hand, the red and the green electrics were
evidently afraid of one another and of Tom.
They all three kept pretty much together for the first thirty
miles. By this time the race had settled down into a steady
grind. There was some excitement when the steering gear of one
car broke, and it crashed Into the fence, injuring the driver,
but the race went on.
The young inventor was holding his own with his two chief
rivals, and was feeling rather proud of his car, when there came
from it a report like a pistol shot.
"Blow out!" yelled Tom desperately, steering to one of the
several repair stations on the inner side of the track. "Be ready
with the extra wheel, Mr. Sharp!"
"Right you are!" cried the balloonist. The car was scarcely
stopped when he had leaped out, and had the lifting jack under
the left rear wheel, where the tire had gone to the bad. He and
Tom labored like Trojans to take off the wheel, and put on the
other. They lost five minutes, and when they got under way again
the red and the green cars were three quarters of a lap ahead.
"You've got to catch them!" declared Sharp firmly.
But the red and the green car drivers saw their advantage, and
were determined to hold it. Tom could not catch them without
going his limit, and he did not want to do this just yet.
However, he had his opportunity when about two hundred miles had
been covered. Both the red and the green cars had tire troubles,
but the red one was delayed scarcely two minutes as there was a
corps of mechanics on hand to take off the defective wheel and
put on another. Still Tom regained his lost ground, and once more
the race between those three cars was even.
In the rear of Tom's car Mr. Sharp was mending the blown-out
tire, though there was still one spare wheel on reserve. Tom, in
front, peered eagerly at the track. Nearly side by side raced the
red and the green cars, the latter somewhat to the rear.
It was at the three hundred and fiftieth mile that Tom had
another blow-out. This time it took a little longer to change the
wheel, and the red and green cars gained a full lap on him. The
track was now so dusty that it was difficult to see the
contesting cars. Many had dropped out, and more were on the verge
of giving up.
With the odds against him, Tom started in to regain the lost
ground. Narrowly he watched his electric power. Slowly he saw it
dropping. Would he have enough left to finish out the race? He
feared not. The hours were passing. Still there was a hundred
miles yet to go twenty circuits of the track. Some of the
spectators were getting weary and leaving. The band played
Suddenly Tom saw the red car shoot to one side of the track,
toward a charging station; The green car followed.
"That's our cue!" cried the young inventor "We need a little
more 'juice' and now is the time to get it."
The lad ran to the shed where his charging wires were, and they
were connected in a trice. He allowed twenty-five minutes for the
charging, as he knew with his improved battery he could get
enough current in that time to finish the contest. Before the red
and green car drivers had finished installing new batteries, for
they could not recharge as quickly as could our hero, Tom was on
the track again. But, in a little while, his two rivals were after him.
It was now a spectacular race. Around and around swept the
three big cars. All the others were practically out of it. The
crowd became lively airs. Mile after mile was reeled off. The day
was passing. Tired and covered with dust from the track, Tom
still sat at the steering wheel.
"Two laps more!" cried Mr. Sharp, as the starter's pistol gave
this warning. "Can you get away from 'em, Tom?"
The red and the green cars were following closely. The young
inventor looked back and nodded. He turned on more power, almost
to the limit--that he was saving for the final spurt. But after
him still came the two big cars. Suddenly the red car shot ahead,
just as the last lap was beginning. The green tried to follow,
but there was a flash of fire, a loud report, and Tom knew a fuse
had blown out. There was no time for his rival to put in a new
one. The race was now between Tom and the red car. Could the lad
catch and pass it?
They were now only a mile from the finish. The red car was
three lengths ahead. With a quick motion Tom turned on the last
bit of power. There seemed to come a roar from his Motor and his
car shot ahead. It was on even terms with the red car when what
Tom had been fearing for the last five minutes happened. his fuse
"Too bad! It's all up with us!" cried Mr. Sharp.
"No!" cried Tom in a ringing voice. "I've got an emergency
ready!" He snapped a switch in place, putting into commission
another fuse. The motor that had lost speed began to pick it up
again. Tom had pulled back the controller handle, but he now
shoved it forward again, notch by notch, until it was at the
limit. He had fallen back from the red car, and the occupants of
that, with a yell of triumph, prepared to cross the line a winner.
But, like a race horse that nerves himself for the last
desperate spurt, Tom's machine fairly leaped ahead. With his
hands gripping the rim of the steering wheel, until it seemed
that the bones of his fingers would protrude, Tom sent his car
straight for the finishing tape. There was a yell from the
spectators. Men were standing up, waving their hats and shouting.
Women were fairly screaming. Mr. Damon was blessing everything
within sight. Mr. Sharp, in his excitement, was pushing on the
back of the front seats as if to shove the car ahead.
Then, as the pistol announced the close of the race, Tom's car,
with what seemed a mighty leap, like a hunter clearing a ditch,
forged ahead, and crossed the line a length in advance of the red
car. Tom Swift had Won.
Amid the cheers of the crowd the lad slowed up, and, at the
direction of the judges, wheeled back to the stand, to receive
the prize. A certified check for three thousand dollars was
handed him, and he received the congratulations of the racing
officials. The driver of the red car also generously praised him.
"You won fair and square," he said, shaking hands with Tom.
The young inventor and his friends drove their car to their
shed. As Tom was descending, weary and begrimed with dust he
heard a voice asking:
"Mayn't I congratulate you also?"
He wheeled around, to confront Mary Nestor, immaculate in a
"Why--why," he stammered. "I--I thought you didn't come."
"Oh, yes I did," she answered, laughing. "I wouldn't have
missed it for anything. I arrived late, but I saw the whole race.
Wasn't it glorious. I'm so glad you won!" Tom was too, now, but
he shrank back when Miss Nestor held out both daintily gloved
hands to him. His hands were covered with oil and dirt.
"As if I cared for my gloves!" she cried, and she took
possession of his hands, a proceeding to which Tom was nothing
loath. "Are you going to race any more?" she asked, as he walked
along by her side, away from the gathering crowd.
"I don't know," he replied. "My car is speedier than I thought
it was. Perhaps I may enter it in other contests."
But what Tom Swift did later on will be told in another volume,
to be called, "Tom Swift and His Wireless Message; or, The
Castaways of Earthquake Island"--a strange tale of ship-wreck and
The run back home was made without incident, save for a broken
chain, easily repaired, the day following the race, and Tom later
received a number of invitations to give exhibitions of speed.
Several automobile manufacturers wanted to secure the rights to
his machine, but he said he desired to consider the matter before
acting. He did not forget his promise to Mrs. Baggert, regarding
the diamond earrings, and bought her the finest pair he could find.
"Come on, Mr. Sharp," proposed Tom, a week or so after the big
race, "let's go for a spin in the airship. I want to see how it
feels to be among the clouds once more," and they were soon
The new bank, started by Mr. Foger, did not flourish long. It
closed its doors in less than six months, but the old institution
was stronger than ever. Mr. Berg disappeared, and Tom never
learned whether the agent really was the man he had chased, and
whose watch charm he tore loose, though he always had his
suspicions. Nor did it ever develop who crossed the electric
wires, so that Tom was so nearly fatally shocked. Andy Foger
disliked our hero more than ever, and on several occasions caused
him not a little trouble, but Tom was able to look after himself.
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Room | Tom
Swift And His Electric Runabout