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| Home | Reading Room Tom Swift And His Sky Racer

Tom Swift And His Sky Racer
or The Quickest Flight on Record
by Victor Appleton

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Chapter Fourteen

The Great Test

"Bless my gizzard!" exclaimed Mr. Damon, who hardly knew

what to do. "We'd better be getting out of here, Tom!"

"Not much!" exclaimed the young inventor. "I never ran

from Andy Foger yet, and I'm not going to begin now."

He assumed an attitude of defense, and stood calmly

awaiting the onslaught of the bully; but Andy knew better

than to come to a personal argument with Tom, and so the

red-haired lad halted some paces off. The man, who had

followed young Foger, also stopped.

"What do you want around here, Tom Swift?" demanded Andy.

"You know very well what I want," said the young inventor,

calmly. "I want to know what you did with the aeroplane

plans you took from my house."

"I never took any!" declared Andy vigorously

"Well, there's no use discussing that," went on Tom. "What

I came here to find out, and I don't mind telling you, is

whether or not you are building a monoplane to compete

against me, and building it on a model invented by me; and

what's more, Andy Foger, I intend to find this out, too!"

Tom started toward the big shed, which loomed up in the


"Stand back!" cried Andy, getting in Tom's way. "I can

build any kind of an aeroplane I like, and you can't stop


"We'll see about that," declared the young inventor, as he

kept on. "I'm not going to allow my plans to be stolen, and

a monoplane made after them, and do nothing about it."

"You keep away!" snarled Andy, and he grabbed Tom by the

shoulder and struck him a blow in the chest. He must have

been very much excited, or otherwise he never would have

come to hostilities this way with Tom, whom he well knew

could easily beat him.

The blow, together with the many things he had suffered at

Andy's hands, was too much for our hero. He drew back his

fist, and a moment later Andy Foger was stretched out on the

grass. He lay there for a moment, and then rose up slowly to

his knees, his face distorted with rage.

"You--you hit me!" he snarled.

"Not until you hit first," said Tom calmly.

"Bless my punching bag! That's so!" exclaimed Mr. Damon.

"You'll suffer for this!" whined Andy, getting to his

feet, but taking care to retreat from Tom, who stood ready

for him. "I'll get square with you for this! Jake, come on,

and we'll get our guns!"

Andy turned and hurried back toward the shed, followed by

the evil-looking man, who had apparently been undecided

whether to attack Mr. Damon or Tom. Now the bully and his

companion were in full retreat.

"We'll get our guns, and then we'll see whether they'll

want to stay where they're not wanted!" went on Andy,


"Bless my powderhorn! What had we better do?" asked Mr.


"I guess we'd better go back," said Tom calmly. "Not that

I'm afraid of Andy. His talk about guns is all bluff; but I

don't want to get into any more of a row, and he is just ugly

and reckless enough to make trouble. I'm afraid we can't

learn what we came to find out, though I'm more convinced

than ever that Andy is using my plans to make his


"But what can you do?"

"I'll see Mr. Sharp, and send a protest to the aviation

committee. I'll refuse to enter if Andy flies in a model of

my Humming-Bird, and I'll try to prevent him from using it

after he gets it on the ground. That is all I can do, it

seems, lacking positive information. Come on, Mr. Damon.

Let's get back to our hotel, and we'll start for home in the


"I have a plan," whispered the odd man.

"What is it?" asked Tom, narrowly watching

for the reappearance of Andy and the man.

"I'll stay here until they come, then I'll pretend to run

away. They'll chase after me, and get all excited, and you

can go up and look in the shed windows. Then you can join me

later. How's that?"

"Too risky. They might fire at you by mistake. No. We'll

both go. I've found out more than enough to confirm my


They turned out of the lot which contained the shed, and

walked toward the road, just as Andy and his crony came


"Huh! You'd better go!" taunted the bully.

Tom had a bitter feeling in his heart. It seemed as if he

was defeated, and he did not like to retreat before Andy.

"You'd better not come back here again, either," went on


Tom and Mr. Damon did not reply, but kept on in silence.

They returned to Shopton the next day.

"Well," remarked Tom, when he had gone out to look at his

Humming-Bird, "I know one thing. Andy Foger may build a

machine something like this, but I don't believe he can put

in all the improvements I have, and certainly he can't equal

that engine; eh, dad?"

"I hope not, Tom," replied his father, who seemed to be

much improved in health.

"When are you going to try for speed?" asked Mr. Damon.

"To-morrow, if I can get it tuned up enough," replied Tom,

"and I think I can. Yes, we'll have the great test to-

morrow, and then I'll know whether I really have a chance

for that ten thousand dollars."

Never before had Tom been so exacting in his requirements

of his air craft as when, the next day, the Humming-Bird was

wheeled out to the flight ground, and gotten ready for the

test. The young inventor went over every bolt, brace, stay,

guy wire and upright. He examined every square inch of the

wings, the tips, planes and rudders. The levers, the

steering wheel, the automatic equilibrium attachments and

the balancing weights were looked at again and again.

As for the engine, had it been a delicate watch, Tom could

not have scrutinized each valve, wheel, cam and spur gear

more carefully. Then the gasoline tank was filled, the

magneto was looked after, the oil reservoirs were cleaned

out and freshly filled, and finally the lad remarked:

"Well, I guess I'm ready. Come along, Mr. Damon."

"Am I going with you in the test?"

"Surely. I've been counting on you. If you're to be with

me in the race, you want to get a sample of what we can do.

Take your place. Mr. Jackson, are you ready to time us?"

"All ready, Tom."

"And, dad, do you feel well enough to check back Mr.

Jackson's results? I don't want any errors."

"Oh, yes, Tom. I can do it."

"Very well, then. Now this is my plan. I'm going to mount

upward on an easy slant, and put her through a few stunts

first, to warm up, and see that everything is all right.

Then, when I give the signal, by dropping this small white

ball, that means I'm ready for you to start to time me. Then

I'll begin to try for the record. I'll go about the course

in a big ellipse, and--well, we'll see what happens."

While Mr. Damon was in his seat the young inventor started

the propeller, and noted the thrust developed. It was

satisfactory, as measured on the scale, and then Tom took

his place.

"Let her go!" he cried to Mr. Jackson and Eradicate, after

he had listened to the song of the motor for a moment. The

Humming-Bird flew across the course, and a moment later

mounted into the air.

Tom quickly took her up to about two thousand feet, and

there, finding the conditions to his liking, he began a few

evolutions designed to severely test the craft's stability,

and to learn whether the engine was working properly.

"How about it?" asked Mr. Damon anxiously.

"All right!" shouted Tom in his ear, for the motor was

making a great racket. "I guess we'll make the trial next

time we come around. Get ready to drop the signal ball."

Tom slowly brought the aeroplane around in a graceful

curve. He sighted down, and saw the first tall white pole

that marked the beginning of the course.

"Drop!" he called to Mr. Damon.

The white rubber ball went to the earth like a shot. Mr.

Jackson and Mr. Swift saw it, and started their timing-

watches. Tom opened the throttle and advanced the spark. The

great test was on!

The Humming-Bird trembled and throbbed with the awful

speed of the motor, like a thing alive. She seemed to rush

forward as an eagle dropping down from a dizzy height upon

some hapless prey.

"Faster yet!" murmured Tom. "We must go faster yet!"

The motor was warming up. Streaks of fire came from it.

The exhaust of the explosions was a continuous roar. Faster

and faster flew the frail craft.

Around and around the air course she circled. The wind

appeared to be rushing beneath the planes and rudders with

the velocity of a hurricane. Had it not been for the face

protectors they wore, Tom and Mr. Damon could not have

breathed. For ten minutes this fearful speed was kept up.

Then Tom, knowing he had run the motor to the limit, slowed

it down. Next he shut it off completely, and prepared to

volplane back to earth. The silence after the terrific

racket was almost startling. For a moment neither of the

aviators spoke. Then Mr. Damon said:

"Do you think you did it, Tom?"

"I don't know. We'll soon find out. They'll have the

record." And he motioned toward the earth, which they were

rapidly nearing.



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