A Noise in the Night
"Well, did I make it? Make any kind of a record?" asked
Tom eagerly, as he brought the trim little craft to a stop,
after it had rolled along the ground on the bicycle wheels.
"What do you think you did?" asked Mr. Jackson, who had
been busy figuring on a slip of paper.
"Did I get her up to ninety miles an hour?" inquired Tom
eagerly. "If I did, I know when the motor wears down a bit
smoother that I can make her hit a hundred in the race,
easily. Did I touch ninety, Mr. Jackson?"
"Better than that, Tom! Better than that!" cried his
"Yes," joined in Mr. Jackson. "Allowing for the difference
in our watches, Tom, your father and I figure that you did
the course at the rate of one hundred and twelve miles an
"One hundred and twelve!" gasped the young inventor,
hardly able to believe it.
"I made it a hundred and fifteen," said Mr. Swift, who was
almost as pleased as was his son, "and Mr. Jackson made it
one hundred and eleven; so we split the difference, so to
speak. You certainly have a sky racer, Tom, my boy!"
"And I'll need it, too, dad, if I'm to compete with Andy
Foger, who may have a machine almost like mine."
"But I thought you were going to object to him if he has,"
said Mr. Damon, who had hardly recovered from the speedy
flight through space.
"Well, I was just providing for a contingency, in case my
protest was overruled," remarked Tom. "But I'm glad the
Humming-Bird did so well on her first trial. I know she'll do
better the more I run her. Now we'll get her back in her
'nest,' and I'll look her over, when she cools down, and see
if anything has worked loose."
But the trim little craft needed only slight adjustments
after her tryout, for Tom had built her to stand up under a
"We'll soon be in shape for the big race," he announced,
"and when I bring home that ten thousand dollars I'm going
to abandon this sky-scraping business, except for occasional
"What will you do to occupy your mind?" asked Mr. Damon.
"Oh, I'm going to travel," announced Tom. "Then there's my
new electric rifle, which I have not perfected yet. I'll
work on that after I win the big race."
For several days after the first real trial of his sky
racer Tom was busy going over the Humming-Bird, making
slight changes here and there. He was the sort of a lad who
was satisfied with nothing short of the best, and though
neither his father nor Mr. Jackson could see where there was
room for improvement, Tom was so exacting that he sat up for
several nights to perfect such little details as a better
grip for the steering-lever, a quicker way of making the
automatic equilibriumizer take its position, or an improved
transmitter for the wireless apparatus.
That was a part of his monoplane of which Tom was justly
proud, for though many aeroplanes to-day are equipped with
the sending device, few can receive wireless messages in
mid-air. But Tom had seen the advantage of this while making
a trip in the ill-fated Red Cloud to the cave of the diamond
makers, and he determined to have his new craft thus
provided against emergencies. The wireless outfit of the
Humming-Bird was a marvel of compactness.
Thus the days passed, with Tom very busy; so busy, in
fact, that he hardly had time to call on Miss Nestor. As for
Andy Foger, he heard no more from him, and the bully was not
seen around Shopton. Tom concluded that he was at his
uncle's place, working on his racing craft.
The young inventor sent a formal protest to the aviation
committee, to be used in the event of Andy entering a craft
which infringed on the Humming-Bird, and received word from
Mr. Sharp that the interests of the young inventor would be
protected. This satisfied Tom.
Still, at times, he could not help wondering how the first
plans had so mysteriously disappeared, and he would have
given a good deal to know just how Andy got possession of
them, and how he knew enough to use them.
"He, or some one whom he hired, must have gotten into our
house mighty quickly that day," mused Tom, "and then skipped
out while dad fell into a little doze. It was a mighty queer
thing, but it's lucky it was no worse."
The time was approaching for the big aviation meet. Tom's
craft was in readiness, and had been given several other
trials, developing more speed each time. Additional locks
were put on the doors of the shed, and more burglar-alarm
wires were strung, so that it was almost a physical
impossibility to get into the Humming-Bird's "nest" without
arousing some one in the Swift household.
"And if they do, I guess we'll be ready for them," said
Tom grimly. He had been unable to find out who it was that
had attempted once before to damage the monoplane, but he
suspected it was the ill-favored man who was working with
As for Mr. Swift, at times he seemed quite well, and again
he required the services of a physician.
"You will have to be very careful of your father, Tom,"
said Dr. Gladby. "Any sudden shock or excitement may
aggravate his malady, and in that case a serious operation
will be necessary."
"Oh, we'll take good care of him," said the lad; but he
could not help worrying, though he tried not to let his
father see the strain which he was under.
It was some days after this, and lacking about a week
until the meet was to open, when a peculiar thing happened.
Tom had given his Humming-Bird a tryout one day, and had
then begun to make arrangements for taking it apart and
shipping it to Eagle Park. For he would not fly to the meet
in it, for fear of some accident. So big cases had been
"I'll take it apart in the morning," decided Tom, as he
went to his room, after seeing to the burglar alarm, "and
ship her off. Then Mr. Damon and I will go there, set her
up, and get ready to win the race."
Tom had opened all the windows in his room, for it was
very warm. In fact it was so warm that sleep was almost out
of the question, and he got up to sit near the windows in
the hope of feeling a breeze.
There it was more comfortable, and he was just dozing off,
and beginning to think of getting back into bed, when he was
aware of a peculiar sound in the air overhead.
"I wonder if that's a heavy wind starting up?" he mused.
"Good luck, if it is! We need it." The noise increased,
sounding more and more like wind, but Tom, looking out into
the night, saw the leaves of the trees barely moving.
"If that's a breeze, it's taking its own time getting
here," he went on.
The sound came nearer, and then Tom knew that it was not
the noise of the wind in the trees. It was more like a
roaring and rumbling,
"Can it be distant thunder?" Tom asked himself. "There is
no sign of a storm." Once more he looked from the window.
The night was calm and clear--the trees as still as if they
The sound was even more plain now, and Tom, who had sharp
ears, at once decided that it was just over the house--
directly overhead. An instant later he knew what it was.
"The motor of an aeroplane, or a dirigible balloon!" he
exclaimed. "Some one is flying overhead!"
For an instant he feared lest the shed had been broken
into, and his Humming-Bird taken, but a glance toward the
place seemed to show that it was all right.
Then Tom hastily made his way to where a flight of stairs
led to a little enclosed observatory on the roof.
"I'm going to see what sort of a craft it is making that
noise," he said.
As he opened the trap door, and stepped out into the
little observatory the sound was so plain as to startle him.
He looked up quickly, and, directly overhead he saw a
For, flying so low as to almost brush the lightning rod on
the chimney of the Swift home, was a small aeroplane, and,
as Tom looked up, he saw in a light that gleamed from it,
two figures looking down on him.
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Room | Tom
Swift And His Sky Racer