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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 Fifteen

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

terrific strain.

"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

were painted.

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

curious sight.

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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