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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 Seventeen

Mr. Swift is Worse

Almost before the echoes of Eradicate's direful warning

cry had died away, Tom was on his way out of the house,

pausing only long enough to slip on a pair of shoes and his

trousers. There was but one thought in his mind. If he could

get the Humming-Bird safely out he would not care if the

shed did burn, even though it contained many valuable tools

and appliances.

"We must save my new aeroplane!" thought Tom, desperately.

"I've got to save her!"

As he raced through the hall he caught up a portable

chemical fire-extinguisher. Tom saw his father's door open,

and Mr. Swift looked out.

"What is it?" he called anxiously.

"Fire!" answered the young inventor, almost before he

thought of the doctor's warning that Mr. Swift must not be

excited. Tom wished he could recall the word, but it was too

late. Besides Eradicate, down in the yard was shouting at

the top of his voice:

"Fire! Fire! Fire!"

"Where, Tom?" gasped Mr. Swift, and his son thought the

aged inventor grew suddenly paler.

"Aeroplane shed," answered the lad. "But don't worry dad.

It's only a small blaze. We'll get it out. You stay here.

We'll attend to it--Mr. Jackson and Eradicate and I."

"No--I'm going to help!" exclaimed Mr.

Swift, sturdily. "I'll be with you, Tom. Go on!"

The lad rushed down to the yard, closely followed by the

engineer, who had caught up another extinguisher. Eradicate

was rushing about, not knowing what to do, but still keeping

up his shouting.

"It's on de roof! De roof am all blazin'!" he yelled.

"Quit your noise, and get to work!" cried Tom. "Get out a

ladder, Rad, and raise it to the side of the shed. Then play

this extinguisher on the blaze. Mr. Jackson, you help me run

the Humming-Bird out. After she's safe we'll tackle the


Tom cast a hurried look at the burning shed. The flames

were shooting high up from the roof, now, and eating their

way down. As he rushed toward the big doors, which he

intended to open to enable him to run out his sky racer, he

was wondering how the fire came to start so high up as the

roof. He wondered if a meteor could have fallen and caused


As the doors, which were quickly unlocked by Tom, swung

back, and as he and the engineer started to go in, they were

met by choking fumes as if of some gas. They recoiled for

the moment.

"What--what's that?" gasped Tom, coughing and sneezing.

"Some chemical--I--I don't know what kind," spluttered Mr.

Jackson. "Have you any carboys of acid in there Tom, that

might have exploded by the heat?"

"No; not a thing. Let's try again."

Once more they tried to go in, but were again driven back

by the distressing fumes. The fire was eating down, now.

There was a hole burned in the roof, and by the leaping

tongues of flame Tom could see his aeroplane. It was almost

in the path of the blaze.

"We must get her out!" he shouted. "I'm going in!"

But it was impossible, and the daring young inventor

nearly succumbed to the choking odors. Mr. Jackson dragged

him back.

"We can't go in!" he cried. "There has been some

mysterious work here! Those fumes were put here to keep us

from saving the machine. This fire has been set by some

enemy! We can't go in!"

"But I am going!" declared Tom. "We'll try the back door."

They rushed to that, but again were driven out by the

gases and vapors, which were mingled with the smoke.

Disheartened, yet with a wild desire to do something to save

his precious craft, Tom Swift drew back for a moment.

As he did so he heard a hiss, as Eradicate turned the

chemical stream on the blaze. Tom looked up. The faithful

colored man was on a ladder near the burning roof, acting

well his part as a fireman.

"That's the stuff!" cried Tom. "Come on, Mr. Jackson.

Maybe if we use the chemical extinguishers we can drive out

those fumes!"

The engineer understood. He took up the extinguisher he

had brought, and Tom got a second one from a nearby shed.

Then Mr. Swift came out bearing another.

"You shouldn't have come, dad! We can attend to it!" cried

Tom, fearing for the effect of the excitement on his invalid


"Oh, I couldn't stay there and see the shed burn. Are you

getting it under control? Why don't you run out the Humming-


Tom did not mention the choking fumes. He passed up a full

extinguisher to Eradicate, who had used all the chemical in

his. Then Tom got another ladder, and soon three streams

were being directed on the flames. They had eaten, a pretty

big hole in the roof, but the chemicals were slowly telling

on them.

As soon as he saw that Eradicate and Mr. Jackson could

control the blaze, Tom descended to the ground, and ran once

more to the big doors. He was determined to make another try

to wheel out the aeroplane, for he saw from above that the

flames were now on the side wall, and might reach the craft

any minute. And it would not take much to inflict serious

damage on the sky racer.

"I'll get her, fumes or no fumes!" murmured Tom, grimly.

And, whether it was the effect of the chemical streams, or

whether the choking odors were dissipated through the hole

in the roof was not manifested, but, at any rate, Tom found

that he could go in, though he coughed and gasped for


He wheeled the aeroplane outside, for the Humming-Bird was

almost as light as her namesake. A hurried glance by the

gleam of the dying fire assured Tom that his craft was not

damaged beyond a slight scorching of one of the wing tips.

"That was a narrow escape!" he murmured, as he wheeled the

sky racer far away, out of any danger from sparks. Then he

went back to help fight the fire, which was extinguished in

about ten minutes more.

"It was a mighty queer blaze," said Mr. Jackson, "starting

at the top that way. I wonder what caused it?"

"We'll investigate in the morning," decided Tom. "Now,

dad, you must get back to your room." He turned to help his

father in, but at that moment Mr. Swift, who was trying to

say something, fell over in a dead faint.

"Quick! Help me carry him into the house!" cried Tom.

"Then telephone for Dr. Gladby, Mr. Jackson."

The physician looked grave when, half an hour later, he

examined his patient.

"Mr. Swift is very much worse," he said in a low voice.

"The excitement of the fire has aggravated his ailment. I

would like another doctor to see him, Tom."

"Another doctor?" Tom's voice showed his alarm.

"Yes, we must have a consultation. I think Dr. Kurtz will

be a good one to call in. I should like his opinion before I

decide what course to take."

"I'll send Eradicate for him at once," said the young

inventor, and he went to give the colored man his

instructions, while his heart was filled with a great fear

for his father.



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