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
"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
"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
"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
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
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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Swift And His Sky Racer