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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 Eighteen

The Broken Bridge

Dr. Kurtz looked as grave as did Dr. Gladby when he had

made an examination of the patient. Mr. Swift was still in a

semi-conscious condition, hardly breathing as he rested on

the bed where they had placed him after the fire.

"Vell," said the German physician, after a long silence,

"vot is your obinion, my dear Gladby?"

"I think an operation is necessary."

"Yes, dot is so; but you know vot kind of an operation

alone vill safe him; eh, my dear Gladby?"

Dr. Gladby nodded.

"It will be a rare and delicate one," he said. "There is

but one surgeon I know of who can do it."

"You mean Herr Hendrix?" asked Dr. Kurtz.

"Yes, Dr. Edward Hendrix, of Kirkville. If he can be

induced to come I think there is a chance of saving Mr.

Swift's life. I'll speak to Tom about it."

The two physicians, who had been consulting together,

summoned the youth from another room, where, with Mrs.

Baggert and Mr. Jackson he had been anxiously awaiting the


"What is it?" the young inventor asked Dr. Gladby.

The medical man told him to what conclusion he and his

colleague had arrived, adding:

"We advise that Dr. Hendrix be sent for at once. But I

need hardly tell you, Tom, that he is a noted specialist,

and his services are in great demand. He is hard to get."

"I'll pay him any sum he asks!" burst out the youth. "I'll

spend all my fortune--and I have made considerable money of

late--I'll spend every cent to get my father well! Money

need not stand in the way, Dr. Gladby."

"I knew that, Tom. Still Dr. Hendrix is a

very busy man, and it is hard to induce him to

come a long distance. It is over a hundred miles

to Kirkville, and it is an out-of-the-way place.

I never could understand why Dr. Hendrix

settled there. But there he is, and if we want him

he will have to come from there. The worst of

it is that there are few trains, and only a single

railroad line from there to Shopton."

"Then I'll telegraph," decided Tom. "I'll offer him his

own price, and ask him to rush here as soon as he can."

"You had better let Dr. Kurtz and me attend to that part

of it," suggested the physician. "Dr. Hendrix would hardly

come on the request of some one whom he did not know. I'll

prepare a telegram, briefly explaining the case. It is the

sort of an operation Dr. Hendrix is much interested in, and

I think he will come on that account, if for no other

reason. I'll write out the message, and you can have

Eradicate take it to the telegraph office."

"I'll take it myself!" exclaimed Tom, as he got ready to

go out into the night with the urgent request. "Is there any

immediate danger for my father?" he asked.

"No; not any immediate danger," replied Dr. Gladby. "But

the operation is imperative if he is to live. It is his one

and only chance."

Tom thought only of his father as he hurried on through

the night. Even the prospect of the great race, so soon to

take place, had no part in his mind.

"I'll not race until I'm sure dad is going to get better,"

he decided. With the message to the noted specialist Tom

also sent one to Mr. Damon, telling him the news, and asking

him to come to Shopton. Tom felt that the presence of the

odd gentleman would help him, and Mr. Damon, who first

intended to stay on at the Swift home until he and Tom

departed for Eagle Park, had gone back to his own residence

to attend to some business Tom knew he would come in the

morning, and Mr. Damon did arrive on the first train.

"Bless my soul!" he exclaimed with ready sympathy, as he

extended his hand to Tom. "What's all this?" The young

inventor told him, beginning with the fire that had been the

cause of the excitement which produced the change in Mr.


"But I have great hopes that the specialist will be able

to cure him," said Tom, for, with the coming of daylight,

his courage had returned to him. "Dr. Gladby and Dr. Kurtz

depend a great deal on Dr. Hendrix," he said.

"Yes, he certainly is a wonderful man. I have heard a

great deal about him. I have no doubt but what he will cure

your father. But about the fire? How did it start?"

"I don't know, but now that I have a few hours to spare

before the doctor can get here, I'm going to make an


"Bless my penwiper, but I'll help you."

Tom went into the house, to inquire of Mrs. Baggert, for

probably the tenth time that morning, how his father was

doing. Mr. Swift was still in a semi-conscious condition,

but he recognized Tom, when the youth stood at his bedside.

"Don't worry about me, son," said the brave old inventor,

as he took Tom's hand. "I'll be all right. Go ahead and get

ready for the race. I want you to win!"

Tears came into Tom's eyes. Would his father be well

enough to allow him to take part in the big event? He feared


By daylight it was seen that quite a hole had been burned

in the aeroplane shed. Tom and Mr. Damon, accompanied by Mr.

Jackson, walked through the place.

"And you say the fire broke out right after you had seen

the mysterious airship hovering over the house?" asked the

eccentric man.

"Well, not exactly after," answered Tom, "but within an

hour or so. Why do you ask?"

But Mr. Damon did not answer. Something on the floor of the shed,

amid a pile of blackened and charred pieces of wood,

attracted his attention. He stooped over and picked it up.

"Is this yours?" he asked Tom.

"No. What is it?"

The object looked like a small iron ball, with a tube

about half an inch in diameter projecting slightly from it.

Tom took it'.

"Why, it looks like an infernal machine or a dynamite

bomb," he said. "I wonder where it came from? Guess I'd

better drop it in a pail of water. Maybe Eradicate found it

and brought it here. I never saw it before. Mr. Jackson,

please hand me that pail of water. We'll soak this bomb."

"There is no need," said Mr. Damon, quietly. "It is

harmless now. It has done its work. It was that which set

fire to your shed, and which caused the stifling fumes."

"That?" cried Tom.

"Yes. This ball is hollow, and was filled with a chemical.

It was dropped on the roof, and, after a certain time, the

plug in the tube was eaten through, the chemicals ran out,

set the roof ablaze, and, dripping down inside spread the

choking odors that nearly prevented you from getting out

your aeroplane."

"Are you sure of this?" asked the young inventor.

"Positive. I read about these bombs recently. A German

invented them to be used in attacking a besieged city in

case of war."

"But how did this one get on my shed roof?" asked Tom.

"It was dropped there by the mysterious airship!"

exclaimed the odd man. "That was why the aeroplane moved

about over your place. Those in it hoped that the fire would

not break out until you were all asleep, and that the shed

and the Humming-Bird would be destroyed before you came to

the rescue. Some of your enemies are still after you, Tom."

"And it was Andy Foger, I'll wager!" he cried. "He was in

that aircraft! Oh, I'll have a long score to settle with him!"

"Of course you can't be sure it was he," said Mr. Damon,

"but I wouldn't be a bit surprised but what it was. Andy is

capable of such a thing. He wanted to prevent you from

taking part in the race."

"Well, he sha'n't!" cried Tom, and then he thought of his

invalid father. They made a further examination of the shed,

and discovered another empty bomb. Then Tom recalled having

seen something drop from the mysterious aeroplane as it

passed over the shed.

"It was these bombs," he said. "We certainly had a narrow

escape! Oh, wait until I settle my score with Andy Foger!"

As there would be but little use for the aeroplane shed

now, if Tom sent his craft off to the meet, it was decided

to repair it temporarily only, until he returned.

Accordingly, a big tarpaulin was fastened over the hole in

the roof. Then Tom put a new wing tip on in place of the one

that had been scorched. He looked all over his sky racer,

and decided that it was in fit condition for the coming


"I'll begin to take it apart for shipment, as soon as I

hear from the specialist that dad is well enough for me to

go," he said.

It was a few hours after the discovery of the empty bomb

that Tom saw Dr. Gladby coming along. The physician was

urging his horse to top speed. Tom felt a vague fear in his


"I've got a message from Dr. Hendrix, Tom," he said, as he

stopped his carriage, and approached the lad.

"When can he come?" asked the young inventor, eagerly.

"He can't get here, Tom."

"Can't get here! Why not?"

"Because the railroad bridge has collapsed, and there is

no way to come. He can't make any other connections to get

here in time--in time to do your father any good, Tom. He

has just sent me a telegram to that effect. Dr. Hendrix

can't get here, and..." Dr. Gladby paused.

"Do you mean that my father may die if the operation is

not performed?" asked Tom, in a low voice.

"Yes," was the answer.

"But can't Dr. Hendrix drive here in an auto?" asked the

lad. "Surely there must be some way of getting over the

river, even if the railroad bridge is down. Can't he cross

in a boat and drive here?"

"He wouldn't be in time, Tom. Don't you understand, Dr.

Hendrix must be here within four hours, if he is to save

your father's life. He never could do it by driving or by

coming on some other road, or in an auto. He can't make the

proper connections. There is no way."

"Yes, there is!" cried Tom, suddenly. "I know a way!"

"How?" asked Dr. Gladby, thrilled by Tom's ringing tones.

"How can you do it, Tom?"

"I'll go for Dr. Hendrix in my Humming-Bird."

"Going for him would do no good. He must be brought here."

"And so he shall be!" cried Tom. "I'll bring him here in

my sky racer--if he has the nerve to stand the journey, and

I think he has! I'll bring Dr. Hendrix here!" and Tom

hurried away to prepare for the thrilling trip.



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