A Nervy Specialist
There was little time to lose. Every moment of delay meant
so much less chance for the recovery of Mr. Swift. Even now
the periods of consciousness were becoming shorter and
farther apart. He seemed to be sinking.
Tom resolutely refused to think of the possibility of
death, as he went in to bid his parent good-by before
starting off on his trip through the air. Mr. Swift barely
knew his son, and, with tears in his eyes, though he bravely
tried to keep them back, the young inventor went out into
There stood the Humming-Bird, with Mr. Jackson, Mr. Damon
and Eradicate working over her, to get her in perfect trim
for the race before her--a race with death.
Fortunately there was little to be done to get the speedy
craft ready. Tom had accomplished most of what was
necessary, while waiting for word from Dr. Hendrix. Now
about all that needed to be done was to see that there was
plenty of gasoline and oil in the reservoirs.
"I'll give you a note to Dr. Hendrix," said Mr. Gladby, as
Tom was fastening on his faceguard. "I--I trust you won't be
disappointed, Tom. I hope he will consent to return with
"He's got to come," said the young inventor, simply, as if
that was all there was to it.
"Do you think you can make the trip in time?" asked Mr.
Damon. "It is a little less than a hundred miles in an
airline, but you have to go and go back. Can the aeroplane
"I'd be ashamed of her if she couldn't," said Tom, with a
grim tightening of his lips. "She's just got to do it;
that's all! But I know she will," and he patted the big
propeller and the motor's shining cylinders as though the
machine was a thing alive, like a horse or a dog, who could
He climbed to his seat, the other one holding a bag of
sand to maintain a good balance.
"Start her," ordered Tom, and Mr. Jackson twisted the
propeller. The motor caught at once, and the air throbbed
with the noise of the explosions. Tom listened to the tune
of the machinery. It sang true.
"Two thousand pounds thrust!" called the engineer, as he
looked at the scale.
"Let her go!" cried Tom, whose voice was hardly heard
above the roar. The trim little aeroplane scudded over the
ground, gathering speed at every revolution of the wheels.
Then with a spring like that of some great bird launching
itself in flight, she left the earth, and took to the air.
Tom was off on his trip.
Those left behind sent up a cautious cheer, for they did
not want to disturb Mr. Swift. They waved their hands to the
young inventor, and he waved his in reply. Then he settled
down for one of the swiftest flights he had ever undertaken.
Tom ascended until he struck a favorable current of air.
There was a little wind blowing in the direction he wished
to take, and that aided him. But even against a powerful
head-wind the Humming-Bird could make progress.
The young inventor saw the ground slipping backward
beneath him. Carefully he watched the various indicators,
and listened intently to the sound of the cylinders'
explosions. They came rapidly and regularly. The motor was
Tom glanced at the barograph. It registered two thousand
feet, and he decided to keep at about that height, as it
gave him a good view, and he could see to steer, for a route
had been hastily mapped out for him by his friends.
Over cities, towns, villages, scattered farmhouses; across
stretches of forest; over rivers, above big stretches of
open country he flew. Often he could see eager crowds below,
gazing up at him. But he paid no heed. He was looking for a
sight of a certain broad river, which was near Kirkville.
Then he knew he would be close to his goal.
He had speeded up the motor to the limit, and there was
nothing to do now, save to manage the planes, wing tips and
rudders, and to see that the gasoline and oil were properly
fed to the machine.
Faster and faster went the Humming-Bird, but Tom's
thoughts were even faster. He was thinking of many things--
of his father--of what he would do if Mr. Swift died--of the
mysterious airship--of the stolen plans--of the fire in the
shed--of the great race--and of Andy Foger.
He took little note of time, and when, in less than an
hour he sighted the river that told him he was near to
Kirkville, he was rather startled.
"You certainly did come right along, Humming-Bird!" he
He descended several hundred feet, and, as he passed over
the town, the people of which grew wildly excited, he looked
about for the house of the noted specialist. He knew how to
pick it out, for Dr. Gladby had described it to him, and Tom
was glad to see, as he came within view of the residence,
that it was surrounded by a large yard.
"I can land almost at his door," he said, and he did,
volplaning to earth with an ease born of long practice.
To say that Dr. Hendrix was astonished when Tom dropped in
on him in this manner, would not be exactly true. The
specialist was not in the habit of receiving calls from
youths in aeroplanes, but the fact was, that Dr. Hendrix was
so absorbed in his work, and thought so constantly about it,
that it took a great deal to startle him out of his usual
"And so you came for me in your aeroplane?" he asked of
Tom, as he gazed at the trim little craft. It is doubtful if
he really saw it, however, as Dr. Hendrix was just then
thinking of an operation he had performed a few hours
before. "I'm sorry you had your trip for nothing," he went
on. "I'd like very much to come to your father, but didn't
you get my telegram, telling about the broken bridge? There
is no way for me to get to Shopton in time."
"Yes, there is!" cried Tom, eagerly.
"The same way I came--in the aeroplane! Dr. Hendrix you
must go back with me! It's the only way to save my father's
life. Come with me in the Humming-Bird. It's perfectly safe.
I can make the trip in less than an hour. I can carry you
and your instruments. Will you come? Won't you come to save
my father's life?" Tom was fairly pleading now.
"A trip in an aeroplane," mused Dr. Hendrix "I've never
taken such a thing. I--"
"Don't be afraid, there's really no danger," said Tom.
The physician seemed to reach a sudden conclusion. His
eyes brightened. He walked over and looked at the little
Humming-Bird. For the time being he forgot about his
"I'll go with you!" he suddenly cried. "I'll go with you,
Tom Swift! If you've got the nerve, so have I! and if my
science and skill can save your father's life, he'll live to
be an old man! Wait until I get my bag and I'll be with
Tom's heart gave a bound of hope.
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Room | Tom
Swift And His Sky Racer