Just in Time
While Dr. Hendrix was in his office, getting ready to make
the thrilling trip through the air with Tom, the young
inventor spent a few minutes going over his monoplane. The
wonderful little craft had made her first big flight in
excellent time, though Tom knew she could do better the
farther she was flown. Not a stay had started, not a guy
wire was loose. The motor had not overheated, and every
bearing was as cool as though it had not taken part in
thousands of revolutions.
"Oh, I can depend on you!" murmured Tom, as he looked to
see that the propeller was tight on the shaft. He gave the
bearing a slight adjustment to make sure of it.
He was at this when the specialist reappeared. Dr.
Hendrix, after his first show of excitement, when he had
made his decision to accompany Tom, had resumed his usual
calm demeanor. Once again he was the grave surgeon, with his
mind on the case before him.
"Well, is my auto ready?" he asked absentmindedly. Then,
as he saw the little aeroplane, and Tom standing waiting
beside it, he added: "Oh, I forgot for the moment that I was
to make a trip through the air, instead of in my car. Well,
Mr. Swift, are we all ready?"
"All ready," replied the young inventor. "We're going to
make fast time, Dr. Hendrix. You'd better put this on," and
Tom extended a face protector.
"What's it for?" The physician looked curiously at it.
"To keep the air from cutting your cheeks and lips. We are
going to travel a hundred miles an hour this trip."
"A hundred miles an hour!" Dr. Hendrix spoke as though he
would like to back out.
"Maybe more, if I can manage it," went on Tom, calmly, as
he proceeded to remove the bag of sand from the place where
the surgeon was to sit. Then he looked to the various
equilibrium arrangements and the control levers. He was so
cool about it, taking it all for granted, as if rising and
flying through the air at a speed rivaling that of the
fastest birds, was a matter of no moment, that Dr. Hendrix
was impressed by the calm demeanor of the young inventor.
"Very well," said the surgeon with a shrug of his
shoulders, "I guess I'm game, Tom Swift."
The doctor took the seat Tom pointed out to him, with his
bag of instruments on his knees. He put on the face
protector, and had, at the suggestion of our hero, donned a
"For it's cold in the upper regions," said Tom.
Several servants in the physician's household had gathered
to see him depart in this novel fashion, and the chauffeur
of the auto, in which the specialist usually made his calls,
was also there.
"I'll give you a hand," said the chauffeur to the young
inventor. "I was at an aviation meet once, and I know how
"Good," exclaimed Tom. "Then you can hold the machine, and
shove when I give the word."
Tom started the propeller himself, and quickly jumped into
his seat. The chauffeur held back the Humming-Bird until the
young aviator had speeded up the motor.
"Let go!" cried the youthful inventor, and the man gave
the little craft a shove. Across the rather uneven ground of
the doctor's yard it ran, straight for a big iron barrier.
"Look out! We'll be into the fence!" shouted the surgeon.
"We'll be killed!" He seemed about to leap off.
"Sit still!" cried Tom, and at that instant he tilted the
elevation planes, and the craft shot upward, going over the
fence like a circus horse taking a seven-barred gate.
"Oh!" exclaimed the physician in a curious voice. They
were off on their trip to save the life of Mr. Swift.
What the sensations of the celebrated specialist were, Tom
never learned. If he was afraid, his fright quickly gave
place to wonder, and the wonder soon changed to delight as
the machine rose higher and higher, acquired more speed, and
soared in the air over the country that spread out in all
directions from Kirkville.
"Magnificent! Magnificent!" murmured the doctor, and then
Tom knew that the surgeon was in the grip of the air, and
was one of the "bird-men."
Every moment the Humming-Bird increased her speed. They
passed over the river near where men were working on the
broken bridge. It was now no barrier to them. Tom, noting
the barograph, and seeing that they were twenty-two hundred
feet high, decided to keep at about that distance from the
"How fast are we going?" cried Dr. Hendrix, into the ear
of the young inventor.
"Just a little short of a hundred an hour!" Tom shouted
back. "We'll hit a hundred and five before long."
His prediction proved true, and when about forty miles
from Shopton that terrific speed had been attained. It
seemed as if they were going to have a trip devoid of
incident, and Tom was congratulating himself on the quick
time made, when he ran into a contrary strata of air. Almost
before he knew it the Humming-Bird gave a dangerous and
sickening dive, and tilted at a terrifying angle.
"Are we going to turn turtle?" cried the doctor.
"I--I hope not!" gasped Tom. He could not understand why
the equilibrium weights did not work, but he had no time
then to investigate. Quickly he warped the wing tips and
brought the craft up on an even keel.
He gave a sigh of relief as the aeroplane was once more
shooting forward, and he was not mistaken when he thought he
heard Dr. Hendrix murmur a prayer of thankfulness. Their
escape had been a narrow one. Tom's nerve, and the coolness
of the physician, had alone saved them from a fall to death.
But now, as if ashamed of her prank, the Humming-Bird went
along even better than before. Tom was peering through the
slight haze that hung over the earth, for a sight of
Shopton. At length the spires of the churches came into
"There it is," he called, pointing downward. "We'll land
in two minutes more."
"No time to spare," murmured the doctor, who knew the
serious nature of the aged inventor's illness. "How long did
it take us?"
"Fifty-one minutes," replied Tom, glancing at a small
clock in front of him. Then he shut off the motor and
volplaned to earth, to the no small astonishment of the
surgeon. He made a perfect landing in the yard before the
shed, leaped from his seat, and called:
"Come, Dr. Hendrix!"
The surgeon followed him. Dr. Gladby and Dr. Kurtz came to
the door of the house. On their faces were grave looks. They
greeted the celebrated surgeon eagerly.
"Well?" he asked quickly, and they knew what he meant.
"You are only just in time," said Dr. Gladby, softly, and
Tom, following the doctors into the house, wondered if his
trip with the specialist had been in vain.
Top of Page
Room | Tom
Swift And His Sky Racer