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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 Twenty-Five

Home Again--Conclusion


Mr. Sharp pushed his way through the crowd.

"The committee has the certified check ready for you,

Tom," called the balloonist. "Will you come and get it?"

"Send it to me, please," answered the young inventor. "I

must go to my father."

"Huh! I'd have beaten him in another round," boasted Andy

Foger. No one paid any attention to him.

"Monsieur ezz plucky!" said the Frenchman, Perique. "I am

honaired to shake his hand! He has broken all ze records!"

"Dot's der best machine I effer saw," spoke the Dutchman,

De Tromp, ponderously. "Shake hands!"

"Ver' fine, ver' good!" came from the little Japanese, and

all the contestants congratulated Tom warmly. Never before

had a hundred miles been covered so speedily.

A man elbowed his way through the press of people.

"Is your machine fully protected by patents?" he inquired


"It is," said Tom.

"Then, as a representative of the United States

Government, I would like an option to purchase the exclusive

right to use them," said the man. "Can you guarantee that no

one else has any plans of them? It will mean a fortune to


Tom hesitated. He thought of the stolen plans. If he could

only get possession of them! He glanced at Andy Foger, who

was wheeling his machine hack into the tent. But there was

no time now to have it out with the bully.

"I will see you again," said Tom to the government agent.

"I must go to my father, who is dying. I can't answer you


The tanks were filled. Tom gave a hasty look to his

machine, and, bidding his new friends fairwell, he and Mr.

Damon took their places aboard the Humming-Bird. The little

craft rose in the air, and soon they had left Eagle Park far

behind. Eagerly Tom strained his eyes for a sight of his

home town, though he knew it would be several hours ere he

could hover over it.

Would he be in time? Would he be in time? That question

came to him again and again.

For a time the Humming-Bird skimmed along as though she

delighted in the rapid motion, in slipping through the air

and sliding along on the billows of wind. Tom, with critical

ears, listened to the hum of the motor, the puffing of the

exhaust, the grinding of the gear wheels, and the clicking

of the trips, as valve after valve opened or closed to admit

the mixture of air and gasoline, or closed to give the

compression necessary for the proper explosion.

"Is she working all right?" asked Mr. Damon, anxiously,

and, such was the strain on him that he did not think to

bless anything. "Is she all right, Tom, my lad?"

"I think so. I'm speeding her to the limit. Faster than I

ever did before, but I guess she'll do. She was built to

stand a strain, and she's got to do it now!"

Then there was silence again, as they slid along through

the air like a coaster gliding down a steep descent.

"It was a great race, wasn't it?" asked Mr. Damon, as he

shifted to an easier position in his seat. "A great race,

Tom. I didn't think you'd do it, one spell there."

"Neither did I," came the answer, as the young inventor

changed the spark lever. "But I made up my mind I wouldn't

be beaten by Andy Foger, if I could help it. Though it was

taking a risk to shut off the current the way I did."

"A risk?"

"Yes; it might not have started again," and Tom looked

down at the earth below them, as if measuring the distance he

would have fallen had not his sky racer kept on at the

critical moment.

"And--and if the current hadn't come on again; eh, Tom?

Would we--?"

Mr. Damon did not finish, but Tom knew what he meant.

"It would have been all up with us," he said simply. "I

might have volplaned back to earth, but at the speed we were

going, and at the height, around a curve, we might have

turned turtle."

"Bless my--!" began Mr. Damon, and then he stopped. The

thought of Tom's trouble came to him, and he realized that

his words might grate on the feelings of his companion.

On they rushed through the air with the Humming-Bird

speeded up faster and faster as she warmed to her task. The

machinery seemed to be working perfectly, and as Tom

listened to the hum a look of pleasure replaced the look of

anxiety on his face.

"Don't you think we'll make it?" asked Mr. Damon, after

another pause, during which they passed over a large city,

the inhabitants exhibiting much excitement as they sighted

the airship over their heads.

"We've got to make it!" declared Tom between his clenched


Ne turned on a little more gasoline, and there was a spurt

in their speed which made Mr. Damon grasp the upright braces

near him with firm hands, and his face became a little paler

"It's all right," spoke Tom, reassuringly. "There's no danger."

But Tom almost reckoned without his host, for a few

moments later, as he was trying to get more revolutions out

of the propellers, he ran into an adverse current of air.

In an instant the Humming-Bird was tilted up almost on her

"beams' ends," so to speak, and had it not been that the

young inventor quickly warped the wing tips, to counteract

the pressure on one side, there might have been a different

end to this story.

"Bless my----!" began Mr. Damon, but he got no further,

for he had to bend his body as Tom did, to equalize the

pressure of the wind current.

"A little farther over!" yelled the lad. "A little farther

over this way, Mr. Damon!"

"But if I come any more toward you I'll be out of my

seat!" objected the eccentric man.

"If you don't you'll be out of the aeroplane!" cried Tom

grimly, and his companion leaned over as far as he could

until the young pilot had brought the craft to an even keel


Then Tom speeded up the motor, which he had partly shut

down as they passed through the danger zone, and again they

were racing through space.

They were nearing Shopton now, as the lad and Mr. Damon

could tell by the familiar landmarks which loomed up in

sight. Tom strained his eyes for the first view of his home.

Suddenly, as they were skimming along, there came a

cessation of the hum and roar that told of the perfectly-

working motor. It was an ominous silence.

"What's--what's wrong?" gasped Mr. Damon.

"Something's given way," answered Tom quickly. "I'm afraid

the magneto isn't sparking as it ought to."

"Well, can't we volplane hack to earth?" asked the odd

man, for he had become familiar with this feat when anything

happened to the motor.

"We could," answered Tom, "but I'm not going to."

"Why not?"

"Because we're too far from Shopton--and dad! I'm going to

keep on. I've got to--if I want to be there in time!"

"But if the motor doesn't work?"

"I'll make her work!"

Tom was desperately manipulating the various levers and

handles connected with the electrical ignition system. He

tried in vain to get the magneto to resume the giving out of

sparks, and, failing in that, he switched on the batteries.

But, to his horror, the dry cells had given out. There was

no way of getting a spark unless the little electrical

machine would work.

The propellers were still whirring around by their own

momentum, and if Tom could switch in the magneto in time all

might yet be well.

They had started to fall, but, by quickly bringing up the

head plane tips, Tom sent his craft soaring upward again on

a bank of air.

"Here!" he cried to Mr. Damon. "Take the steering-wheel

and kept her on this level as long as you can."

"What are you going to do?"

"I've got to fix that magneto!"

"But if she dips down?"

"Throw up the head planes as I did. It's our only chance!

I can't go down now, so far from Shopton!"

Mr. Damon reached over and took the wheel from Tom's

hands. Then the young inventor, leaning forward, for the

magneto was within easy reach, looked to see what the

trouble was. He found it quickly. A wire had vibrated loose

from a binding-post. In a second Tom had it in place again;

and, ere the propellers had ceased revolving, he had turned

the switch. The magneto took up the work in a flash. Once

more the spark exploded the gasoline mixture, and the

propellers sent the Humming-Bird swiftly ahead.

"We'll make it now!" declared Tom grimly.

"We're almost there," added Mr. Damon, as he relinquished

the wheel to the young pilot. The craft had gone down some,

but Tom sent her up again.

Nearer and nearer home they came, until at last the spires

of the Shopton churches loomed into view. Then he was over

the village. Now he was within sight of his own house.

Tom coasted down a bank of air, and brought the Humming-

Bird up with a jerk of the ground brakes. Before the wheels

had ceased turning he had leaped out.

"It's Massa Tom!" cried Eradicate, as he saw Tom alight.

The young inventor hurried into the house. He was met by

the nurse, who held up a warning finger. Tom's heart almost

stopped beating. He was aware that Dr. Gladby came from the

room where Mr. Swift lay.

"Is he--is he--am I too late?" gulped Tom.

"Hush!" cautioned the nurse.

Tom reeled, and would have fallen had not the doctor

caught him, for the lad was weak and wornout.

"He is going to get well!" were the joyful words he heard,

as if in a dream, and then his strength suddenly came back

to him. "The crisis is just passed, Tom," went on Dr.

Gladby, "and your father will recover, and be stronger than

ever. Your good news of winning was like a tonic to him. Now

let me congratulate you on the race." Tom had flashed by

wireless a brief message of his success.

"Dad's news is better than all the congratulations in the

world," he said softly, as he grasped the doctor's hand.

* * * * * *

It was a week later. Mr. Swift improved rapidly once the

course of the disease was permanently checked, and he was

soon able to sit up. Tom was with him in the room, talking

of the great race, and how he had won. He fingered the

certified check for ten thousand dollars that had just come

to him by mail.

"You certainly did wonderfully well," said the aged

inventor, softly. "Wonderfully well, Tom. I'm proud of you."

"You may well be," added Mr. Damon. "Bless my shoelaces,

but I thought Andy Foger had us there one spell; didn't you,


"Indeed I did. But you helped me win, Mr. Damon."

"Nonsense!" exclaimed the odd man.

"Yes, you did. You helped me a lot."

"Well, are you going to keep after more air-prizes, Tom, or

are you going to try for something else?" asked his father.

"I don't believe I'll go in any more aeroplane races right

away," answered the young inventor. "For some time I've been

wanting to complete and perfect my electric rifle. I think

I'll begin work on that soon."

"And go hunting?" asked Mr. Damon.

"I think so," answered Tom, dreamily. "I don't know just

where, though."

Where he went, and what he shot, will be told in the next

volume of this series, to be called: "Tom Swift and His

Electric Rifle; or, Daring Adventures in Elephant Land."

For a few moments after Tom's announcement no one spoke,

then the young inventor said:

"It's too bad that first set of plans were stolen. If I

had them I could make a good deal with the Government about

my little aeroplane. But they don't want to take up with it

as long as there is a chance of some foreign nation getting

information about the secret parts, and my patents won't

hold abroad. I wonder if there is any way of getting those

plans away from Andy Foger? I don't understand why he

hasn't used them before this. I thought sure he would make

a craft like the Humming-Bird to race against me."

"What plans are those?" asked Mr. Swift.

"Why, don't you remember?" asked Tom. "The ones I showed

you one day, in the library, when you fell asleep, and some

one slipped in and stole them."

A curious look came over Mr. Swift's face. He passed his

hand across his brow.

"I am beginning to remember something I have been trying

to recall ever since I became ill," he said slowly. "It is

coming back to me. Those plans--in the library--I fell

asleep, but before I did so I hid those plans, Tom!"

"You hid those plans!" Tom fairly shouted the words.

"Yes, I remember feeling a drowsy feeling coming on, and

I feared lest some one might see the drawings. I got up and

put them under the window, in a little, hollow place in the

foundation wall. Then I came back in through the window

again, and went to sleep. Then, on account of my illness,

just as I once before forgot something, and thought the

minister had called, I lost all recollection of them. I hid

those plans."

Tom leaped to his feet. He rushed to the place named by

his father. Soon his triumphant shout told of his success.

He came hurrying back into the house with a roll of papers

in his hands.

And there were the long-missing plans! damp and stained by

the weather, but all there. No enemy had them, and Tom's

secret was safe.

"Now I can accept the Government offer!" he cried. And a

few weeks later he made a most advantageous deal with the

United States officials for his patents.

Dr. Gladby explained that Mr. Swift's queer action was due

to his illness. He became liable to lapses of memory, and

one happened just after he hid away the plans. Even the

hiding of them was caused by the peculiar condition of his

brain. He had opened the library window, slipped oat with

the papers, and hastened in again, to fall asleep in his

chair, during the short time Tom was gone.

"And Andy Foger never took them at all," remarked Mary

Nestor, when Tom was telling her about it a few days


"No. I guess I must apologize to him." Which Tom did, but

Andy did not receive it very graciously, especially as Tom

accused him of trying to destroy the Humming-Bird.

Andy denied this and denied having anything to do with the

mysterious fire, and, as there was no way to prove him

guilty, Tom could not proceed against him. So the matter

was dropped.

Mr. Swift continued to improve, and was soon himself

again, and able to resume his inventive work. Tom received

several offers to give exhibition flights at big aero meets,

but refused, as he was busy on his new rifle. Mr. Damon

helped him.

Andy Foger made several successful flights in his queer

aeroplane, which turned out to be the product of a German

genius who was supplied with money by Mr. Foger. Andy became

very proud, and boasted that he and the German were going

abroad to give flights in Europe.

"I'd be glad if he would," said Tom, when he heard of the

plan. "He wouldn't bother me then."

With the money received from winning the big race, and

from his contracts from the Government, Tom Swift was now in

a fair way to become quite wealthy. He was destined to have

many more adventures; yet, come what might, never would

he forget the thrilling happenings that fell to his lot

while flying for the ten-thousand dollar prize in his sky racer.



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