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."
"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
"And--and if the current hadn't come on again; eh, Tom?
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
"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."
"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 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
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
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
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,
he forget the thrilling happenings that fell to his lot
while flying for the ten-thousand dollar prize in his sky racer.
Top of Page
Room | Tom
Swift And His Sky Racer