Part 4 out of 4
"The lightning!" exclaimed Tom. "The bolt that struck the ship
has knocked out some of our enemies! Now is the time to attack
The Mars seemed to have passed completely through a narrow
storm belt. She was now in a quiet atmosphere, though behind her
could be seen the fitful play of lightning, and there could be
heard the distant rumble of thunder.
"Come on!" cried Tom. "We must act quickly, while they are
demoralized! Come on!"
His friends needed no further urging. Jerry Mound and the
machinist rushed to the engine-room, to look after any of the
enemy that might be there, while Tom, Ned and the others ran into
the middle cabin.
"Grab 'em! Tie 'em up!" cried Tom, for they had no weapons with
which to make an attack.
But none were needed. So stunned were the foreigners by the
lightning bolt, which had miraculously passed our friends, and so
unnerved by the striking down of La Foy, their leader, that they
seemed like men half asleep. Before they could offer any
resistance they were bound with the same ropes that had held our
friends in bondage. That is, all but the big Frenchman himself.
He seemed beyond the need of binding.
Mound, the engineer, and his assistant, came hurrying in from
the motor-room, followed by Koku.
"We found him chained up," Jerry explained, as the big giant,
freed from his captivity, rubbed his chafed wrists.
"Are there any of the foreigners back there?,'
"Only those two knocked out by the lightning," the engineer
explained. "We've made them secure. I see you've got things here
"Yes," replied Tom. "And now to see where. we are, and to get
back home. Whew! But this has been a time! Koku, what happened to
"They no let anything happen. I be in chains all the while,"
the giant answered. "Jump on me before I can do anything!"
"Well, you're out, now, and I think we'll have you stand guard
over these men. The tables are turned, Koku."
The bound ones were carried to the same prison whence our
friends had escaped, but their bonds were not taken off, and Koku
was put in the place with them. By this time La Foy and the two
other stricken men showed signs of returning life. They had only
The young inventor and his friends, once more in possession of
their airship, lost little time in planning to return. They
found that the spies were all expert aeronauts, and had kept a
careful chart of their location. They were then halfway across
the Atlantic, and in a short time longer would probably have been
in some foreign country. But Tom turned the Mars about.
The craft had only been slightly damaged by the lightning bolt,
though three of the gas bag compartments were torn, The others
sufficed, however, to make the ship sufficiently buoyant.
When morning came Tom and his friends had matters running
almost as smoothly as before their capture.
The prisoners had no chance to escape, and, indeed, they seemed
to have been broken in spirit. La Foy was no longer the insolent,
mocking Frenchman that he had been, and the two chief foreign
engineers seemed to have lost some of their reason when the
lightning struck them.
"But it was a mighty lucky and narrow escape for us," said Ned,
as he and Tom sat in the pilot-house the second day of the return
"That's right," agreed his chum.
Once again they were above the earth, and, desiring to get rid
as soon as possible of the presence of the spies, a landing was
made near New York City, and the government authorities
communicated with. Captain Warner and Lieutenant Marbury took
charge of the prisoners, with some Secret Service men, and the
foreigners were soon safely locked up.
"And now what are you going to do, Tom?" asked Ned, when, once
more, they had the airship to themselves.
"I'm going back to Shopton, fix up the gas bag, and give her
another government trial," was the answer.
And, in due time, this was done. Tom added some improvements
to the aircraft, making it better than ever, and when she was
given the test required by the government, she was an unqualified
success, and the rights to the Mars were purchased for a large
sum. In sailing, and in the matter of guns and bombs, Tom's craft
answered every test.
"So you see I was right, after all, Dad," the young inventor
said, when informed that he had succeeded. "We can shoot off even
bigger guns than I thought from the deck of the Mars."
"Yes, Tom," replied the aged inventor, "I admit I was wrong."
Tom's aerial warship was even a bigger success than he had
dared to hope. Once the government men fully understood how to
run it, in which Tom played a prominent part in giving
instructions, they put the Mars to a severe test. She was taken
out over the ocean, and her guns trained on an obsolete
battleship. Her bombs and projectiles blew the craft to pieces.
"The Mars will be the naval terror of the seas in any future
war," predicted Captain Warner.
The Secret Service men succeeded in unearthing all the details
of the plot against Tom. His life, at times, had been in danger,
but at the last minute the man detailed to harm him lost his
It was Tom's enemies who had set on fire the red shed, and who
later tried to destroy the ship by putting a corrosive acid in
one of the propellers. That plot, though, was not wholly
successful. Then came the time when one of the spies hid on
board, and dropped the copper bar on the motor, short-circuiting
it. But for the storage-battery that scheme might have wrought
fearful damage. The spy who had stowed himself away on the craft
escaped at night by the connivance of one of Tom's corrupt
The foreign spies were tried and found guilty, receiving
merited punishment. Of course the governments to which they
belonged disclaimed any part in the seizure of Tom's aerial
It came out at the trial that one of Tom's most trusted
employees had proved a traitor, and had the night before the
test, allowed the foreign spies to secrete themselves on board,
to rush out at an opportune time to overpower our hero and his
friends. But luck was with Tom at the end.
"Well, what are you going to tackle next, Tom?" asked Ned, one
day about a month after these exciting experiences.
"I don't know," was the slow answer. "I think a self-swinging
hammock, under an apple tree, with a never-emptying pitcher of
ice-cold lemonade would be about the thing."
"Good, Tom! And, if you'll invent that, I'll share it with
"Well, come on, let's begin now," laughed Tom. "I need a
But it is very much to be doubted if Tom Swift, even on a
vacation, could refrain from trying to invent something, either
in the line of airships, water, or land craft. And so, until he
again comes to the front with something flew, we will take leave