Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

TOM SWIFT AND HIS WIZARD CAMERA OR Thrilling Adventures While Taking Moving Pictures

Part 1 out of 4

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.3 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Thrilling Adventures While Taking Moving Pictures






"Some one to see you, Mr. Tom."

It was Koku, or August, as he was sometimes called, the new
giant servant of Tom Swift, who made this announcement to the
young inventor.

"Who is it, Koku?" inquired Tom, looking up from his work-bench
in the machine shop, where he was busy over a part of the motor
for his new noiseless airship. "Any one I know? Is it the
'Blessing Man?'" for so Koku had come to call Mr. Damon, an
eccentric friend of Tom's.

"No, not him. A strange man. I never see before. He say he got
quick business."

"Quick business; eh? I guess you mean important, Koku," for
this gigantic man, one of a pair that Tom had brought with him
after his captivity in "Giant Land," as he called it, could not
speak English very well, as yet. "Important business; eh, Koku?
Did he send in his card?"

"No, Mr. Tom. Him say he have no card. You not know him, but he
very much what you call--recited."

"Excited I guess you mean, Koku. Well, tell him to wait a few
minutes, and I'll see him. You can show him in then. But I say,
Koku," and Tom paused as he looked at the big man, who had
attached himself to our hero, as a sort of personal helper and

"Yes, Mr. Tom; what is it?"

"Don't let him go poking around the shop. He might look at some
of my machines that I haven't got fully patented yet. Is he in
the front office?"

"That's where him am. He be lookin' at pictures on the walls."

"Oh, that's all right then. Just keep him there. And, Koku,
don't let him come back in the shop here, until I get ready to
see him. I'll ring the bell when I am."

"All right, Mr. Tom."

Koku, very proud of his, mission of keeping guard over the
strange visitor, marched from the room with his big strides, his
long arms and powerful hands swinging at his sides, for Koku, or
August, as Tom had rechristened him, and as he often called him
(for it was in the month of August that he had located the
giants) was a very powerful man. A veritable giant, being
extremely tall, and big in proportion.

"Be sure. Don't let him in here, Koku!" called Tom, in an
additional warning, as his new servant left the main shop.

"Sure not!" exclaimed Koku, very earnestly.

"I don't know who he may be," mused Tom, as he began putting
away the parts to his new noiseless motor, so that the stranger
could not see them, and profit thereby. "It looks rather funny,
not sending in his name. It may be some one who thinks he can
spring a trick on me, and get some points about my inventions, or

"It may even be somebody sent on by Andy Foger, or his father.
I can't be too careful. I'll just put everything away that isn't
fully covered by patents, and then if he wants to infringe on any
of the machines I can sue him."

Tom looked about the shop, which was filled with strange
machinery, most of which had been made by himself, or his father,
or under their combined directions. There was a big biplane in
one corner, a small monoplane in another, parts of a submarine
boat hanging up overhead, and a small, but very powerful,
electric auto waiting to have some repairs made to it, for on his
last trip in it Tom Swift had suffered a slight accident.

"There, I guess he can't see anything but what I want him to,"
mused Tom, as he put away the last part of a new kind of motor,
from which he hoped great things. "Let's see, yes, it's out of
sight now. I wish Ned Newton, or Mr. Damon were here to be a
witness in case he starts anything. But then I have Koku, even if
he doesn't speak much English yet. If it comes to blows--well, I
wouldn't want that giant to hit me," finished Tom with a laugh,
as he rang the bell to announce to his servant that the visitor
might be shown in.

There was a sound outside the door that separated the business
office from the main shop, and Tom heard Koku exclaim:

"Hold on! Wait! I go first. You wait!"

"What's the matter with me going ahead?" demanded a quick,
snappy voice. "I'm in a hurry, and--"

"You wait! I go first," was the giant's reply, and then came
the sound of a scuffle.

"Ouch! Say! Hold on there, my man! Take your hand off my
shoulder! You're crushing me with those big fingers of yours!"

This was evidently the visitor remonstrating with the giant.

"Humph! I guess Koku must have grabbed him," said Tom softly.
"I don't like that sort of a visitor. What's his hurry getting in
here?" and our hero looked about, to see if he had a weapon at
hand in case of an attack. Often cranks had forced their way into
his shop, with pet inventions which they wanted him to perfect
after they had themselves failed. Tom saw a heavy iron bar at
hand, and knew this would serve to protect him.

"You come after me!" exclaimed Koku, when the voice of the
other had ceased. "Do you stand under me?"

"Oh, yes, I understand all right. I'll keep back. But I didn't
mean anything. I'm just in a hurry to see Tom Swift, that is all.
I'm always in a hurry in fact. I've lost nearly a thousand
dollars this morning, just by this delay. I want to see Mr. Swift
at once; and have a talk with him."

"Another crank, I guess," mused Tom. "Well, I'm not going to
waste much time on him."

A moment later the door opened, and into the shop stepped Koku,
followed by a short, stout, fussy little man, wearing a flaming
red tie, but otherwise his clothes were not remarkable.

"Is this Mr. Tom Swift?" asked the stranger, as he advanced and
held out his hand to the young man.

"Yes," answered Tom, looking carefully at the visitor. He did
not seem to be dangerous, he had no weapon, and, Tom was relieved
to note that he did not carry some absurd machine, or appliance,
that he had made, hoping to get help in completing it. The youth
was trying to remember if he had ever seen the stranger before,
but came to the conclusion that he had not.

"Sorry to take up your time," went on the man, "but I just had
to see you. No one else will do. I've heard lots about you. That
was a great stunt you pulled off, getting those giants for the
circus. This is one; isn't he?" and he nodded toward Koku.

"Yes," replied Tom, wondering if the little man was in such a
hurry why he did not get down to business.

"I thought so," the caller went on, as he shook hands with Tom.
"Once you felt his grip you'd know he was a giant, even if you
didn't see him. Yes, that was a great stunt. And going to the
caves of ice, too, and that diamond-making affair. All of 'em
great. I--"

"How did you know about them?" interrupted Tom, wishing the man
would tell his errand.

"Oh, you're better known than you have any idea of, Tom Swift.
As soon as I got this idea of mine I said right away, to some of
the others in my business, I says, says I, 'Tom Swift is the boy
for us. I'll get him to undertake this work, and then it will be
done to the Queen's taste. Tom's the boy who can do it,' I says,
and they all agreed with me. So I came here to-day, and I'm sorry
I had to wait to see you, for I'm the busiest man in the world, I
believe, and, as I said, I've lost about a thousand dollars
waiting to have a talk with you. I--"

"I am sorry," interrupted Tom, and he was not very cordial.
"But I was busy, and--"

"All right! All right! Don't apologize!" broke in the man in
rapid tones, while both Tom, and his servant, Koku, looked in
surprise at the quick flow of language that came from him. "Don't
apologize for the world. It's my fault for bothering you. And
I'll lose several thousand dollars, willingly, if you'll
undertake this job. I'll make money from it as it is. It's worth
ten thousand dollars to you, I should say, and I'm willing to pay

He looked about, as though for a seat, and Tom, apologizing for
his neglect in offering one, shoved a box forward.

"We don't have chairs in here," said the young inventor with a
smile. "Now if you will tell me what you--"

"I'm coming right to it. I'll get down to business in a
moment," interrupted the man as he sat down on the box, not
without a grunt or two, I for he was very stout. "I'm going to
introduce myself in just a second, and then I'm going to tell you
who I am. And I hope you'll take up my offer, though it may seem
a strange one."

The man took out a pocketbook, and began searching through it,
evidently for some card or paper.

"He's as odd as Mr. Damon is, when he's blessing everything,"
mused Tom, as he watched the man.

"I thought I had a card with me, but I haven't," the visitor
went on. "No matter. I'm James Period--promoter of all kinds of
amusement enterprises, from a merry-go-'round to a theatrical
performance. I want you to--"

"No more going after giants," interrupted. Tom. "It's too
dangerous, and I haven't time--"

"No, it has nothing to do with giants," spoke Mr. Period, as he
glanced up at Koku, who towered over him as he sat on the box
near Tom.

"Well?" returned Tom.

"This is something entirely new. It has never been done before,
though if you should happen to be able to get a picture of giants
don't miss the opportunity."

"Get a picture?" exclaimed Tom, wondering if, after all, his
visitor might not be a little insane.

"Pictures, yes. Listen. I'm James Period. Jim, if you like it
better, or just plain 'Spotty.' That's what most of my friends
call me. Get the idea? A period is a spot. I'm a Period, therefor
I'm a spot. But that isn't the real reason. It's because I'm
always Johnny on the Spot when anything is happening. If it's a
big boxing exhibition, I'm there. If it's a coronation, I'm
there, or some of my men are. If it's a Durbar in India, you'll
find Spotty on the spot. That's me. If there's going to be a
building blown up with dynamite--I'm on hand; or some of my men.
If there's a fire I get there as soon as the engines do--if it's
a big one. Always on the spot--that's me--James Period--Spotty
for short. Do you get me?" and he drew a long breath and looked
at Tom, his head on one side.

"I understand that you are--"

"In the moving picture business," interrupted Mr. Period, who
never seemed to let Tom finish a sentence. "I'm the biggest
moving picture man in the world--not in size, but in business. I
make all the best films. You've seen some of 'em I guess. Every
one of 'em has my picture on the end of the film. Shows up great.
Advertising scheme--get me?"

"Yes," replied Tom, as he recalled that he had seen some of the
films in question, and good ones they were too. "I see your
point, but--"

"You want to know why I come to you; don't you?" again
interrupted "Spotty," with a laugh. "Well, I'll tell you. I need
you in my business. I want you to invent a new kind of moving
picture camera. A small light one--worked by electricity--a
regular wizard camera. I want you to take it up in an airship
with you, and then go to all sorts of wild and strange countries,
Africa, India--the jungles--get pictures of wild animals at peace
and fighting--herds of elephants--get scenes of native wars--
earthquakes--eruptions of volcanoes--all the newest and most
wonderful pictures you can. You'll have to make a new kind of
camera to do it. The kind we use won't do the trick.

"Now do you get me? I'm going to give you ten thousand dollars,
above all your expenses, for some films such as I've been
speaking of. I want novelty. Got to have it in my business! You
can do it. Now will you?"

"I hardly think--" began Tom.

"Don't answer me now," broke in Mr. Period. "Take four minutes
to think it over. Or even five. I guess I can wait that long.
Take five minutes. I'll wait while you make up your mind, but I
know you'll do it. Five minutes--no more,' and hastily getting up
off the box Mr. Period began impatiently pacing up and down the


Tom Swift looked somewhat in surprise at his strange visitor.
It had all happened so suddenly, the offer had been such a
strange one, the man himself--Mr. Period--was so odd, that our
hero hardly knew what to think. The moving picture agent
continued pacing up and down the room now and then looking at his
watch as if to note when the five minutes had passed.

"No," said Tom to himself. "I'm not going to take this offer.
There's too much work and risk attached to it. I want to stay at
home and work on my noiseless motor for the airship. After that--
well--I don't know what I'll do. I'll tell Mr. Period that he
needn't wait the five minutes. My mind is made up now!"

But as Tom was about to make this announcement, and dismiss his
caller, he looked again at the visitor. There was something
attractive about him--about his hasty way of talking, about his
manner of interrupting, about the way he proposed matters. Tom
was interested in spite of himself.

"Well," he reflected, "I may as well wait until the five
minutes are up, anyhow."

Koku, the giant servant, glanced at his young master, as if to
ask if there was anything that he could do. Tom shook his head,
and then the big man strolled over to the other side of the
machine shop, at the same time keeping a careful eye on Mr.

While Tom is waiting for the time to expire, I will take a few
minutes to tell you something more about him. Those of my friends
who have read the previous books in this series need no
introduction to my hero, but those who may chance upon this as
their first book in the Tom Swift series, will like to be more
formally introduced.

Tom, whose mother had been dead some years, lived with his
father, Barton Swift, in the town of Shopton. Mr. Swift was an
inventor of prominence, and his son was fast following in his
footsteps. A Mrs. Baggert kept house for the Swifts, and another
member of the household was Eradicate Sampson, an aged colored
man, who said he used to "eradicate" the dirt. He had been with
Tom on many trips, but of late was getting old and feeble. Then
there was Garret Jackson, an engineer employed by the Swifts.
These were all the immediate members of the household.

Tom had a chum, Ned Newton, who used to work in a bank, and
there was a girl, Mary Nestor, a daughter of Amos Nestor, in
which young lady Tom was much interested.

Eradicate Sampson had a mule, Boomerang, of whom he thought
almost as much as he did of Tom. Eradicate was a faithful friend
and servant, but, of late, Koku, or August, the giant, had rather
supplanted him. I must not forget Mr. Wakefield Damon, of
Waterfield, a village near Shopton. Mr. Damon was an odd man,
always blessing everything. He and Tom were good friends, and had
been on many trips together.

The first book of the series was called "Tom Swift and His
Motor-Cycle," and related how Tom bought the cycle from Mr.
Damon, after the latter had met with an accident on it, and it
was in this way that our hero became acquainted with the odd man.

Tom had many adventures on his motor-cycle, and, later on he
secured a motor-boat, in which he beat his enemy, Andy Foger, in
a race. Next Tom built an airship, and in this he went on a
wonderful trip. Returning from this he and his father heard about
a treasure sunken under the ocean. In his submarine boat Tom
secured the valuables, and made a large sum for himself.

In his electric runabout, which was the swiftest car on the
road, Tom was able to save from ruin a bank in which his father
was interested, and, a short time after that, he went on a trip
in an airship, with a man who had invented a new kind. The
airship was smashed, and fell to Earthquake Island, where there
were some refugees from a shipwreck, among them being the parents
of Mary Nestor. In the volume called "Tom Swift and His Wireless
Message," I told how he saved these people.

When Tom went among the diamond makers he had more strange
adventures, on that trip discovering the secret of phantom
mountain. He had bad luck when he went to the caves of ice, for
there his airship was wrecked.

When Tom made the trip in his sky racer he broke all records
for an aerial flight, incidentally saving his father's life. It
was some time after this when he invented an electric rifle, and
went to elephant land, to rescue some missionaries from the red

The eleventh volume of the series is called "Tom Swift in the
Land of Gold," and relates his adventures underground, while the
next one tells of a new machine he invented--an air-glider--
which he used to save the exiles of Siberia, incidentally, on
that trip, finding a valuable deposit of platinum.

As I have said, it was on his trip to giant land that Tom got
his big servant. This book, the thirteenth of the series, is
called "Tom Swift in Captivity," for the giants captured him and
his friends, and it was only by means of their airship that they
made their daring escape.

Tom had been back from the strange land some time now. One
giant he had turned over to the circus representative for whom he
had undertaken the mission, and the other he retained to work
around his shop, as Eradicate was getting too old. It was now
winter, and there had been quite a fall of snow the day before
Mr. Period, the odd moving picture man, called on Tom. There were
many big drifts outside the building.

Tom had fitted up a well-equipped shop, where he and his father
worked on their inventions. Occasionally Ned Newton, or Mr.
Damon, would come over to help them, but of late Tom had been so
busy on his noiseless motor that he had not had time to even see
his friends.

"'Well, I guess the five minutes have passed, and my mind is
made up," thought Tom, as he looked at his watch. "I might as
well tell Mr. Period that I can't undertake his commission. In
the first place it isn't going to be an easy matter to make an
electric moving picture camera. I'd have to spend a lot of time
studying up the subject, and then I might not be able to get it
to work right.

"And, again, I can't spare the time to go to all sorts of wild
and impossible places to get the pictures. It's all well enough
to talk about getting moving pictures of natives in battle, or
wild beasts fighting, or volcanoes in action, but it isn't so
easy to do it. Then, too, I'd have to make some changes in my
airship if I went on that trip. No, I can't go. I'll tell him
he'll have to find some one else."

Mr. Period pulled out his watch, opened it quickly, snapped it
shut again, and exclaimed:

"Well, how about it, Tom Swift? When can you start! The sooner
the better for me! You'll want some money for expenses I think. I
brought my check book along, also a fountain pen. I'll give you a
thousand dollars now, for I know making an electric moving
picture camera isn't going to be cheap work. Then, when you get
ready to start off in your airship, you'll need more money. I'll
be Johnny-on-the-spot all right, and have it ready for you. Now
when do you think you can start?"

He sat down at a bench, and began filling out a check.

"Hold on!" cried Tom, amused in spite of himself. "Don't sign
that check, Mr. Period. I'm not going."

"Not going?" The man's face showed blank amazement.

"No," went on Tom. "I can't spare the time. I'm sorry, but
you'll have to get some one else."

"Some one else? But who can I get?"

"Why, there are plenty who would be glad of the chance."

"But they can't invent an electric moving picture camera, and,
if they could, they wouldn't know enough to take pictures with
it. It's got to be you or no one, Tom Swift. Look here, I'll make
it fifteen thousand dollars above expenses."

"No, I'm sorry, but I can't go. My work here keeps me too busy.

"Oh, pshaw! Now, look here, Tom Swift! Do you know who sent me
to see you?"

"It was Mr. Nestor, who has a daughter named Mary, I believe.
Mr. Nestor is one of the directors in our company, and one day,
when he told me about you sending a wireless message from
Earthquake Island, I knew you would be the very man for me. So
now you see you'll be doing Mr. Nestor a favor, as well as me, if
you go on this trip."

Tom was somewhat surprised, yet he realized that Mr. Period was
speaking the truth. Mr. Nestor was identified with many new
enterprises. Yet the youth was firm.

"I really can't go," said our hero. "I'd like to, but I can't.
I'd like to oblige Mr. Nestor, for--well, for more reasons than
one," and Tom blushed slightly. "But it is out of the question. I
really can't go."

"But you must!" insisted the camera man. "I won't take 'no' for
an answer. You've got to go, Tom Swift, do you hear that? You've
go to go?"

Mr. Period was apparently very much excited. He strode over to
Tom and smote his hands together to emphasize what he said. Then
he shook his finger at Tom, to impress the importance of the
matter on our hero.

"You've just got to go!" he cried. "You're the only one who can
help me, Tom. Do go! I'll pay you well, and--oh, well, I know you
don't need the money, exactly, but--say, you've got to go!"

In his earnestness Mr. Period laid his hand on Tom's arm. The
next instant something happened.

With a few big strides Koku was beside the picture man. With
great quickness he grasped Mr. Period by the coat collar, lifted
him off his feet with one hand, and walked over to a window with
him, easily lifting him above the floor.

With one fling the giant tossed the short, stout gentleman out
into a snow bank, while Tom looked on, too surprised to do
anything, even if he had had the chance.

"There. You touch Tom Swift again, and I sit on you and keep
you under snow!" cried the giant, while Mr. Period kicked and
squirmed about in the drift, as Tom made a leap forward to help
him out.


"Great Scott!" yelled the picture man. "What in the world
happened to me? Did I get kicked by that mule Boomerang of
Eradicate's, that I've heard so much about? Or was it an
earthquake, such as I want to get a picture of? What happened?"

He was still floundering about in the deep bank of snow that
was just outside the window. Fortunately the sash had been up,
and Koku had tossed Mr. Period through the open window.
Otherwise, had there been glass, the well-meaning, but
unreasoning giant would probably have thrown his victim through
that, and he might have been badly cut. Tom had the window open
for fresh air, as it was rather close in the shop.

"Why, Koku!" exclaimed the young inventor, as he leaned out of
the window, and extended his hand to the moving picture man to
help him out of the drift. "What do von mean by that?" Have you
gone crazy?"

"No, but no one shall lay hands on my master!" declared the
giant half savagely. "I have vowed to always protect you from
danger, in return for what you did for me. I saw this man lay his
hand on you. In another moment he might have killed you, had not
Koku been here. There is no danger when I am by," and he
stretched out his huge arms, and looked ferocious. "I have turned
over that man, your enemy!" he added.

"Yes, you overturned me all right," admitted Mr. Period, as he
got to his feet, and crawled in through the window to the shop
again. "I went head over heels. I'm glad it was clean snow, and
not a mud bank, Tom. What in the world is the matter with him?"

"I guess he thought you were going to harm me, said Tom in a
low voice, as the picture man came in the shop. "Koku is very
devoted to me, and sometimes he makes trouble," the youth went
on. "But he means it all for the best. I am very sorry for what
happened," and Tom aided Mr. Period in brushing the snow off his
garments. "Koku, you must beg the pardon of this gentleman," Tom

"What for?" the giant wanted to know.

"For throwing him into the snow. It is not allowed to do such
things in this country, even though it is in Giant Land. Beg his

"I shall not," said the giant calmly, for Tom had taught him to
speak fairly good English, though sometimes he got his words

"The man was about to kill you, and I stopped him--I will stop
him once more, though if he does not like the snow, I can throw
him somewhere else."

"No! No! You must not do it!" cried Tom. "He meant no harm. He
is my friend."

"I am glad to hear you say that," exclaimed the picture man. "I
have hopes that you will do what I want."

"He your friend?" asked Koku wonderingly. "Certainly; and you
must beg his pardon for what you did," insisted Tom.

"Very well. I am glad you did not hurt yourself," said the
giant, and with that "apology" he stalked out of the room, his
feelings evidently very much disturbed.

"Ha! Ha!" laughed Mr. Period. "I guess he can't see any one but
you, Tom. But never mind. I know he didn't mean anything, and, as
I'm none the worse I'll forgive him. My necktie isn't spotted; is

"No, the snow didn't seem to do that any harm," replied the
young inventor, as he looked at the brilliant piece of red silk
around Mr. Period's collar.

"I am very particular about my neckties," went on the picture
man. "I always wear one color. My friends never forget me then."

Tom wondered how they could ever forget him, even though he
wore no tie, for his figure and face were such as to not easily
be forgotten.

"I'm glad it's not soiled," went on "Spotty" as he liked to be
called. "Now, Tom, you said you were my friend. Prove it by
accepting my offer. Build that wizard camera, and get me some
moving pictures that will be a sensation. Say you will!"

He looked appealingly at Tom, and, remembering the rather rude
and unexpected treatment to which Koku had submitted the
gentleman, Tom felt his mind changing. Still he was not yet ready
to give in. He rather liked the idea the more he thought of it,
but he felt that he had other duties, and much to occupy him at
home, especially if he perfected his silent motor.

"Will you go?" asked Mr. Period, picking up his fountain pen
and check book, that he had laid aside when he walked over to
Tom, just before the giant grasped him. "Say you will."

The young inventor was silent a moment. He thought over the
many adventures he had gone through--in the caves of ice, in the
city of gold, escaping from the giants, and the red pygmies--He
went over the details of his trips through the air, of the
dangers under the seas, of those he had escaped from on
Earthquake Island. Surely e was entitled to a little rest at

And yet there was a lure to it all. A certain fascination that
was hard to resist. Mr. Period must have seen what was going on
in Tom's mind, for he said:

"I know you're going. I can see it. Why, it will be just the
very thing you need. You'll get more fame out of this thing than
from any of your other inventions. Come, say you'll do it.

"I'll tell you what I'll do !" he went on eagerly. "After you
make the camera, and take a lot of films, showing strange and
wonderful scenes, I'll put at the end of each film, next to my
picture, your name, and a statement showing that you took the
originals. How's that? Talk about being advertised! Why you can't
beat it! Millions of people will read your name at the picture
shows every night."

"I am not looking for advertisements," said Tom, with a laugh.

"Well, then, think of the benefit you will be to science," went
on Mr. Period quickly. "Think of the few people who have seen
wild animals as they are, of those who have ever seen an earth-
quake, or a volcano in action. You can go to Japan, and get
pictures of earthquakes. They have them on tap there. And as for
volcanoes, why the Andes mountains are full of 'em. Think of how
many people will be thankful to you for showing them these
wonderful scenes."

"And think of what might happen if I should take a tumble into
a crack in the earth, or down a hot volcano, or fall into a
jungle when there was a fight on among the elephants," suggested
Tom. "My airship might take a notion to go down when I was doing
the photographing," he added.

"No. Nothing like that will happen to Tom Swift," was the
confident answer of the picture man. "I've read of your doings.
You don't have accidents that you can't get the better of. But
come, I know you're thinking of it, and I'm sure you'll go. Let
me make you out this check, sign a contract which I have all
ready, and then get to work on the camera."

Tom was silent a moment. Then he said:

"Well, I admit that there is something attractive about it. I
hoped I was going to stay home. for a long time. But--"

"Then you'll go!" cried Mr. Period eagerly. "Here's the money,"
and he quickly filled out a check for Tom's first expenses,
holding the slip of paper toward the young inventor.

"Wait a minute! Hold on!" cried Tom. "Not so fast if you
please. I haven't yet made up my mind."

"But you will; won't you?" asked Mr. Period.

"Well, I'll make up my mind, one way or the other," replied the
young man. "I won't say I'll go, but--"

"I'll tell you what I'll do!" interrupted Mr. Period. "I'm a
busy man, and every second is worth money to me. But I'll wait
for you to make up your mind. I'll give you until to-morrow
night. How's that? Fair, isn't it?"

"Yes--I think so. I am afraid--"

"I'm not!" broke in the picture man. "I know you'll decide to
go. Think of the fun and excitement you'll have. Now I've taken
up a lot of your time, and I'm going to leave you alone. I'll be
back tomorrow evening for my answer. But I know you're going to
get those moving pictures for me. Is that giant of yours
anywhere about?" he asked, as he looked cautiously around before
leaving the shop. "I don't want to fall into his hands again."

"I don't blame you," agreed Tom. "I never knew him to act that
way before. But I'll go to the gate with you, and Koku will
behave him self. I am sorry--"

"Don't mention it !" broke in the picture man. "It was worth
all I suffered, if you go, and I know you will. Don't trouble
yourself to come out. I can find my way, and if your giant comes
after me, I'll call for help."

He hurried out before Tom could follow, and, hearing the gate
click a little later, and no call for help coming, our hero
concluded that his visitor had gotten safely away.

"Well, what am I going to do about it?" mused Tom, as he
resumed work on his silent motor. He had not been long engaged in
readjusting some of the valves, when he was again interrupted.

This time it was his chum, Ned Newton, who entered, and, as Ned
was well known to the giant, nothing happened.

"Well, what's up, Tom?" asked Ned.

"Why, did you notice anything unusual?" asked Tom.

"I saw Koku standing at the gate a while ago, looking down the
road at a short stout man, with a red tie. Your giant seemed
rather excited about something."

"Oh, yes. I'll tell you about it," and Tom related the details
of Mr. Period's visit.

"Are you going to take his offer?" asked Ned.

"I've got until tomorrow to make up my mind. What would you do,

"Why, I'd take it in a minute, if I knew how to make an
electric camera. I suppose it has to be a very speedy one, to
take the kind of pictures he wants. Wait, hold on, I've just
thought of a joke. It must be a swift camera--catch on--you're
Swift, and you make a swift camera; see the point?"

"I do," confessed Tom, with a laugh. "Well, Ned, I've been
thinking it over, but I can't decide right away. I will tomorrow
night, though."

"Then I'm coming over, and hear what it is. If you decide to
go, maybe you'll take me along."

"I certainly will, and Mr. Damon, too."

"How about the giant?"

"Well, I guess there'll be room for him. But I haven't decided
yet. Hand me that wrench over there; will you," and then Tom and
Ned began talking about the new apparatus on which the young
inventor was working.

True to his promise Mr. Period called the next evening. He
found Tom, Ned and Mr. Swift in the library, talking over various

"Well, Tom, have you made up your mind?" asked the caller, when
Mrs. Baggert, the housekeeper, had shown him into the room. "I
hope you have, and I hope it is favorable to me."

"Yes," said Tom slowly, "I've thought it all over, and I have
decided that I will--"

At that moment there was a loud shouting outside the house, and
the sound of some one running rapidly through the garden that was
just outside the low library window--a garden now buried deep
under snow.

"What's that?" cried Ned, jumping to his feet.

"That was Koku's voice," replied Tom, "and I guess he was
chasing after some one."

"They'll need help if that giant gets hold of them," spoke Mr.
Period solemnly, while the noise outside increased in volume.


"Here, Tom! Come back! Where are you going?" cried aged Mr.
Swift, as his son started toward the window.

"I'm going to see what's up, and who it is that Koku is
chasing," replied the young inventor.

As he spoke he opened the window, which went all the way down
to the floor. He stepped out on a small balcony, put his hand on
the railing, and was about to leap over. Back of him was his
father, Mr. Period and Ned.

"Come back! You may get hurt!" urged Mr. Swift. He had aged
rapidly in the last few months, and had been obliged to give up
most of his inventive work. Naturally, he was very nervous about
his son.

"Don't worry, dad; replied the youth. "I'm not in much danger
when Koku is around."

"That's right, agreed the moving picture man. "I'd sooner have
that giant look after me than half a dozen policemen."

The noise had now grown fainter, but the sound of the pursuit
could still be heard. Koku was shouting in his hearty tones, and
there was the noise of breaking twigs as the chase wound in and
out of the garden shrubbery.

Tom paused a moment, to let his eyes get somewhat used to the
darkness. There was a crescent moon, that gave a little light,
and the snow on the ground made it possible to notice objects
fairly well.

"See anything?" asked Ned, as he joined his chum on the

"No, but I'm going to have a closer look. Here goes!" and Tom
leaped to the ground.

"I'm with you," added Ned, as he followed.

Then came another voice, shouting:

"Dat's de way! Catch him! I'se comm', I is! Ef we gits him
we'll tie him up, an' let Boomerang walk on him!"

"Here comes Eradicate," announced Tom, with a look back toward
his chum, and a moment later the aged colored man, who had
evidently started on the chase with Koku, but who had been left
far behind, swung totteringly around the corner of the house.

"Did ye cotch him, Massa Tom?" asked Eradicate. "Did ye cotch
de raskil?"

"Not yet, Rad. But Koku is after him. Who was he, and what did
he do?"

"Didn't do nuffin yit, Massa Tom, 'case as how he didn't git no
chance," replied the colored man, as he hurried along as rapidly
as he could beside the two youths. "Koku and I was too quick for
him. Koku an' me was a-sittin' in my shack, sort of talkin'
togedder, when we hears a racket neah de chicken house. I'se
mighty partial t' de chickens, an' I didn't want nobody t' 'sturb
'em. Koku was jes' de same, an' when we hears dat noise, up we
jumps, an' gits t' chasm.' He runned dis way, an' us was arter
him, but land lub yo', ole Eradicate ain't so spry as he uster be
an' Koku an' de chicken thief got ahead ob me. Leastwise he ain't
no chicken thief yit, 'case as how he didn't git in de coop, but
he meant t' be one, jes' de same."

"Are you sure he was after the chickens?" asked Tom, with quick
suspicion in his mind, for, several times of late, unscrupulous
persons had tried to enter his shop, to get knowledge of his
valuable inventions before they were patented.

"Course he were arter de chickens," replied Eradicate. "But he
didn't git none."

"Come on, Ned!" cried Tom, breaking into a run. "I want to
catch whoever this was. Did you see him, Rad?"

"Only jes' had a glimpse ob his back."

"Well, you go back to the house and tell father and Mr. Period
about it. Ned and I will go on with Koku. I hope to get the

"Why, Tom?" asked his chum.

"Because I think he was after bigger game than chickens. My
noiseless motor, for the new airship, is nearly complete, and it
may have been some one trying to get that. I received an offer
from a concern the other day, who wished to purchase it, and,
when I refused to sell, they seemed rather put out."

The two lads raced on, while Eradicate tottered back to the
house, where he found Mr. Swift and the picture man awaiting him.

"I guess he got away," remarked Ned, after he and his chum had
covered nearly the length of the big garden.

"I'm afraid so," agreed Tom. "I can't hear Koku any more.
Still, I'm not going to give up."

Pantingly they ran on, and, a little later, they met the big
man coming back.

"Did he get away?" asked Tom.

"Yes, Mr. Tom, he scaped me all right."

"Escaped you mean, Koku. Well, never mind. You did your best."

"I would like to have hold of him," spoke the giant, as he
stretched out his big arms.

"Did you know who he was?" inquired Ned.

"No, I couldn't see his face," and he gave the same description
of the affair as had Eradicate.

"Was it a full grown man, or some one about my size?" Tom
wanted to know.

"A man," replied the giant.

"Why do you ask that?" inquired Ned, as the big fellow went on
to resume his talk with Eradicate, and the two chums turned to go
into the house, after the fruitless chase.

"Because, I thought it might be Andy Foger," was Tom's reply.
"It would be just like him, but if it was a man, it couldn't be
him. Andy's rather short."

"Besides, he doesn't live here any more," said Ned.

"I know, but I heard Sam Snedecker, who used to be pretty thick
with him, saying the other day that he expected a visit from
Andy. I hope he doesn't come back to Shopton, even for a day, for
he always tries to make trouble for me. Well, let's go in, and
tell 'em all about our chase after a chicken thief."

"And so he got away?" remarked Mr. Swift, when Tom had
completed his story.

"Yes," answered the young inventor, as he closed, and locked,
the low library window, for there was a chilly breeze blowing. "I
think I will have to rig up the burglar alarm on my shop again. I
don't want to take any chances."

"Do you remember what we were talking about, when that
interruption came?" asked Mr. Period, after a pause. "You were
saying, Tom, that you had made up your mind, and that was as far
as you got. What is your answer to my offer?"

"Well," spoke the lad slowly, and with a smile, "I think I

"Now don't say 'no'"; interrupted the picture man. "If you are
going to say 'no' take five minutes more, or even ten, and think
it over carefully. I want you--"

"I wasn't going to say 'no,'" replied Tom. "I have decided to
accept your offer, and I'll get right at work on the electrical
camera, and see what I can do in the way of getting moving
pictures for you."

"You will? Say, that's great! That's fine! I knew you would
accept, but I was the least bit afraid you might not, without
more urging."

"Of course," began Tom, "it will take--"

"Not another word. Just wait a minute," interrupted Mr. Period
in his breezy fashion. "Take this."

He quickly filled out a check and handed it to Tom.

"Now sign this contract, which merely says that you will do
your best to get pictures for me, and that you won't do it for
any other concern, and everything will be all right. Sign there,"
he added, pointing to a dotted line, and thrusting a fountain pen
into Tom's hand. The lad read over the agreement, which was fair
enough, and signed it, and Ned affixed his name as a witness.

"Now when can you go?" asked Mr. Period eagerly.

"Not before Spring, I'm afraid," replied Torn. "I have first to
make the camera, and then my airship needs overhauling if I am to
go on such long trips as will be necessary in case I am to get
views of wild beasts in the jungle."

"Well, make it as soon as you can," begged Mr. Period. "I can
have the films early next Fall then, and they will be in season
for the Winter runs at the theatres. Now, I'm the busiest man in
the world, and I believe I have lost five hundred dollars by
coming here to-night. Still, I don't regret it. I'm going back
now, and I'll expect to hear from you when you are ready to
start. There's my address. Good-bye," and thrusting a card into
Tom's hand he hurried out of the room.

"Won't you stop all night?" called Mr. Swift after him.

"Sorry. I'd like to but can't. Got a big contract I must close
in New York to-morrow morning. I've ordered a special train to be
at the Shopton station in half an hour, and I must catch that.
Good night!" and Mr. Period hurried away.

"Say, he's a hustler all right!" exclaimed Ned.

"Yes, and I've got to hustle if I invent that camera," added
Tom. "It's got to be a specially fast one, and one that can take
pictures from a long distance. Electricity is the thing to use, I

"Then you are really going off on this trip. Tom?" asked his
father, rather wistfully.

"I'm afraid I am," replied his son. "I thought I could stay at
home for a while, but it seems not."

"I was in hopes you could give me a little time to help me on
my gyroscope invention," went on the aged man. "But I suppose it
will keep until you come back. It is nearly finished."

"Yes, and I don't like stopping work on my noiseless motor,"
spoke Tom. "But that will have to wait, too."

"Do you know where you are going?" inquired Ned.

"Well, I'll have to do considerable traveling I suppose to get
all the films he wants. But once I'm started I'll like it I
guess. Of course you're coming, Ned."

"I hope so."

"Of course you are!" insisted Tom, as if that settled it. "And
I'm sure Mr. Damon will go also. I haven't seen him in some time.
I hope he isn't ill."

Tom started work on his Wizard Camera, as he called it, the
next day--that is he began drawing the designs, and planning how
to construct it. Ned helped him, and Koku was on hand in case he
was needed, but there was little he could do, as yet. Tom made an
inspection of his shop the morning after the chicken thief scare,
but nothing seemed to have been disturbed.

A week passed, and Tom had all the plans drawn for the camera.
He had made several experiments with different forms of
electricity for operating the mechanism, and had decided on a
small, but very powerful, storage battery to move the film, and
take the pictures.

This storage battery, which would be inside the camera, would
operate it automatically. That is, the camera could be set up any
place, in the jungle, or on the desert, it could be left alone,
and would take pictures without any one being near it. Tom
planned to have it operate at a certain set time, and stop at a
certain time, and he could set the dials to make this time any
moment of the day or night. For there was to be a powerful light
in connection with the camera, in order that night views might be
taken. Besides being automatic the camera could be worked by

When it was not necessary to have the camera operate by the
storage battery, it could be connected to wires and worked by an
ordinary set of batteries, or by a dynamo. This was for use on
the airship, where there was a big electrical machine. I shall
tell you more about the camera as the story proceeds.

One afternoon Tom was alone in the shop, for he had sent Koku
on an errand, and Eradicate was off in a distant part of the
grounds, doing some whitewashing, which was his specialty. Ned
had not come over, and Mr. Swift, having gone to see some
friends, and Mrs. Baggert being at the store, Tom, at this
particular time, was rather isolated.

He was conducting some delicate electrical experiments, and to
keep the measuring instruments steady he had closed all the
windows and doors of his shop. The young inventor was working at
a bench in one corner, and near him, standing upright, was a
heavy shaft of iron, part of his submarine, wrapped in burlap,
and padded, to keep it from rusting.

"Now," said Tom to himself, as he mixed two kinds of acid in a
jar, to produce a new sort of electrical current, "I will see if
this is any better than the first way in which I did it."

He was careful about pouring out the powerful stuff, but, in
spite of this, he spilled a drop on his finger. It burned like
fire, and, instinctively, he jerked his hand back.

The next instant there was a series of happenings. Tom's elbow
came in contact with another jar of acid, knocking it over, and
spilling it into the retort where he had been mixing the first
two liquids. There was a hissing sound, as the acids combined,
and a thick, white vapor arose, puffing into Tom's face, and
making him gasp.

He staggered back, brushed against the heavy iron shaft in the
corner, and it fell sideways against him, knocking him to the
floor, and dropping across his thighs. The padding on it saved
him from broken bones, but the shaft was so heavy, that after it
was on him, Tom could not move. He was held fast on the floor of
his shop, unable to use his legs, and prevented from getting up.

For a moment Tom was stunned, and then he called:

"Help! Help! Eradicate! Koku! Help!"

He waited a moment, but there was only a silence.

And then Tom smelled a strange odor--an odor of a choking gas
that seemed to smother him.

"It's the acids!" he cried. "They're generating gas! And I'm
held fast here! The place is closed up tight, and I can't move!
Help! Help!"

But there was no one at hand to aid Tom, and every moment the
fumes of the gas became stronger. Desperately the youth struggled
to rid himself of the weight of the shaft, but he could not. And
then he felt his senses leaving him, for the powerful gas was
making him unconscious.


"Bless my shoe buttons!" exclaimed a voice, as a man came
toward Tom's shop, a little later. "Bless my very necktie! This
is odd. I go to the house, and find no one there. I come out
here, and not a soul is about. Tom Swift can't have gone off on
another one of his wonderful trips, without sending me word. I
know he wouldn't do that. And yet, bless my watch and chain, I
can't find any one!"

It was Mr. Damon who spoke, as my old readers have already
guessed. He peered into one of the shop windows, and saw
something like a fog filling the place.

"That's strange," he went on. "I don't see Tom there, and yet
it looks as if an experiment was going on. I wonder--"

Mr. Damon heard some one coming up behind him, and turned to
see Koku the giant, who was returning . from the errand on which
Tom had sent him.

"Oh, Koku, it's you; is it?" the odd man asked. "Bless my cuff
buttons! Where is Tom?"

"In shop I guess."

"I don't see him. Still I had better look. There doesn't seem
to be any one about."

Mr. Damon opened the shop door, and was met by such an outward
rush of choking gas that he staggered back.

"Bless my--" he began but he had to stop, to cough and gasp.
"There must have been some sort of an accident," he cried, as he
got his lungs full of fresh air. "A bad accident! Tom could never
work in that atmosphere. Whew!"

"Accident! What is matter?" cried Koku stepping to the doorway.
He, too choked and gasped, but his was such a strong and rugged
nature, and his lungs held such a supply of air, that it took
more than mere gas to knock him out. He peered in through the
wreaths of the acid vapor, and saw the body of his master, lying
on the floor--held down by the heavy iron.

In another instant Koku had rushed in, holding his breath, for,
now that he was inside the place, the gas made even him feel

"Come back! Come back!" cried Mr. Damon. 'You'll be smothered!
Wait until the gas escapes!"

"Then Mr. Tom die!" cried the giant. "I get him--or I no come

With one heave of his powerful right arm, Koku lifted the heavy
shaft from Tom's legs. Then, gathering the lad up in his left
arm, as if he were a baby, Koku staggered out into the fresh air,
almost falling with his burden, as he neared Mr. Damon, for the
giant was, well-nigh overcome.

"Bless my soul!" cried the odd man. "Is he--is he--"

He did not finish the sentence, but, as Koku laid Tom down on
the overcoat of Mr. Damon, which the latter quickly spread on the
snow, the eccentric man put his hand over the heart of the young

"It beats!" he murmured. "He's alive, but very weak. We must
get a doctor at once. I'll do what I can. There's no time to
spare. Bless my--"

But Mr. Damon concluded that there was no time for blessing
anything, and so he stopped short.

"Carry him up to the house, Koku," he said. "I know where there
are some medicines, and I'll try to revive him while we're
waiting for the doctor Hurry!"

Tom was laid on a lounge, and, just then, Mrs. Baggert came in.

"Telephone for the doctor!" cried Mr. Damon to the housekeeper,
who kept her nerve, and did not get excited. "I'll give Tom some
ammonia, and other stimulants, and see if I can bring him around.
Koku, get me some cold water."

The telephone was soon carrying the message to the doctor, who
promised to come at once. Koku, in spite of his size, was quick,
and soon brought the water, into which Mr. Damon put some strong
medicine, that he found in a closet. Tom's eyelids fluttered as
the others forced some liquid between his lips.

"He's coming around!" cried the eccentric man. "I guess he'll
be all right, Koku."

"Koku glad," said the giant simply, for he loved Tom with a
deep devotion.

"Yes, Koku, if it hadn't been for you, though, I don't believe
that he would be alive. That was powerful gas, and a few seconds
more in there might have meant the end of Tom. I didn't see him
lying on the floor, until after you rushed in. Bless my
thermometer! It is very strange."

They gave Tom more medicine, rubbed his arms and legs, and held
ammonia under his nose. Slowly he opened his eyes, and in a faint
voice asked:


"In your own house," replied Mr. Damon, cheerfully. "How do you

"I'm--all--right--now," said Tom slowly. He, felt his strength
coming gradually back, and he remembered what had happened,
though he did not yet know how he had been saved. The doctor came
in at this moment, with a small medical battery, which completed
the restorative work begun by the others. Soon Tom could sit up,
though he was still weak and rather sick.

"Who brought me out?" he asked, when he had briefly told how
the accident occurred.

"Koku did," replied Mr. Damon. "I guess none of the rest of us
could have lifted the iron shaft from your legs."

"It's queer how that fell," said Tom, with a puzzled look on
his face. "I didn't hit it hard enough to bring it down. Beside,
I had it tied to nails, driven into the wall, to prevent just
such an accident as this. I must see about it when I get well."

"Not for a couple of days," exclaimed the doctor grimly.
"You've got to stay in bed a while yet. You had a narrow escape,
Tom Swift."

"Well, I'm glad I went to Giant Land," said the young inventor,
with a wan smile. "Otherwise I'd never have Koku," and he looked
affectionately at the big man, who laughed happily. In nature
Koku was much like a child.

Mr. Swift came home a little later, and Ned Newton called, both
being very much surprised to hear of the accident. As for
Eradicate, the poor old colored man was much affected, and would
have sat beside Tom's bed all night, had they allowed him.

Our hero recovered rapidly, once the fumes of the gas left his
system, and, two days later, he was able to go out to the shop
again. At his request everything had been left just as it was
after he had been brought out. Of course the fumes of the gas
were soon dissipated, when the door was opened, and the acids,
after mingling and giving off the vapor, had become neutralized,
so that they were now harmless.

"Now I'm going to see what made that shaft fall," said Tom to
Ned, as the two chums walked over to the bench where the young
inventor had been working. "The tap I gave it never ought to have
brought it down."

Together they examined the thin, but strong, cords that had
been passed around the shaft, having been fastened to two nails,
driven into the wall.

"Look!" cried Tom, pointing to one of the cords.

"What is it?" asked Ned.

"The strands were partly cut through, so that only a little jar
was enough to break the remaining ones," went on Tom. "They've
been cut with a knife, too, and not frayed by vibration against
the nail, as might be the case. Ned, someone has been in my shop,
meddling, and he wanted this shaft to fall. This is a trick!"

"Great Scott, Tom! You don't suppose any one wanted that shaft
to fall on you; do you?"

"No, I don't believe that. Probably some one wanted to damage
the shaft, or he might have thought it would topple over against
the bench, and break some of my tools, instruments or machinery.
I do delicate experiments here, and it wouldn't take much of a
blow to spoil them. That's why those cords were cut."

"Who did it? Do you think Andy Foger--"

"No, I think it was the man Koku thought was a chicken thief,
and whom we chased the other night. I've got to be on my guard. I
wonder if--"

Tom was interrupted by the appearance of Koku, who came out of
the shop with a letter the postman had just left.

"I don't know that writing very well, and yet it looks
familiar," said Tom, as he tore open the missive. "Hello, here's
more trouble!" he exclaimed as he hastily read it.

"What's up now?" asked Ned.

"This is from Mr. Period, the picture man," went on the young
inventor. It's a warning."

"A warning?"

"Yes. He says:

"'Dear Tom. Be on your guard. I understand that a rival moving
picture concern is after you. They want to make you an offer, and
get you away from me. But I trust you. Don't have anything to do
with these other fellows. And, at the same time, don't give them
a hint as to our plans. Don't tell them anything about your new
camera. There is a lot of jealousy and rivalry in this business
and they are all after me. They'll probably come to see you, but
be on your guard. They know that I have been negotiating with
you. Remember the alarm the other night.'"


"Well, what do you think of that?" cried Ned, as his chum

"It certainly isn't very pleasant," replied Tom. "I wonder why
those chaps can't let me alone? Why don't they invent cameras of
their own? Why are they always trying to get my secret

"I suppose they can't do things for themselves," answered Ned.
"And then, again, your machinery always works, Tom, and some that
your rivals make, doesn't."

"Well, maybe that's it," admitted our hero, as he put away the
letter. "I will be on the watch, just as I have been before. I've
got the burglar alarm wires adjusted on the shop now, and when
these rival moving picture men come after me they'll get a short

For several days nothing happened, and Tom and Ned worked hard
on the Wizard Camera. It was nearing completion, and they were
planning, soon, to give it a test, when, one afternoon, two
strangers, in a powerful automobile, came to the Swift homestead.
They inquired for Tom, and, as he was out in the shop, with Ned
and Koku, and as he often received visitors out there, Mrs.
Baggert sent out the two men, who left their car in front of the

As usual, Tom had the inner door to his shop locked, and when
Koku brought in a message that two strangers would like to see
the young inventor, Tom remarked:

"I guess it's the rival picture men, Ned. We'll see what they
have to say."

"Which of you is Tom Swift?" asked the elder of the two men, as
Tom and Ned entered the front office, for our hero knew better
than to admit the strangers to the shop.

"I am," replied Tom.

"Well, we're men of business," went on the speaker, "and there
is no use beating about the bush. I am Mr. Wilson Turbot, and
this is my partner, Mr. William Eckert. We are in the business of
making moving picture films, and I understand that you are
associated with Mr. Period in this line. 'Spotty' we call him."

"Yes, I am doing some work for Mr. Period," admitted Tom,

"Have you done any yet?"

"No, but I expect to."

"What kind of a camera are you going to use?" asked Mr. Eckert

"I must decline to answer that," replied Tom, a bit stiffly.

"Oh, that's all right," spoke Mr. Turbot, good naturedly. "Only
'Spotty' was bragging that you were making a new kind of film for
him, and we wondered if it was on the market."

"We are always looking for improvements," added Mr. Eckert.

"This camera isn't on the market," replied Tom, on his guard as
to how he answered.

The two men whispered together for a moment, and then Mr.
Turbot said:

"Well, as I remarked, we're men of business, and there's no use
beating about the bush. We've heard of you, Tom Swift, and we
know you can do things. Usually, in this world, every man has his
price, and we're willing to pay big to get what we want. I don't
know what offer Mr. Period made to you, but I'll say this: We'll
give you double what he offered, for the exclusive rights to your
camera, whenever it's on the market, and we'll pay you a handsome
salary to work for us."

"I'm sorry, but I can't consider the offer," replied Tom
firmly. "I have given my word to Mr. Period. I have a contract
with him, and I cannot break it."

"Offer him three times what Period did," said Mr. Eckert, in a
hoarse whisper that Tom heard.

"It would be useless!" exclaimed our hero. "I wouldn't go back
on my word for a hundred times the price I am to get. I am not in
this business so much for the money, as I am for the pleasure of

The men were silent a moment. There were ugly looks on their
faces. They looked sharply at Tom and Ned. Then Mr. Eckert said:

"You'll regret this, Tom Swift. We are the biggest firm of
moving picture promoters in the world. We always get what we

"You won't get my camera," replied Tom calmly.

"I don't know about that!" exclaimed Mr. Turbot, as he made a
hasty stride toward Tom, who stood in front of the door leading
to the shop--the shop where his camera, almost ready for use, was
on a bench. "I guess if we--"

"Koku!" suddenly called Tom.

The giant stepped into the front office. He had been standing
near the door, inside the main shop. Mr. Turbot who had stretched
forth his hand, as though to seize Tom, and his companion, who
had advanced toward Ned, fairly jumped back in fright at the
sight of the big man.

"Koku," went on Tom, in even tones, "just show these gentlemen
to the front door--and lock it after them," he added
significantly, as he turned back into the shop, followed by Ned.

"Yes, Mr. Tom," answered the giant, and then, with his big
hand, and brawny fist, he gently turned the two men toward the
outer door. They were gasping in surprise as they looked at the

"You'll be sorry for this, Tom Swift!" exclaimed Mr. Turbot.
"You'll regret not having taken our offer. This Period chat is
only a small dealer. We can do better by you. You'll regret--"

"You'll regret coming here again," snapped Tom, as he closed
the door of his shop, leaving Koku to escort the baffled plotters
to their auto. Shortly afterward Tom and Ned heard the car
puffing away.

"Well, they came, just as Mr. Period said they would," spoke
Tom, slowly.

"Yes, and they went away again!" exclaimed Ned with a laugh.
"They had their trip for nothing. Say, did you see how they
stared at Koku?"

"Yes, he's a helper worth having, in cases like these."

Tom wrote a full account of what had happened and sent it to
Mr. Period. He received in reply a few words, thanking him for
his loyalty, and again warning him to be on his guard.

In the meanwhile, work went on rapidly on the Wizard Camera.
Briefly described it was a small square box, with a lens
projecting from it. Inside, however, was complicated machinery,
much too complicated for me to describe. Tom Swift had put in his
best work on this wonderful machine. As I have said, it could be
worked by a storage battery, by ordinary electric current from a
dynamo, or by hand. On top was a new kind of electric light. This
was small and compact, but it threw out powerful beams. With the
automatic arrangement set, and the light turned on, the camera
could be left at a certain place after dark, and whatever went on
in front of it would be reproduced on the moving roll of film

In the morning the film could be taken out, developed, and the
pictures thrown on a screen in the usual way, familiar to all who
have been in a moving picture theatre. With the reproducing
machines Tom had nothing to do, as they were already perfected.
His task had been to make the new-style camera, and it was nearly

A number of rolls of films could be packed into the camera, and
they could be taken out, or inserted, in daylight. Of course
after one film had been made, showing any particular scene any
number of films could be made from this "master" one. Just as is
done with the ordinary moving picture camera. Tom had an
attachment to show when one roll was used, and when another
needed inserting.

For some time after the visit of the rival moving picture men,
Tom was on his guard. Both house and shop were fitted with
burglar alarms, but they did not ring. Eradicate and Koku were
told to be on watch, but there was nothing for them to do.

"Well," remarked Tom to Ned, one afternoon, when they had both
worked hard, "I think it's about finished. Of course it needs
polishing, and there may be some adjusting to do, but my camera
is now ready to take pictures--at least I'm going to give it a

"Have you the rolls of films?"

"Yes, half a dozen of 'em And I'm going to try the hardest test

"Which one is that?"

"The night test. I'm going to place the camera out in the yard,
facing my shop. Then you and I, and some of the others, will go
out, pass in front of it, do various stunts, and, in the morning
we'll develop the films and see what we have."

"Why, are you going to leave the camera out, all night?"

"Sure. I'm going to give it the hardest kind of a test."

"But are you and I going to stay up all night to do stunts in
front of it?"

"No, indeed. I'm going to let it take what ever pictures happen
to come along to be taken after we get through making some
special early ones. You see my camera will be a sort of watch
dog, only of course it won't catch any one--that is, only their
images will be caught on the film.

"Oh, I see," exclaimed Ned, and then he helped Tom fix the
machine for the test.


"Well, is she working, Tom?" asked our hero's chum, a little
later, when they had set the camera up on a box in the garden. It
pointed toward the main shop door, and from the machine came a
clicking sound. The electric light was glowing.

"Yes, it's all ready," replied Tom. "Now just act as if it
wasn't there. You walk toward the shop. Do anything you please.
Pretend you are coming in to see me on business. Act as if it was
daytime. I'll stand here and receive you. Later, I'll get dad out
here, Koku and Eradicate. I wish Mr. Period was here to see the
test, but perhaps it's just as well for me to make sure it works
before be sees it."

"All right, Tom, here I come."

Ned advanced toward the shop. He tried to act as though the
camera was not taking pictures of him, at the rate of several a
second, but he forgot himself, and turned to look at the staring
lens. Then Tom, with a laugh, advanced to meet him, shaking hands
with him. Then the lads indulged in a little skylarking. They
threw snowballs at each other, taking care, however to keep
within range of the lens. Of course when Tom worked the camera
himself, he could point it wherever he wanted to, but it was now

Then the lads went to the shop, and came out again. They did
several other things. Later Koku, and Eradicate did some
"stunts," as Tom called them. Mr. Swift, too, was snapped, but
Mrs. Baggert refused to come out.

"Well, I guess that will do for now," said Tom, as he stopped
the mechanism. "I've just thought of something," he added. "If I
leave the light burning, it will scare away, before they got in
front of the lens, any one who might come along. I'll have to
change that part of it."

"How can you fix it?" asked Ned.

"Easily. I'll rig up some flash lights, just ordinary
photographing flashlights, you know. I'll time them to go off one
after the other, and connect them with an electric wire to the
door of my shop."

"Then your idea is--" began Ned.

"That some rascals may try to enter my shop at night. Not this
particular night, but any night. If they come to-night we'll be
ready for them."

"An' can't yo'-all take a picture ob de chicken coop?" asked
Eradicate. "Dat feller may come back t' rob mah hens."

"With the lens pointing toward the shop," spoke Tom, "it will
also take snap shots of any one who tries to enter the coop. So,
if the chicken thief does come, Rad, we'll have a picture of

Tom and Ned soon had the flashlights in place, and then they
went to bed, listening, at times, for the puff that would
indicate that the camera was working. But the night passed
without incident, rather to Tom's disappointment. However, in the
morning, he developed the film of the first pictures taken in the
evening. Soon they were dry enough to be used in the moving
picture machine, which Tom had bought, and set up in a dark room.

"There we are!" he cried, as the first images were thrown on
the white screen. "As natural as life, Ned! My camera works all

"That's so. Look! There's where I hit you with a snowball!"
cried his chum, as the skylarking scene was reached.

"Mah goodness!" cried Eradicate, when he saw himself walking
about on the screen, as large as life. "Dat shorely am

"It is spirits!" cried Koku, as he saw himself depicted.

"I wish we had some of the other pictures to show," spoke Tom.
"I mean some unexpected midnight visitors."

For several nights in succession the camera was set to "snap"
any one who might try to enter the shop. The flashlights were
also in place. Tom and Ned, the latter staying at his chum's
house that week, were beginning to think they would have their
trouble for their pains. But one night something happened.

It was very dark, but the snow on the ground made a sort of
glow that relieved the blackness. The camera had been set as
usual, and Tom and Ned went to bed.

It must have been about midnight when they were both awakened
by hearing the burglar alarm go off. At the same time there were
several flashes of fire from the garden.

"There she goes!" cried Ned.

"Yes, they're trying to get into the shed," added Tom, as a
glance at the burglar-alarm indicator on the wall of the room,
showed that the shop door was being tried. "Come on!"

"I'm with you!" yelled Ned.

They lost little time getting into their clothes, for they had
laid them out in readiness for putting on quickly. Down the
stairs they raced, but ere they reached the garden they heard
footsteps running along the wall toward the road.

"Who's there?" cried Tom, but there was no answer.

"Koku! Eradicate!" yelled Ned.

"Yais, sah, I'se comm'!" answered the colored man, and the
voice of the giant was also heard. The flashlights had ceased
popping before this, and when the two lads and their helpers had
reached the shop, there was no one in sight.

"The camera's there all right!" cried Tom in relief as he
picked it up from the box. "Now to see what it caught. Did you
see anything of the fellows, Koku, or Eradicate?" Both said they
had not, but Eradicate, after examining the chicken house door by
the aid of a lighted match, cried out:

"Somebody's been tryin' t' git in heah, Massa Tom. I kin see
where de do's been scratched."

"Well, maybe we'll have the picture for you to look at in the
morning," said Tom.

The films were developed in the usual way in the morning, but
the pictures were so small that Tom could not make out the
features or forms of the men. And it was plain that at least
three men had been around the coop and shop.

By the use of alcohol and an electric fan Tom soon had the
films dry enough to use. Then the moving picture machine was set
up in a dark room, and all gathered to see what would be thrown
on the screen, greatly enlarged.

First came several brilliant flashes of light, and then, as the
entrance to the shop loomed into view, a dark figure seemed to
walk across the canvas. But it did not stop at the shop door.
Instead it went to the chicken coop, and, as the man reached that
door, he began working to get it open. Of course it had all taken
place in a few seconds, for, as soon as the flashlights went off,
the intruders had run away. But they had been there long enough
to have their pictures taken.

The man at the chicken coop turned around as the lights
flashed, and he was looking squarely at the camera. Of course
this made his face very plain to the audience, as Tom turned the
crank of the reproducing machine.

"Why, it's a colored man!" cried Ned in surprise.

"Yes, I guess it's only an ordinary chicken thief, after all,"
remarked Tom.

There was a gasp from Eradicate.

"Fo' de land sakes!" he cried. "De raskil! Ef dat ain't mah own
second cousin, what libs down by de ribber! An' to t'ink dat
Samuel 'Rastus Washington Jackson Johnson, mah own second cousin,
should try t' rob mah chicken coop! Oh, won't I gib it t' him!"

"Are you sure, Rad?" asked Tom.

"Suah? Sartin I'se suah, Massa Tom," was the answer as the
startled colored man on the screen stared at the small audience.
"I'd know. dat face ob his'n anywhere."

"Well, I guess he's the only one we caught last night," said
Tom, as the disappointed chicken thief ran away, and so out of
focus But the next instant there came another series of
flashlight explosions on the screen, and there, almost as plainly
as if our friends were looking at them, they saw two men
stealthily approaching the shop. They, too, as the chicken thief
had done, tried the door, and then, they also, startled by the
flashes, turned around.

"Look!" cried Ned.

"Great Scott !" exclaimed Tom. "Those are the two rivals of Mr.
Period! They are Mr. Turbot and Mr. Eckert!"

"Same men I pushed out!" cried Koku, much excited.

There was no doubt of it, and, as the images faded from the
screen, caused by the men running away, Tom and Ned realized that
their rivals had tried to put their threat into execution--the
threat of making Tom wish he had taken their offer.

"I guess they came to take my camera,--but, instead the camera
took them," said the young inventor grimly.


"Well, Tom, how is it going?" asked a voice at the door of the
shop where the young inventor was working. He looked up quickly
to behold Mr. Nestor, father of Mary, in which young lady, as I
have said, Tom was much interested. "How is the moving picture
camera coming on?"

"Pretty good, Mr. Nestor. Come in. I guess Koku knew you all
right. I told him to let in any of my friends, but I have to keep
him there on guard."

"So I understand. They nearly got in the other night, but I
hear that your camera caught them."

"Yes, that proved that the machine is a success, even if we
didn't succeed in arresting the men."

"Did you try?"

"Yes, I sent copies of the film, showing Turbot and Eckert
trying to break into my shop, to Mr. Period, and he had enlarged
photographs made, and went to the police. They said it was rather
flimsy evidence on which to arrest anybody, and so they didn't
act. However, we sent copies of the pictures to Turbot and Eckert
themselves, so they know that we know they were here, and I guess
they'll steer clear of me after this."

"I guess so, Tom," agreed Mr. Nestor with a laugh. "But what
about the chicken thief?"

"Oh, Eradicate attended to his second cousin. He went to see
him, showed him a print from the film, and gave him to understand
that he'd be blown up with dynamite, or kicked by Boomerang, if
he ever came around here again, and so Samuel 'Rastus Washington
Jackson Johnson will be careful about visiting strange chicken
coops, after this."

"I believe you, Tom. But how is the camera coming on?"

"Very well. I am making a few changes in it, and I expect to
get my biggest airship in readiness for the trip in about a week,
and then I'll try taking pictures from her. But I understand that
you are interested in Mr. Period's business, Mr. Nestor?"

"Yes, I own some stock in the company, and, Tom, that's what I
came over to see you about. I need a vacation. Mary and her
mother are going away this Spring for a long visit, and I was
wondering if you couldn't take me with you on the trips you will
make to get moving pictures for our concern."

"Of. course I can, Mr. Nestor. "I'll be glad to do it."

"And there is another thing, Tom," went on Mr. Nestor, soberly.
"I've got a good deal of my fortune tied up in this moving
picture affair. I want to see you win out--I don't want our
rivals to get ahead of us."

"They shan't get ahead of us."

"You see, Tom, it's this way. There is a bitter fight on
between our concern and that controlled by our rivals. Each is
trying to get the business of a large chain of moving picture
theatres throughout the United States. These theatre men are
watching us both, and the contracts for next season will go to
the concern showing the best line of films. If our rivals get
ahead of us--well, it will just about ruin our company,--and
about ruin me too, I guess."

"I shall do my very best," answered our hero.

"Is Mr. Damon going along?"

"Well, I have just written to ask him. I sent the letter

"Doesn't he know what you contemplate?"

"Not exactly. You see when he came, that time I was overcome by
the fumes from the acids, everything was so upset that I didn't
get a chance to tell him. He's been away on business ever since,
but returned yesterday. I certainly hope that he goes with us.
Ned Newton is coming, and with you, and Koku and myself, it will
be a nicer party."

"Then you are going to take Koku?"

"I think I will. I'm a little worried about what these rival
moving picture men might do, and if I get into trouble with them,
my giant helper would come in very useful, to pick one up and
throw him over a tree top, for instance."

"Indeed, yes," agreed Mr. Nestor, with a laugh. "But I hope
nothing like that happens."

"Nothing like that happens?" suddenly asked a voice. "Bless my
bookcase! but there always seems to be something going on here.
What's up now, Tom Swift?"

"Nothing much, Mr. Damon," replied our hero, as he recognized
his odd friend. "We were just talking about moving pictures, Mr.
Damon, and about you. Did you get my letter?"

"I did, Tom."

"And are you going with us?"

"Tom, did you ever know me to refuse an invitation from you? I
guess not! Of course I'm going. But, for mercy sakes, don't tell
my wife! She mustn't know about it until the last minute, and
then she'll be so surprised, when I tell her, that she won't
think of objecting. Don't let her know."

Tom laughed, and promised, and then the three began talking of
the prospective trip. After a bit Ned Newton joined the party.

Tom showed the two men how his new camera worked. He had made
several improvements on it since the first pictures were taken,
and now it was almost perfect. Mr. Period had been out to see it
work, and said it was just the apparatus needed.

"You can get films with that machine," he said, "that will be
better than any pictures ever thrown on a screen. My fortune will
be made, Tom, and yours too, if you can only get pictures that
are out of the ordinary. There will be some hair-raising work, I
expect, but you can do it."

"I'll try," spoke Tom. "I have--"

"Hold on! I know what you are going to say," interrupted Mr.
Period. "You are going to say that you've gone through some
strenuous times already. I know you have, but you're going to
have more soon. I think I'll send you to India first."

"To India!" exclaimed Tom, for Mr. Period had spoken of that as
if it was but a journey downtown.

"Yes, India. I want a picture of an elephant drive, and if you
can get pictures of the big beasts in a stampede, so much the
better. Then, too, the Durbar is on now, and that will make a
good film. How soon can you start for Calcutta?"

"Well, I've got to overhaul the airship," said Tom. "That will
take about three weeks. The camera is practically finished. I can
leave in a month, I guess."

"Good. We'll have fine weather by that time. Are you going all
the way by your airship?"

"No, I think it will be best to take that apart, ship it by
steamer, and go that way ourselves. I can put the airship
together in India, and then use it to get to any other part of
Europe, Asia or Africa you happen to want pictures from."

"Good! Well, get to work now, and I'll see you again."

In the days that followed, Tom and Ned were kept busy. There
was considerable to do on the airship, in the way of overhauling
it. This craft was Tom's largest, and was almost like the one in
which he had gone to the caves of ice, where it was wrecked. It
had been, however, much improved.

The craft was a sort of combined dirigible balloon, and
aeroplane, and could be used as either. There was a machine on
board for generating gas, to use in the balloon part of it, and
the ship, which was named the Flyer, could carry several persons.

"Bless my shoe laces!" cried Mr. Damon one day as he looked at
Koku. "If we take him along in the airship, will we be able to
float, Tom?"

"Oh, yes. The airship is plenty big enough. Besides, we are not
going to take along a very large party, and the camera is not
heavy. Oh, we'll be all right. I suppose you'll be on hand to-
morrow, Mr. Damon?"

"To-morrow? What for?"

"We're going to take the picture machine up in the airship, and
get some photos from the sky. I expect to make some films from
high in the air, as well as some in the regular way, on the
ground, and I want a little practice. Come around about two
o'clock, and we'll have a trial flight."

"All right. I will. But don't let my wife know I'm going up in
an airship again. She's read of so many accidents lately, that
she's nervous about having me take a trip."

"Oh, I won't tell," promised Tom with a laugh, and he worked
away harder than ever, for there were many little details to
perfect. The weather was now getting warm, as there was an early
spring, and it was pleasant out of doors.

The moving picture camera was gotten in readiness. Extra rolls
of films were on hand, and the big airship, in which they were to
go up, for their first test of taking pictures from high in the
air, had been wheeled out of the shed.

"Are you going up very far?" asked Mr. Nestor of Tom, and the
young inventor thought that Mary's father was a trifle nervous.
He had not made many flights, and then only a little way above
the ground, with Tom.

"Not very high," replied our hero. "You see I want to get
pictures that will be large, and if I'm too far away I can't do

"Glad to hear it, replied Mr. Nestor, with a note of relief in
his voice. "Though I suppose to fall a thousand feet isn't much
different from falling a hundred when you consider the results."

"Not much," admitted Tom frankly.

"Bless my feather bed!" cried Mr. Damon. "Please don't talk of
falling, when we're going up in an airship. It makes me nervous."

"We'll not fall!" declared Tom confidently.

Mr. Period sent his regrets, that he could not be present at
the trial, stating in his letter that he was the busiest man in
the world, and that his time was worth about a dollar a minute

Book of the day: