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

Tom Swift Among The Fire Fighters or Battling with Flames from the Air

Part 3 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.

But though Mr. Blake had certain suspicions regarding Field and
Melling, and though Tom Swift, too, believed they had something
to do with the disappearance of Baxter's secret formulae, it was
another matter to prove anything.

Impetuous as he often was, Mr. Blake was for calling in the
police at once, and having the two men arrested. But Tom
counseled delay.

"Wait until we get more evidence against them," he urged.

"But they may skip out!" objected Mary's uncle.

"They won't with that Landmark Building on their hands," said
the young inventor.

"Their hands! Huh! They'll take precious good care that the
trouble and responsibility of it are on other people's hands
before they go," declared Mr. Blake. "However, I suppose you're
right. Barton Keith sets a deal by your opinion since that
undersea search, and while I don't always agree with him, I do in
this case. Especially since he is likely to have the laugh on

"Oh, I wouldn't count everything lost in that building deal,"
said Tom. "A way may be found out of the trouble yet. But I must
be getting back. Dr. Henderson was to give a report today on the
condition of Eradicate's eyes, and I want to be there."

"Mary was saying something about your faithful old retainer
being in trouble," said Mr. Blake. "I'm sorry to hear about it."

"We are all sorry for poor Rad," replied Tom slowly. "I only
hope he gets his sight back. His last days will be very sad if he

Tom found Mary waiting for him after he had left her uncle,
and, after a short talk with her, he made ready to ride back with
Mr. Damon, who, after having attended to several other matters,
was now outside in his car.

"When are you coming home, Mary?" Tom asked.

"In a week or two," she answered. "I'll send word when I'm
ready and you can come and get me."

"Delighted!" declared Tom. "Don't forget!" During the ride home
the young inventor was unusually silent, so much so that Mr.
Damon finally exclaimed:

"Bless my phonograph, Tom Swift! but what is the matter? Has
Mary broken the engagement?"

"Oh, no, nothing like that," was the answer. "Only I'm
wondering about Eradicate, and--other matters."

Other matters had to do with what Mary's uncle had told Tom
about the interest manifested by Field and Melling in some dye

Tom's forebodings regarding his colored helper were nearly
borne out, for Dr. Henderson gloomily shook his head when asked
for the verdict.

"It's too early to say for a certainty," replied the medical
man, "but I am not as hopeful as I was, Tom, I'm sorry to say."

"I'm sorry to hear it," returned Tom. "Is there anything we can
do--any hospital to which we can send him for special treatment?"

"No, he is doing as well as he can be expected to right here.
Besides, he has his friends around him, and the companionship of
that giant of yours, absurd as it may seem, is really a tonic to
Eradicate. I never saw such devotion on the part of any one."

"Koku has certainly changed," said Tom. "He and Rad used always
to be quarreling. But I guess that is all over," and Tom sighed.

"Oh, I wouldn't say that," declared the medical man. "I haven't
given up, though there are some symptoms I do not like. However,
I am going to wait a week and then make another test."

Tom knew that the week would be an anxious one for him, but, as
it developed, he had so much to do in the next few days that, for
the time being, he rather forgot about Eradicate.

Field and Melling, he heard incidentally, had their machine
towed to a garage for repairs, but beyond that no word came from
the two men. Josephus Baxter remained at work over his dye
formulae in one of Tom's laboratories, but the young inventor did
not see much of the discouraged old man.

Tom did not tell of the encounter with Field and Melling and of
extinguishing the fire in their car, for he knew it would only
excite Mr. Baxter, and do no good.

It was within a few days of the time when Tom was to call in a
committee of fire insurance experts to give them a demonstration
of the efficiency of his aerial fire-fighting machine. He was
putting the finishing touches to his craft and its extinguishing-
dropping devices when he received a call from Mr. Baxter.

"Well, how goes it?" asked Tom, trying to infuse some cheer
into his voice.

"Not very well," was the answer. "I've tried, in every way I
know, to get on the track of the missing methods perfected by
that Frenchman, but I can't. I'd be a millionaire now, if I had
that dye information."

"Do you really think they have them--actually have the
formulae?" asked Tom.

"I certainly do. And the reason I believe so is that I was over
at a chemical supply factory the other day when an order came in
for a quantity of a very rare chemical."

"What has that to do with it?" asked Tom.

"This chemical is an ingredient called for by one of the dye
formulae that were stolen from me. I never heard of its being
used for anything else. I at once became suspicious. I learned
that this chemical had been ordered sent to Field and Melling in
their new offices in the Landmark Building."

"Maybe they intend to use it in making a new kind of
fireworks," suggested Tom.

Mr. Baxter shook his head.

"That chemical never would work in a skyrocket or Roman
candle," he said. "I'm sure they're trying to cheat me out of my
dye formulae. If I could only prove it!"

"That's the trouble," agreed Tom. "But I'll give you all the
help I can. And, come to think of it, I believe you might
interest Mr. Blake. He has no love for Field and Melling, and he
has several keen lawyers on his staff. I believe it would be a
good thing for you to talk to Mr. Blake."

"Please give me a letter of introduction to him," begged Mr.
Baxter. "What I need is legal talent and capital to fight these
scoundrels. Mr. Blake may supply both."

"He may," agreed Tom. "I'll fix it so you can meet him. But
what do you think of this combination, Mr. Baxter? It is my very
latest solution for putting out fires. I'm loading an airship up
with some of the bomb containers now, and--"

Tom's further remarks were interrupted by the noise of shouting
and tumult in the street, and a moment later yells could be heard

"Fire! Fire! Fire!"

"Another blaze!" exclaimed Mr. Baxter, raising the shades which
had been drawn, since night had fallen.

"And not far away," said Tom, as he caught the reflection of a
red gleam in the sky.

There was a ring at the front doorbell, and almost at once Ned
Newton's voice called:

"Tom! Tom Swift! There's quite a fire in town! Don't you want
to try your new apparatus on it?"

"The very chance!" exclaimed the young inventor. "Come on, Mr.
Baxter. There's room in the airship for you and Ned. I want you
to see how my chemical works!"

Without waiting for a reply from the chemist, Tom caught him by
the hand and led him toward the side door that gave egress to the
yard where one of the airships was housed. Tom caught sight of
Ned, who was hastening toward him.

"Big fire, Tom!" said the young manager again. "Fierce one!"

"I'm going to try to put it out!" Tom answered. "Want to come?"

"Sure thing!" answered Ned.



Tom Swift and Ned Newton were so accustomed to acting quickly
and in emergencies that it did not take them long to run out the
airship, which Tom had in readiness, not especially for this
emergency, but to demonstrate his new apparatus to a committee of
fire underwriters whom he had invited to call in a few days.

"Take this, if you will, Mr. Baxter!" cried Tom, giving the
chemist a metal container. "It's a little different combination
from the extinguisher I already have in the machine. Maybe I'll
get a chance to try it."

"You're going to have all the chance you want, Tom, by the
looks of that blaze," commented Ned Newton.

"It does look like quite a fire," observed Tom, as he gazed up
at the sky, where the reflection was turning to a brighter red.

Outside in the streets near the Swift house and shops could be
heard the rattle of fire apparatus, the patter of running feet,
and many shouts from excited men and boys.

"Any idea what it is, Ned?" asked Tom, as he motioned to Mr.
Baxter to climb into the aircraft.

"Some one said it was the new Normal School. But that's farther
to the north," was Ned's answer. "By the way the blaze has
increased since I first saw it, I'd take it to be the

"That would make a monster blaze!" observed Tom. "I don't
believe I'll have chemicals enough for that," and he looked at
the rather small supply in his craft. "However, I haven't time to
get any more. Besides, they'll have the regular department on the
job, and this isn't a skyscraper, anyhow."

"No, we'll have to go to New York or Newmarket for one of
those," observed Ned. "All ready, Tom?"

"All ready," said the young inventor, as Ned took his place
beside Mr. Baxter.

"What's the matter, Tom?" asked the voice of Mr. Swift, as he
came out into the yard, having been attracted by the flashing
lights and the noise of the aircraft motor, as Tom gave it a
preliminary test.

"There's a fire in town," Tom answered. "I'm going to see if
they need my services."

"Guess there isn't any question about that," said his business

Tom's father, who was suffering the infirmities of age, was in
the habit of retiring early, and he had dozed off in his chair
directly after supper, to be awakened by the shouting and
confusion about the place.

"Take care of yourself, my boy!" he advised, as there came a
moment of silence before the throttle of the aircraft was opened
to send it on its upward journey. "Don't take too many risks."

"I won't," Tom promised. "We'll be back soon."

Then came the roar of the motor as Tom cut out the muffler to
gain speed and, a moment later, he and his two friends were
sailing aloft with a load of fire-extinguishing chemicals.

Up and up rose the aircraft. It was not the first time Mr.
Baxter had enjoyed the sensation, but he was not enough of a
veteran to be immune to the thrills nor to be altogether void of
fear. And it was his first night trip. Still he gave few
evidences of nervousness.

"These she is!" cried Ned, for when the exhaust from the motor
was sent through the new muffler Tom had attached it was possible
to talk aboard the Lucifer. The young manager pointed down toward
the earth, over which the craft was then skimming, though at no
great height.

"It is the lumberyard!" exclaimed Mr. Baxter presently.

"It sure is," assented Tom. "I know I haven't enough stuff to
cover as big a blaze as that, but I'll do my best. Fortunately
there is no wind to speak of," he added, as he guided the craft
in the direction of the fire.

"What has that to do with it--I mean as far as the working of
your chemical extinguisher is concerned?" asked Mr. Baxter.
"Can't you drop the bomb containers accurately in a wind?"

"Well, the wind has to be allowed for in dropping anything from
an aeroplane," Tom answered. "And, naturally, it does spoil your
aim to an extent. But the reason I'm glad there is no wind to
speak of is that the chemical blanket I hope to spread over the
fire won't be so quickly blown away."

"Oh, I see," said Mr. Baxter. "Well, I'm glad that you will be
able to have a successful test of your invention."

"The regular land apparatus is on hand," observed Ned, for they
were now so near the fire that they could look down and, in the
reflection from the blaze, could see engines, hose-wagons and
hook and ladder trucks arriving and deploying to different places
of advantage, from which to fight the lumberyard fire that was
now a roaring furnace of flames.

"No skyscraper work needed here," observed Tom. "But it will
give me a chance to use the latest combination I worked out. I'll
try that first. Are you ready with it, Mr. Baxter?"

"Yes," was the answer.

The young inventor, not heeding the cries of wonder that arose
from below and paying no attention to the uplifted hands and arms
pointing to him, steered his craft to a corner of the yard where
there was a small isolated fire in a pile of boards. It was Tom's
idea to try his new chemical first on this spot to watch the
effect. Then he would turn loose all his other containers of the
chemical mixture that had proved so effective in other tests.

Attention of those who had gathered to look at the fire was
about evenly divided between the efforts of the regular
department and the pending action by Tom Swift. The latter was
not long in turning loose his latest sensation.

"Let it go!" he cried to Mr. Baxter, and down into the seething
caldron of flame dropped a thin sheet-iron container of powerful
chemicals. Leaning over the cockpit of the aircraft, the
occupants watched the effect. There was a slight explosion heard,
even above the roar of the flames, and the tongues of fire in the
section where Tom's extinguisher had fallen died down.

"Good work!" cried Ned.

"No!" answered Tom, shaking his head. "I was a little afraid of
this. Not enough carbon dioxide in this mixture. I'll stick to
the one I found most effective." For the flames, after
momentarily dying down, burst out again in the spot where he had
dropped the bomb.

Tom wheeled the airship in a sharp, banking turn, and headed
for the heart of the fire in the lumberyard. It was clearly
getting beyond the control of the regular department.

"How about you, Ned?" called Tom, for he had given his chum
charge of dropping the regular bombs containing a large quantity
of the extinguisher Tom had practically adopted.

"All ready," was the answer.

"Let 'em go!" came the command, and down shot the dark,
spherical objects. They burst as they hit the ground or the piles
of blazing lumber, and at once the powerful gases generated by
the mixture of several different chemicals were released.

Again the three in the airship leaned eagerly over the side of
the cockpit to watch the effect. It was almost magical in its

The bombs had been dropped into the very fiercest heart of the
fire, and it was only an instant before their action was made

"This will do the trick!" cried Ned. "I'm certain it will."

"I didn't have much fear that it wouldn't," said Tom. "But I
hoped the other would be better, for it is a much cheaper mixture
to make, and that will count when you come to sell it to big

"But the fire is certainly dying down," declared Mr. Baxter.

And this was true. As container after container of the bomb
type fell in different parts of the burning lumberyard, while Tom
coursed above it, the flames began to be smothered in various

And from the watching crowds, as well as from the hard-working
members of the Shopton fire department, came cheers of delight
and encouragement as they saw the work of Tom Swift's aerial
fire-fighting machine.

For he had, most completely, subdued what threatened to be a
great fire, and when the last of his bombs had been dropped, so
effective was the blanket of fire-dampening gases spread around
that the flames just naturally expired, as it were.

As Tom had said, the absence of wind was in his favor, for the
generated gases remained just where they were wanted, directly
over the fire like an extinguishing blanket, and were not blown
aside as would otherwise have been the case.

And, by the peculiar manner in which his chemicals were mixed,
Tom had made them practically harmless for human beings to
breathe. Though the fire-killing gases were unpleasant, there was
no danger to life in them, and while several of the firemen made
wry faces, and one or two were slightly ill from being too close
to the chemicals, no one was seriously inconvenienced.

"Well, I. guess that's all," said Tom, when the final bomb had
been dropped. "That was the last of them, wasn't it, Ned?"

"Yes, but you don't need any more. The fire's out--or what
isn't can be easily handled by the hose lines."

"Good!" cried Tom. "But, all the same, I wish I had been able
to make the first mixture work."

"Perhaps I can help you with that," suggested Mr. Baxter.

And the following day, after Tom had received the thanks of the
town officials and of the fire department for his work in
subduing the lumberyard blaze, the young inventor called Josephus
Baxter in consultation.

"I feel that I need your help," said the young inventor. "You
have been at this chemical study longer than I, and I am willing
to pay you well for your work. Of course I can't make up to you
the loss of your dye formulae. But while you are waiting for
something to turn up in regard to them, you may be glad to assist

"I will, and without pay," said the chemist.

But Tom would not hear of that, and together he and Mr. Baxter
set about putting the finishing touches to Tom's latest



"There, Tom Swift, it ought to work now!"

Josephus Baxter held up a large laboratory test tube, in which
seethed and bubbled some strange mixture, turning from green to
purple, then to red, and next to a white, milky mixture.

"Do you think you've hit on the right combination?" asked the
young inventor, whose latest idea, the plan of fighting fires in
skyscrapers from an airship as a vantage point, was taking up all
his spare moments.

"I'm positive of it," said Mr. Baxter. "I've dabbled in
chemicals long enough to be certain of this, even if I can't get
on the track of the missing dye formulae."

"That certainly is too bad," declared Tom. "I wish I could help
you as much as you have helped me."

"Oh, you have helped me a lot," said the chemist. "You have
given me a place to work, much better than the laboratory I had
in the old fireworks factory of Field and Melling. And you have
paid me, more than liberally, for what little I have done for

"You've done a lot for me," declared Tom. "If it had not been
for your help this chemical compound would not be nearly as
satisfactory as it is, nor as cheap to manufacture, which is a
big item."

"Oh, you were on the right track," said Mr. Baxter. "You would
have stumbled on it yourself in a short time, I believe. But I
will say, Tom Swift, that, between us, we have made a compound
that is absolutely fatal to fires. Even a small quantity of it,
dropped in the heart of a large blaze, will stop combustion."

"And that's what I want," declared Tom. "I think I shall go
ahead now, and proceed with the manufacture of the stuff on a
large scale."

"And what do you propose doing with it?" asked Mr. Baxter.

"I'm going to sell the patent and the idea that goes with it to
as many large cities as I can," Tom answered. "I'll even
manufacture the airships that are needed to carry the stuff over
the tops of blazing skyscrapers, dropping it down. I'll supply
complete aerial fire-fighting plants."

"And I think you'll do a good business," said the chemist.

It was the conclusion of the final tests of an improved
chemical mixture, and the reaction that had taken place in the
test tube was the end of the experiment. Success was now again on
the side of Tom Swift.

But when that has been said there remains the fact that it was
just the other way with the unfortunate Mr. Baxter.

Try as he had, he could not succeed in getting the right
chemical combination to perfect the dye process imparted to him
by his late French friend. With the disappearance of the secret
formulae went the good luck of Josephus Baxter.

He had worked hard, taking advantage of Tom's generosity, to
bring back to his memory the proper manner of mixing certain
ingredients, so that permanent dyes of wondrous beauty in
coloring would be evolved. But it was all in vain.

"I know who have those formulae," declared the chemist again
and again. "It is those scoundrels, Field and Melling. And they
are planning to build up their own dye business with what is mine
by right!"

And though Tom, also, believed this, there was no way of
proving it.

As the young inventor had said, he was now ready to put his own
latest invention on the market. After many tests, aided in some
by Mr. Baxter, a form of liquid fire extinguisher had been made
that was superior to any known, and much cheaper to manufacture.
Veteran members of fire departments in and about Shopton told Tom
so. All that remained was to demonstrate that it would be as
effective on a large scale as it was on a small one, and big
cities, it was agreed, must, of necessity, add it to their

"Well, I think I'll give orders to start the works going," said
Tom, at the conclusion of the final test. "I have all the
ingredients on hand now, and all that remains is to combine them.
My airship is all ready, with the bomb-dropping device."

"And I wish you all sorts of luck," said Mr. Baxter. "Now I am
going to have another go at my troubles. I have just thought of a
possible new way of combining two of the chemicals I need to use.
It may be I shall have success."

"I hope so," murmured Tom. He was about to leave the room when
Koku, the giant, entered, with a letter in his hand. The big man
showed some signs of agitation, and Tom was at once apprehensive
about Eradicate.

"Is Rad--has anything happened--shall I get the doctor?"

"Oh, Rad, him all right," answered Koku. "That is him not see
yet, but mebby soon. Only I have to chase boy, an' he make faces
at me--boy bring this," and the giant held out the envelope.

"Oh!" exclaimed Tom, and he understood now. Messenger boys
frequently came to Tom's house or to the shops, and they took
delight in poking fun at Koku on account of his size, which made
him slow in getting about. The boys delighted to have him chase
them, and something like this had evidently just taken place,
accounting for Koku's agitation.

"This is for you, Mr. Baxter, not for me," said Tom, as he read
the name on the envelope.

"For me!" exclaimed the chemist. "Who could be writing to me?
It's a big firm of dye manufacturers," he went on, as he caught a
glimpse of the superscription in the upper left hand corner.

Quickly he read the contents of the epistle, and a moment later
he gave a joyful cry.

"I'm on the trail! On the trail of those scoundrels at last!"
exclaimed Josephus Baxter. "This gives me just the evidence I
needed! Now I'll have them where I want them!"



Josephus Baxter was so excited by the receipt of the letter
which Koku delivered to him that for some seconds Tom Swift could
get nothing out of him except the statement:

"I'm on their trail! Now I'm on their trail!"

"What do you mean?" Tom insisted. "Whose trail? What's it all

"It's about Field and Melling! That's who it's about!"
exclaimed Mr. Baxter, with a smothered exclamation. "Look, Tom
Swift, this letter is addressed to me from one of the biggest dye
firms in the world--a firm that is always looking for something

"But if you haven't anything new to give them, of what use is
it?" Tom asked, for he knew that the chemist had said his
process, stolen, as he claimed, by Field and Melling, was his
only new project.

"But I will have something new when I get those secret formulae
away from those scoundrels!" declared Mr. Baxter.

"Yes, but how are you going to do it, when you can't even prove
that they have them?" asked Tom.

"Ah, that's the point! Now I think I can prove it," declared
Mr. Baxter. "Look, Tom Swift! This letter is addressed to me in
care of Field and Melling at the office I used to have in their
fireworks factory."

"The office from which you were rescued nearly dead," Tom

"Exactly. The place where you saved me from a terrible death.
Well, if you will notice, this letter was written only two days
ago. And it is the first mail I have received as having been
forwarded from that address since the fire. I know other mail
must have come for me, though."

"What became of it?" asked Tom.

"Those scoundrels confiscated it!" declared the chemist. "But,
in some manner, perhaps through the error of a new clerk, this
letter was remailed to me here, and now I have it. It is of the
utmost importance!"

"In what way?" asked Tom.

"Why, it is directed to me, outside and in, and it makes an
inquiry about the very dyes of the lost secret formulae, one dye
in particular."

"I don't quite understand yet," said Tom.

"Well, it's this way," went on Mr. Baxter. "I had, in the
office of Field and Melling, all the papers telling exactly how
to make the dyes. After the fire, in which I was rendered
unconscious, those papers disappeared.

"The only way in which any one could make the dyes in question
was by following the formulae given in those papers. And now here
is a letter, addressed to me from a big firm, asking my prices on
a certain dye, which can only be made by the process bequeathed
to me by the Frenchman."

"Which means what?" asked Tom.

"It means that Field and Melling must have been writing to this
firm on their own hook, offering to sell them some of this dye.
But, in some way, my name must have appeared on the letter or
papers sent on by the scoundrels, and this big firm replies to me
direct, instead of to Field and Melling! Even then I would not
have benefited if they had confiscated this letter as I am sure,
they have done in the case of others. But, by some slip, I get

"And it proves, Tom Swift, that Field and Melling are in
possession of my dye formulae, and that they have tried to
dispose of some of the dye to this firm. Not knowing anything of
this, the firm replies to me. So now I have direct evidence--just
what I wanted--and I can get on the trail of the scoundrels who
have cheated me of my rights."

Tom looked at the letter which, it appeared, had been left with
Koku by a special delivery boy from the post office. It was an
inquiry about certain dyes, and was addressed to Mr. Baxter in
care of Field and Melling, the former fireworks firm, which now
had started a big dye plant, with offices in the Landmark
Building in Newmarket.

"It does look as though you might get at them through this,"
Tom said, as he handed back the letter. "But I'm afraid you'll
have to get further evidence before you could convict them in a
court of law--you'll have to show that they actually have
possession of your formulae."

"That's what I wish I could do," said the chemist, somewhat
wistfully. His first enthusiasm had been lessened.

"I'll help you all I can," offered Tom. And events were soon to
transpire by which the young inventor was to render help to the
chemist in a most sensational manner.

"Just now," Tom went on, "I must arrange about getting a large
supply of these chemicals made, and then plan for a test in some
big city."

"Yes, you have done enough for me," said Mr. Baxter. "But I
think now, with this letter as evidence, we'll be able to make a

"I agree with you," Tom said. "Why don't you go over to see Mr.
Damon? He's a good business man, and perhaps he can advise you.
You might also call on that lawyer who does work for Mr. Keith
and Mr. Blake. And that reminds me I must call Mary Nestor up and
find out when she is coming home. I promised to fetch her in one
of the airships."

"I will go and see Mr. Damon," decided Mr. Baxter. "He always
gives good advice."

"Even if he does bless everything he sees!" laughed Tom. "But
if you're going to see him I'll run you over. I'm going to

"Thanks, I'll be glad to go with you," said the chemist.

Mr. Damon was glad to see his friends, and, when he had
listened to the latest developments, he exclaimed with unusual

"Bless my law books, Mr. Baxter! but I do believe you're on the
right trail at last. Come in, and we'll talk this over."

So Tom left them, traveling on to a distant city where he
arranged for a large supply of the chemicals he would need in his

For several days Tom was so busy that he had little time to
devote to Mr. Baxter, or even to see him. He learned, however,
that the chemist and Mr. Damon were in frequent consultation, and
the young inventor hoped something would come of it.

Tom's own plans were going well. He had let several large
cities know that he had something new in the way of a fire-
fighting machine, and he received several offers to demonstrate

He closed with one of these, some distance off, and agreed to
fly over in his aircraft and extinguish a fire which was to be
started in an old building which had been condemned. and was to
be destroyed. This was in a city some four hundred miles away and
when Ned Newton called on him one afternoon he found Tom busily
engaged in loading his sky-craft with a heavy cargo of the newest
liquid extinguisher.

"You aren't taking any chances, are you, Tom?" asked Ned.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean you seem to have enough of the liquid 'fire-
discourager' to douse any blaze that was ever started."

"No use sending a boy on a man's errand," said Tom. "I'm
counting on you to go with me, Ned--you and Mr. Baxter. We leave
this afternoon for Denton."

"I'll be with you. Couldn't pass up a chance like that. But
here comes Koku, and it looks as if he had something on his

The giant did, indeed, seem to be laboring under the stress of
some emotion.

"Oh, Master Tom!" the big man exclaimed when he had got the
attention of the young inventor. "Rad--he--he--"

"Has anything happened?" asked Tom, quickly. "No, not yet. But
dat pill man--he say by tomorrow he know if Rad ever will see
sunshine more!"

"Oh, the doctor says he'll be able to decide about Rad's
eyesight tomorrow, does he?"

"Yes. What so pill man say," repeated Koku.

"Um," mused Tom, "I wish I were going to be here, but I don't
see how I can. I must give this test." But it was with a sinking
heart as he thought of poor Eradicate that the young inventor
proceeded to pile into his airship the largest and heaviest load
of chemicals it had ever carried.



"WELL, what do you say, Tom?" asked Ned, in a low voice.

"She's all right as far as I can see, though she may stagger a
bit at the take off."

"It's a pretty heavy load," agreed the young manager, as he and
Tom Swift walked about the big fire-fighting airship Lucifer,
which had been rolled outside the hangar. "But still I think
she'll take it, especially since you've tuned up the motor so
it's at least twenty per cent. more powerful than it was."

"Perhaps you'd better leave me out," suggested Mr. Baxter, who
had been helping the boys. "I'm not a feather weight, you know."

"I need you with us," said Tom. "I want your expert opinion on
the effect the new chemicals have on the flames."

"Well, I'd like to come," admitted the chemist, "for it will be
a valuable experience for me. But I don't want an accident up in
the air."

"Trust Tom Swift for that!" cried Ned. "If he says his aircraft
will do the trick, it positively will."

"How about leaving me out?" asked Mr. Damon. "I'm not an expert
in anything, as far as I know."

"You are in keeping us cheerful. And we may need you to bless
things if there's a slip-up anywhere," laughed Tom, for Mr. Damon
had been invited to be one of the party.

"I don't so much mind a slipup," said Mr. Damon, "as I do a
slip down. That's where it hurts! However, I'll take a chance
with you, Tom Swift. It won't be the first one--and I guess it
won't be the last."

The work of getting the big airship ready for what was to be a
conclusive test of her fire-fighting abilities from the clouds
proceeded rapidly. As has been related, Tom had perfected, with
the help of Mr. Baxter, a combination of chemicals which was
effective in putting out a fire when dropped into the blaze from
above. Quantities of this combination had been stored in metal
containers which Tom had at first styled "bombs," but which he
now called "aerial grenades."

The manner of dropping the grenades was, on the whole, similar
to the manner in which bombs were dropped from airships during
the Great War, but Tom had made several improvements in this

These improvements had to do with the releasing of the bombs,
or, in this case, grenades. It is not easy to drop or throw
something from a swiftly moving airship so that it will hit an
object on the ground. During the war aviators had to train for
some time before becoming even approximately accurate.

Tom Swift decided that to leave this matter to chance or to the
eye of the occupant of an airship was too indefinite. Accordingly
he invented a machine, something like a range-finder for big
guns. With this it was a comparatively easy matter to drop a
grenade at almost any designated place.

To accomplish this it was necessary to take into consideration
the speed of the airship, its height above the ground, the
velocity of the wind, the weight of the grenades, and other
things of this sort. But by an intricate mathematical process Tom
solved the problem, so that it was only necessary to set certain
pointers and levers along a slide rule in the cockpit of the
craft. Then when the releasing catch was pressed, the grenades
would drop down just about where they were most needed.

"I think everything is ready," said Tom, when he had taken a
last look over his craft, making sure that all the chemical
grenades were in place. "If you will be ready, gentlemen, we will
take our places and start in about half an hour," he added. "I
want to say goodbye to my father, and cheer up Rad--if I can."

"The doctor will know tomorrow, will he?" asked Mr. Damon.

"Yes. And I'm sorry I will not be here to listen to the
report," said Tom. "Though I am almost afraid to receive it," he
added in a low voice. "I shall blame myself if Rad is to go
through the remainder of his life blind."

"It couldn't be helped," said Ned. "We'll hope for the best."

"Yes," agreed Tom, "that's all we can do--hope for the best. By
the way," he went on, turning to Mr. Baxter, "are you any nearer
fastening the guilt on those two rascals, Field and Melling?"

"Bless my prosecuting attorney, no!" exclaimed Mr. Damon.
"Those are the slickest scoundrels I ever tackled! They're like a
flea. Once you think you have them where you want them, and
they're on the other side of the table, skipping around."

"I've about given up," said Mr. Baxter, in discouraged tones.
"I guess my dye formulae are gone forever."

"Don't say that!" exclaimed Tom. "Once I get this fire matter
off my hands, I'm going to tackle the problem myself. We'll
either make those fellows sorry they ever meddled in this matter,
or we'll get up a new combination of dyes that will put them out
of business!"

"Bless my Easter eggs, I'm glad to hear you talk that way!"
cried Mr. Damon.

"Well, Rad, I'll expect to see you up and around when I get
back," said Tom to his old servant, as he stepped into the sick
room to say goodbye.

"Oh, is yo' goin', Massa Tom?" asked the colored man, turning
his bandaged head in the direction of the beloved voice.

"Yes. I'm going to try out a new scheme of mine--the fire
extinguisher, you know."

"De same one whut fizzed up, an'--an' busted me in de eyes,
Massa Tom?"

"Yes, Rad, I'm sorry to say, it's the same one."

"Oh, shucks now, Massa Tom! whut's use worryin'?" laughed Rad.
"I suah will be all right when yo' gits back. De doctor man--de
'pill man' dat giant calls him--says I'll suah be better."

"Of course you will," declared Tom, but his heart sank when he
saw Mrs. Baggert remove the bandages and he caught sight of Rad's
burned face and the eyes that had to be kept closed if ever they
were again to look on the sunshine and flowers. "And when I come
back, Rad, I'll stage a little fire for your benefit, and show
you how quickly I can put it out."

"Ha! dat's whut I wants to see, Massa Tom, I suah does like to
see fires!" chuckled Eradicate. "Mah ole mule, Boomerang--does
yo' 'member. him, Massa Tom?"

"Of course, Rad!"

"Well, Boomerang he liked fires, too. Liked 'em so much I jest
couldn't git him past 'em lots ob times I But run 'long, Massa
Tom. Yo' ain't got no time to waste on an ole culled man whut's
seen his best days. Yas-sir, I reckon I'se seen mah best days,"
and the smile died from the honest, black face.

"Oh, don't talk like that!" cried Tom, as cheerfully as he
could. "You've got a lot of work in you yet, Rad. Hasn't he,
Koku?" and the young inventor appealed to the giant, who seldom
left the side of his former enemy.

"Rad good man--him an' me do lots work--next week mebby," said
Koku, smiling very broadly.

"That's the way to talk!" exclaimed Tom, and he laughed a
little though his heart was far from light.

And then, having seen to the final details, he took his place
in the big airship with Ned, Mr. Damon and Josephus Baxter. The
craft carried the largest possible load of fire extinguishing

As Tom had feared, the Lucifer staggered a bit in "taking off"
late that afternoon when the start was made for the distant city
of Denton, where the first real test was to be made under the
supervision and criticism of the fire department. But once the
craft was aloft she rode on a level keel.

"I guess we're all right," Tom said. But to make certain he
circled several times over his own landing field, that a good
place to come down might be assured if something unforeseen

However, all went well, and then the course was straightened
for the distant city.

"We'll go right over Newmarket, sha'n't we, Tom?" asked Ned, as
the speed of the Lucifer increased.

"Yes. And I wish I had time to stop and see Mary, but I
haven't. It's getting dark fast, and we ought to arrive at our
destination early in the morning. The test has been set by the
committee for ten o'clock."

They settled themselves comfortably in the big craft for a long
night trip, and Mr. Damon was just going to bless something or
other when he pointed off into the distance.

"Look, Tom!" cried the eccentric man. "See that light in the

"Seems to be a fire," observed Ned.

"It is a fire!" shouted Mr. Baxter. "And it's
in Newmarket, if I'm any judge."

Tom Swift did not answer, but he shoved forward the gasolene
lever of his controls, and the Lucifer shot ahead through the air
while the red, angry glow deepened in the evening sky.



While Tom Swift was loading the Lucifer for her trip and the
fire extinguishing test to occur the next morning, quite a
different scene was taking place in the home of Jasper Blake, the
uncle of Mary Nestor, where she had gone to spend a few weeks.

"Well, are you all ready, Mary?" asked her aunt, and it was
about the same time that Ned Newton asked that same question of
Tom Swift. Only Tom was in Shopton, and Mary was in Newmarket,
and Tom was setting off on an air voyage, while Mary was only
preparing to take a car downtown to do some shopping.

"Yes, Aunt, I'm all ready," Mary answered. "But I may be a bit
late getting home."

"Why?" asked Mrs. Blake.

"I promised Uncle Barton I'd stop and call on him at his
office," Mary replied. "He has something he wants me to take home
to mother when I go tomorrow."

"I shall be sorry to see you go back," said Mrs. Blake. "But I
imagine there will be those in Shopton who will be glad to see
you return, Mary."

"Yes, mother wrote that she and dad were getting a bit
lonesome," the girl casually replied, as she adjusted her veil.

"Yes, and some one else. Ah, Mary, you are a very lucky girl!"
laughed her aunt, while Mary turned aside so she would not see
her own blushes in the mirror.

"I thought Tom was going to call and take you home in his
airship, Mary," went on her relative.

"So he is, I believe, on his way back from a city where he is
going to be tomorrow making a big fire test. I am to wait for him
until tomorrow afternoon. But now I really must go shopping, or
all the bargains will be taken. Is there any word you want to
send to Uncle Barton?"

"No," answered Mrs. Blake. "Though you might tell him to stop
poking fun at your Uncle Jasper for having invested money in the
Landmark Building. It's getting on your Uncle Jasper's nerves,"
she added.

"Uncle Barton never can give up a joke, once he thinks he has
one," said Mary. "But I'll tell him to stop pestering Uncle

"Please do," urged Mary's aunt, and then the girl left.

Mary's uncle, Barton Keith, with whom Tom Swift had been
associated during the undersea search, had offices in the
Landmark Building, but his home was in an adjoining suburb.

The girl was pleased with the results of her shopping, and at
the close of the afternoon she stopped at the Landmark Building
and was soon being shot up in the elevator to the floor where
Barton Keith had his offices.

Though Mr. Keith had refrained from investing in the Landmark
Building and though he laughed at Mary's Uncle Jasper for having
done so, this did not prevent him from having a suite of offices
in the big structure which, as we already know, was owned in
large part by Field and Melling.

"Ah, Mary! Come in!" exclaimed Mr. Keith, welcoming Tom Swift's
sweetheart. "It is so late I was afraid you weren't coming, and I
was about to close the office and go home."

"You must blame the bargain sales for my delay," laughed Mary.
"I hope I haven't kept you waiting."

"No, I still had a few things to do. One was to write a letter
to your Uncle Jasper, telling him I had heard of another fire
trap that was open to investors."

"Oh, and that reminds me I must tell you not to push Uncle
Jasper too far!" warned Mary.

"Ha! Ha!" laughed Uncle Barton. "He made fun of me for going on
the undersea search with Tom Swift. But I made good on that, and
that's more than he can say about his Landmark Building deal!"

"But don't exasperate him too much!" begged Mary. "By the way,
what are they doing to this building? I see the stairways and
some of the elevator shafts all littered with building material."

"They are trying to make it fireproof," answered her uncle.
"It's rather late to try that now, but they've got either to do
it or stand a big increase in insurance rates. I'm glad I'm out
of it. But now, Mary, take an easy chair until I finish some
work, and then I'll walk out with you.

Mary took a seat near one of the front windows, whence she
could look down into the now fast-darkening streets. She could
see the supper crowds hurrying home, and out in the corridor of
the big skyscraper could be heard the banging of elevator doors
as the office tenants, one after another, left for the day.

Suddenly there was more commotion than usual, followed by the
sound of broken glass. Then came a cry of:

"Fire! Fire!"

Mary sprang to her feet with a gasp of alarm, and her uncle
rushed past her to the door leading into the hall outside his
offices. As he opened the door a cloud of smoke rushed toward him
and Mary, causing them to choke and gasp.

Mr. Keith closed the door a moment, and when he opened it again
the smoke in the hall seemed less dense.

"It probably is only a slight blaze among some of the material
the workmen are using," he said. "Come, Mary, we'll get out."

Pausing only to swing shut the door of his heavy safe and to
stuff some valuable papers into his pocket, Mr. Keith advanced
and, taking Mary by the arm, led her into the hall. The smoke was
increasing again, and distant shouts and cries could be heard,
mingled with the breaking of glass.

Mr. Keith rang the elevator buzzer several times, but when no
car came up the shaft in response to his summons he turned to his
niece and said:

"We'll try the stairs. It's only ten stories down, and going
down isn't anything like coming up."

"Oh, indeed I can walk!" said Mary. "Let's hurry out!"

They turned toward the stairway, which wound around the
elevator shafts, but such a cloud of hot, stifling smoke rolled
up that it sent them back, choking and gasping for breath.

And then, as they stood there, up the elevator shafts, which
were veritable chimneys, came more hot smoke, mingled with sparks
of fire.

"Trapped!" gasped Mr. Keith, and he pulled Mary back toward his
offices to get away from the choking, stifling smoke. "We're



"Uncle! Uncle Barton!" faltered Mary, as she clung to Mr.
Keith. "Can't we get down the stairs?"

"I'm afraid not, Mary," he answered, and he closed the door of
his office to keep out the smoke that was ever increasing.

"And won't the elevators come for us?"

"They don't seem able to get up," was his reply. "Probably the
fire started in the bottom of the shafts, and they act just like
flues, drawing up the flames and smoke."

"Then we must try the fire escapes!" exclaimed Mary, and she
started toward the front window, pulling her uncle across the
room after her.

"Mary, there aren't--aren't any fire escapes!" he said

"No fire escapes!" The girl turned paler than before.

"No, not an escape as far as I know. You see, this was thought
to be a fireproof building at first and small attention was given
to escapes. Then the law stepped in and the owners were ordered
to put up regular escapes. They have started the work, but just
now the old escapes have been torn down and the new ones are not
yet in place."

"Oh, but Uncle Barton! can't we do something?" cried Mary.
"There must be some way out! Let's try the elevators again, or
the stairs!"

Before Mr. Keith could stop her Mary had opened the door into
the hall. To the agreeable surprise of her uncle there seemed to
be less smoke now.

"We may have a chance!" he cried, and he rushed out. "Hurry!"

Frantically he pushed the button that summoned the elevators.
Down below, in the elevator shafts, could be heard the roar and
crackle of flames.

"Let's try the stairs!" suggested Mary. "They seem to be free

She started down the staircase which went in square turns about
the battery of elevators, and her uncle followed. But they had
not more than reached the first landing when a roll of black,
choking smoke, mingled with sparks of fire, surged into their

"Back, Mary! Back!" cried Mr. Keith, and he dragged the
impetuous girl with him to their own corridor, and back into his
offices which, for the time being, were comparatively free from
the choking vapor.

"We must try the windows, Uncle Barton! We must!" cried Mary.
"Surely there is some way down--maybe by dropping from ledge to

Her uncle shook his head. Then he opened the window and looked
out. As he did so there arose from the streets below the cries of
many voices, mingled with the various sounds of fire apparatus --
the whistles of engines, the clang of gongs, and the puffing of

"The firemen are here! They'll save us!" cried Mary, as she
heard the noises in the street below. "We can leap into the life

"There isn't a life net made, nor men who could retain it, to
hold up a person jumping from the tenth story," said her uncle.
"Our only chance is to wait for them to subdue the fire."

"Isn't there a back way down, Uncle Barton?" "No, Mary!" He
closed the window for, open as it was, the draft created served
to suck smoke into the office, and Mary was coughing.

Uncle and niece faced each other. Trapped indeed they were,
unless the fire, which was now raging all through the building,
with the stairs and elevator shafts as a center. could be
subdued. That the city fire department was doing its best was not
to be doubted.

"We can only wait--and hope," said Mr. Keith solemnly.

Mary gave a gasp. Her uncle thought she was going to burst into
tears, but she bravely conquered herself and faced him with what
was meant to be a smile. But it is difficult to smile with
quivering lips, and Mary soon gave up the attempt.

Mr. Keith went over to the water cooler--one of those inverted
large glass bottles--and looked to see how much water it

"It's nearly full," he said.

"What good will it do?" asked Mary. "This fire is beyond a
little water like that."

"Yes, but it will serve to keep our handkerchiefs wet so we can
breathe through them if the smoke gets too thick," was his reply.

"It begins to look as if we'd need to try that soon," said
Mary, and she pointed to thick smoke curling in under the door.

"Yes," agreed her uncle. "It's getting worse." Hardly had he
spoken when there came a rush of feet in the corridor outside his
office door. Then a voice exclaimed:

"We're trapped! We can't get down either the stairs or the

"It can't be possible!" said another voice. "Something must be
done! Help! Help! Take us out of here!"

"Foolish cowards!" murmured Mr. Keith, and then the door of his
office was violently opened and two men rushed in. They were
strangers to Mary and her uncle.

"Isn't there any way out of this fire trap?" cried one of the
men. "Are there any fire escapes at your windows?"

"None," said Mr. Keith.

"This is all your fault, Melling!" cried the smaller of the two
men, whose voice, in loudness and depth of pitch, was out of all
proportion to his size. "All your fault! I told you we should
have those new fire escapes!"

"And you were the one, Field, who objected to the cost of fire
escapes when you found what the charge would be," retorted the
other. "You said we didn't need to waste that money, if the
building was fire-proof."

"But it isn't, Melling! It isn't!" yelled the other.

"We're finding that out too late!" came the retort. "But I'm
not going to die here like a rat in a trap!" And he raised the
window and leaned out and yelled, "Help! Help! Help!"

"Don't do that," said Mr. Keith, coming over to close the
casement. "They can't hear you down below, and opening the window
will only fill this place with smoke. Are you Field and Melling?"

"Yes, of the Consolidated Dye Company," was the answer from the
big man. "We are also part owners of this building, but I wish we

"It is a pretty poor specimen of a modern building," said Mr.
Keith. "You have offices here, haven't you?" he went on. "I
remember to have seen your names on the directory."

"We're on the floor above," was the answer from Field. "We were
in a rear room, going over some accounts, and we didn't know
anything was wrong until we smelled smoke. We tried to get down,
and managed to come, by way of the stairs, as far as this floor,"
he explained quickly.

"You can't go any farther," said Mr. Keith. "All there is to do
is to wait for the firemen."

"Suppose they never come?" whined Melling. "Oh, they'll come!"
asserted Mary's uncle, but he spoke more to quiet her alarm than
because he really believed it, for the Landmark Building was a
seething furnace of flame centering in and about the elevator
shafts and stairs.

Meanwhile Tom and his companions in the airship had seen the
red glow in the evening sky, and in another minute the young
inventor had turned his craft more directly toward it.

"It surely is in Newmarket," said Mr. Damon. "Right in the
center of the city, too. There's one big building there--the

"Looks as if that was afire," said Ned quickly. "Hasn't some
relative of Mary's an office there, Tom?"

"Yes. Mr. Keith. And her other uncle, Jasper Blake, is also
interested in the building. It's the Landmark all right!" cried
Tom, as his craft rose higher and advanced nearer the blaze.

"What are you going to do?" yelled Mr. Damon, as he saw the
young inventor head directly toward a spouting mushroom of flame,
which showed that the fire had broken through the roof. "What are
you going to do?"

"Go to the rescue!" answered Tom Swift. "I couldn't ask a
better opportunity to try my new extinguisher! Sit tight, every



Once it became evident to the occupants of the airship what Tom
Swift's plans were, they all prepared to help him. Previous to
the trip certain duties had been assigned to each one, duties
which were to be exercised when Tom gave the exhibition of his
new aerial fire-fighting apparatus at the set fire before the
fire department of Denton.

This preparation now stood the young inventor in good stead,
for there was no confusion aboard the Lucifer when she winged her
way toward the burning Landmark Building, where the flames were
continually spouting higher and higher as they rushed through the
roof, directly above the stairway well and elevator shafts.

So far the flames had confined themselves to this central part
of the big structure, but it was only a question of time when
they would spread out on all sides, licking up the remainder of
the pile. And, for the most part, the firemen on the ground were
at a great disadvantage.

They had run in lines as near as they could get to the center
of the blaze, and had also attached hose to the standpipes inside
the building. But this last effort was wasted, as developed
later, for there was no one in the building to direct the nozzle
ends of the hose attached to the standpipes on the different
floors. Also the fierce heat fairly melted the pipes themselves
in the vicinity of the elevator shafts, and there was no
automatic sprinkling system in the building.

This was the situation, then, when Tom in his airship loaded
with fire-extinguishing chemicals headed for the blaze. And this,
also, was the desperate situation that confronted Mary Nestor and
her uncle, Barton Keith, as well as Amos Field and Jason Melling.
Those unscrupulous and cowardly men were in a veritable panic of
fear, which contrasted strangely with the calm, resigned attitude
of Mary and her uncle.

"We must get out! Some one must save us!" yelled Field.

"Jump from the window!" cried Melling.

"No, I can't permit that!" declared Mr. Keith, standing in
their path. "It would be sure death! As it is, there may be a

"A chance? How?" asked Field. "Listen to that!"

Through the closed door of Mr. Keith's office could be heard
the roar and crackle of flames, while the very air was now
stifling and hot, filled with acrid smoke.

"We can only wait," said Mr. Keith, and he wet Mary's
handkerchief in the water and handed it to her to bind over her

"Is everything all right, Ned?" called Tom, as he turned on a
little more power, so that the Lucifer lunged ahead toward the
great pillar of fire that now reddened the sky for miles around.

"All ready," was the answer. "You only have to give the word
when you want us to let go."

"Let go!" cried Mr. Damon. "Bless my umbrella, Tom! We don't
have to jump out, do we?"

"He means to let go the extinguisher grenades," said Mr.
Baxter. "Shall we let them all go at once, Tom?" asked the

"No, drop half when I shoot over the first time. We'll see what
effect they have, and then come back with the rest."

"That's the idea!" cried Ned. "Well, give us the word when
you're ready, Tom."

"I will," was the answer of the young inventor, and with keen
eyes he began to set the automatic gages so those in charge of
the grenades would be able to drop them most effectively.

The flames were mounting higher and higher above the ill-fated
Landmark Building. It was a "land-mark" now, for miles around--a
fearsome mark, indeed.

"I hope every one is out of the place," said Ned, as the
airship approached nearer and the fierceness of the fire was more

"Bless my thermometer, you're right!" exclaimed Mr. Damon. "I
don't see how any one could live in that furnace."

Seen from above it appeared that the fire was engulfing the
whole building, while, as a matter of fact, only the central
portion was yet blazing. But it was only a question of time when
the remainder would ignite.

And it was to this fact--that the fire was rushing up the
stairway and elevator shafts as up a chimney--that Mary and her
uncle, as well as Field and Melling, owed their temporary safety.

Had Tom known that the girl he loved was in such direful
danger, it is doubtful if his hand would have been as steady as
it was on throttle and steering wheel. But not a muscle or nerve
quivered. To Tom it was but carrying out a prearranged task. He
was going to extinguish a great blaze, or attempt to do so, by
means of his aerial fire-fighting apparatus. And his previous
tests had given him confidence in his device. His one regret was
that the fire department of the city that was contemplating the
purchase of certain rights in his invention could not witness
what he was about to do.

"But they'll hear of it," declared Ned, when Tom voiced this
idea to his chum.

Nearer and nearer to the up-spouting column of flames the
airship winged her way. Tense and alert, Tom sat at the wheel
guiding his craft with her load of fire-defying chemicals. Behind
him were Ned, Mr. Damon and Mr. Baxter, ready to drop the
grenades at the word.

"Getting close, Tom!" called Ned, as they could all feel the
heat of the conflagration in the Landmark Building, which now
seemed doomed.

"You'll not dare cross it too low down, will you?"

"No, I'll have to keep pretty well up," was the answer.
"There's a current of air over that fire which might turn us

Heat creates a draft, sucking in colder air from below, and
making an upward-rushing column which, in the case of a big
blaze, is very powerful. Tom knew he had to avoid this.

It was now almost time to act. In another few seconds they
would be sailing directly into the path of the up-spouting
flames. Realizing that to do this at too low an elevation would
result in disaster, Tom sent his craft upward at a sharp angle.
Then he turned to call to his companions.

"Be ready when I give the word!"

"All set and ready!" answered Ned, and the others signified
their attention to the command that soon was to be given.

Having attained what he considered a sufficient elevation, Tom
headed the Lucifer straight toward the up-spouting column of fire
and smoke. If ever his craft of the air was to justify her name
it was now!

Straight and true as an arrow she headed for the fiery pillar!
Hotter and hotter grew the air! The darkness of the night was
lighted by the awful fire, which rendered objects in the street
clear and distinct. But Tom and his friends had little time for
such observation.

"Get ready!" cried the young inventor, as he felt a rush of
heat across his face, partly protected, as it was, by great

"All ready!" shouted Ned.

"Let go!" cried Tom, and with a click of springs the fire
extinguishers dropped from the bottom of the Lucifer into the
very heart of the flames in the Landmark Building.

There was a blast as from a furnace seventy times heated, a
choking and gasping for breath on the part of the occupants of
the airship, a shriveling, as it seemed, of the naked flesh, and
then, when it appeared that all of them must be engulfed in the
great heat, the airship passed out of the zone of fire.

A rush of cool air followed, reviving them all, and then, when
out of the swirls of smoke, Ned, looking back, cried:

"Good work, Tom! Good work!"

"Did we hit it?" cried the young inventor. "She's half gone!"
declared Mr. Baxter. "Can you give her the rest of the load?"

"I'm going to try!" declared Tom.

"Bless my bank balance!" shouted Mr. Damon, "are we going
through that awful furnace again?"

"It will not be so bad this time," observed Ned. "The fire is
half out now. Tom's stuff did the trick!"

Indeed it was evident, as Tom sent the Lucifer around in a
sharp turn, that the fire had been largely smothered by the gas
that now lay over it like a wet blanket. But there was still some
fire spouting up.

"Give her all we have!" yelled Tom, as, once more, he prepared
to cross the zone of fire.

"Right," sang out Ned.

Once more the Lucifer swept over the burning building. Down
shot the remaining grenades, falling into the mass of flames and
bursting, though the reports could not be heard because of the
tumult in the streets below. For the firemen and spectators had
seen the sudden dying down of the fire, they had caught sight of
a shadowy shape in the night, hovering over the blazing building,
and they wondered what it all meant.

"How is it?" asked Tom, as he guided the craft back to get a
view of his work.

"That settles it!" answered Ned. "There isn't fire enough now
to broil a beefsteak!"

This was not exactly true, for the blaze was not entirely
subdued. But the flames had all been killed off in the higher
parts of the Landmark Building, and what remained could easily be
dealt with by the firemen on the ground. They proceeded to make
short work of the remainder of the conflagration, the while
wondering who had so effectively aided them from the clouds.

"Well," observed Tom, as he saw how effectively he had
smothered the great fire, "it's of no use to go on now. I haven't
an ounce of chemical left on board. I can't give the
demonstration that I planned for tomorrow."

"You've given a better demonstration here than you ever could
have in the other city," declared Mr. Baxter. "I fancy this will
be all the test needed, Tom Swift!"

"Perhaps. I hope so. But we may as well land and see from the
ground the effect of our work. I'd also like to inquire if any
one was hurt. Let's go down."

It was rather ticklish work, making a landing in the midst of a
populous city, and at night. But as it happened, there had been a
number of buildings razed in the vicinity of the Landmark
structure, and there was a large, vacant level space. Also
several of the city's fire department searchlights were focused
around the burning structure, and when it became evident that an
airship was going to land--though as yet none guessed whose it
was--the searchlights were turned on the vacant spot and Tom was
able to make a good landing, his own powerful searchlight giving
effective aid.

"What did you do that put out the fire?" demanded the chief of
the Newmarket department, as he rushed up with a crowd of others
when Tom and his friends alighted.

"I dropped a few grenades down that chimney," modestly answered
the young inventor.

"A few grenades! Say, you must have turned a whole river of
them loose!" cried the delighted chief. "It doused the fire
quicker than I ever saw one put out in all my life!"

"I'm glad I was successful," said Tom. "But was any one in the

"Yes, a few," answered a policeman, who was trying to keep the
crowd back from the airship. "They're bringing them out now."

"Killed?" gasped Tom.

"No. But some of them are badly hurt," the officer answered.
"There was one young lady and a man named Barton Keith--"

"Barton Keith!" shouted Tom, springing forward. "Was he--Who
was the young lady? I--I--"

But at that moment there was a stir in the crowd about the
building, in which only a little fire flow remained, and through
the throng came a disheveled and smoke-blackened young lady and a
man whose clothing was also greatly disarrayed.

"Mary!" cried the young inventor.

"Tom!" gasped Mary Nestor. "How did you get here?"

"I came to put out the fire," was the answer, and Tom cooled
down now that he saw Mary was unharmed. "How did you happen to be
in the building?"

"I was in Uncle Barton's office when the fire broke out,"
answered Mary, "and we were trapped. We had to stay there, with
two men from the floor above."

"Yes, and if they had stayed with us they wouldn't have been
hurt," said Mr. Keith. "But, as it was, they rushed out and tried
to get down the stairs. They were caught in the draft and badly
burned, I believe. They are bringing them out now."

Two stretchers, on which lay inert forms, were borne through
the now silent crowd by firemen and police officers, and taken to
waiting ambulances.

"That's Field and Melling," said Mr. Keith to Tom. "They had
offices just above me, and they were trapped, as were Mary and I.
They acted like big cowards, too, though I hope they're not badly
hurt. We stayed inside my office, and we were just giving up the
hope of rescue when the fire seemed suddenly to die down."

"I should say it was sudden!" cried the enthusiastic local
chief. "It was the chemicals from this young man's airship that
did the trick!"

"Oh, Tom, was it your new machine?" asked Mary.

"Yes," was the answer. "I was on my way to give a test tomorrow
in Denton when I saw this fire. I didn't know you were in it,
though, Mary."

"Oh, but I'm glad you came," she said. "It was just--awful!"
and she clung to Tom's arm, trembling.

When Field and Melling, whose rash conduct had caused them to
be severely but not fatally burned, had been taken to a hospital
and the fire was declared to be practically out, Tom made
arrangements to leave his airship in the city field all night.

"And you and your friends can come to Uncle Jasper's house,"
said Mary.

"Of course!" said Uncle Jasper himself, who had arrived on the
scene, attracted to the fire by the news that his niece and Mr.
Keith were in danger. "Lots of room! Come along! We'll celebrate
your rescue

So the crew of the fire-fighting Lucifer went with Mary, while
the firemen, after again thanking Tom most enthusiastically, kept
on playing, as a precaution, their streams of water on the still
hot building.

Only the central portion of the structure, the stairs and
elevator shafts, were burned away. The strong upward draft had
kept the fire from spreading much to either side.

"It certainly was a fierce blaze, and I'm glad my chemicals
took such prompt effect," said Tom. "I shall not fear any test
after this."

It was the day following the night of excitement, and Tom and
his friends, at the invitation of the fire department of
Newmarket, were inspecting what was left of the Landmark Building
--and there was considerable left--though access to the upper
floors was to be had only by ladders, down which Mary and her
uncle, Barton Keith, had been carried.

"Here are my offices," said Mr. Keith, who accompanied Tom,
Ned, Mr. Damon and Mr. Baxter, as he ushered them into his suite
of rooms.

"Bless my fountain pen! nothing is burned here," cried the
eccentric man.

"No, the flames just shot upward," explained the fire chief,
who was leading the party. "But I think those chemicals of yours
would have been just as effective, Mr. Swift, if the fire had
mushroomed out more."

"It was hot enough as it was," answered Tom, with a grim laugh.

"Bless my thermometer, too hot--too hot by far!" exclaimed Tom
Swift's eccentric friend, and to this Ned nodded an amused

An exclamation from Mr. Baxter attracted the attention of all
in Mr. Keith's office. The chemist picked up from the floor a
bundle of papers.

"Here is a bundle of documents that some one has dropped, Mr.
Keith," he said. "I guess you forgot to put it in your safe. Why
--why--no--they aren't yours! They're mine. Here are my missing
dye formulae! The secret papers I've been searching for so long!
The ones I thought Field and Melling had!" cried Mr. Baxter.
"How--how did they get here?" and, wonderingly, he looked at the
bundle of papers he had discovered in such a strange manner.



"What's that? Your dye formulae here in my office?" cried Mr.
Keith, for he had heard something of the chemist's loss, though
he did not directly associate Field and Melling with it.

"That's what this is! The very papers, containing all the rare
secrets, for which I have been so at a loss!" cried the delighted
old man. "Now I can give to the world the dyes for which it has
long been waiting! Oh, Tom Swift, you did more than you knew when
you put out this fire!" and he hugged the bundle of smoke-
smelling papers to his breast.

"But how did they get here?" asked the young inventor. "I know
that Field and Melling had offices in this building. They were
starting a new dye concern, and, though Mr. Baxter and I
suspected them of having stolen his secret, we couldn't prove

"But we can now!" cried Mr. Baxter. "Though I don't know that
I'll bother even to accuse them, as long as I have back my
previous papers. I see how it happened. They had the formulae in
their office. They rushed out with the documents, and, when they
found they couldn't get past this floor, they went into Mr.
Keith's office. There, in their excitement, they dropped the
papers, and you put the fire out just in time, Tom, or they'd
have been burned beyond hope of saving. You have given me back
something almost as valuable as life, Tom Swift!"

"I'm glad I could render you that service," said the young
inventor. "And I had no idea, when I dropped the chemicals, that
I was saving someone even more valuable than your secret
formulae," and they all knew he referred to Mary Nestor.

An examination of the papers found on Mr. Keith's office floor
showed that not one of the dye secrets was missing. Thus Mr.
Baxter came into possession of his own again, and when Field and
Melling were sufficiently recovered they were charged with the
theft of the papers. The charge was proved, and, in addition,
other accusations were brought against them which insured their
remainder in jail for a considerable period.

As Mr. Baxter had suspected, Field and Melling had, indeed,
robbed him of his dye formulae papers. They learned that he
possessed them, and they invited him to a night conference with
the purpose of robbing him. The fire in their factory was an
accident, of which they took advantage to make it appear that the
chemist lost his papers in the blaze. But they had taken them,
and though they did not mean to leave poor Baxter to his fate,
that would have been the result of their selfish action had not
Tom and Ned come to the rescue. And it was of this "putting over"
that Field and Melling had boasted, the time Tom overheard their
talk at Meadow Inn.

As Mr. Baxter guessed, the letter delivered to him at Tom's
place was one that the two scoundrels would have retained, as
they had others like it, if they had seen it. But a new clerk
forwarded it, and the evidence it contained helped to convict
Field and Melling.

As for the Landmark Building, while badly damaged, it would
have been worse burned but for Tom's prompt action. And though he
was more than glad that he had been on hand, he rather regretted
that he could not give the test for which he had set out.

Eventually the building was made more nearly fire-proof and the
fire-escapes were rebuilt, and Mr. Blake did not lose his money,
as he had feared, though Barton Keith said it was more owing to
Tom Swift's good luck than to Mr. Blake's management.

But, as it developed, nothing could have been more opportune
than Tom's action, for word of his quenching a bigger blaze than
he would have had to encounter in the official test reached the
Denton fire department. As a result there was a conference, and,
after only a nominal showing of his apparatus, it was adopted by
a unanimous vote.

But this occurred some time afterward, for, following his
rescue of Mary Nestor and her uncle and the saving of the lives
of Field and Melling, as well as others in the building, by his
prompt smothering of the fire, Tom returned to Shopton.

He and his companions went in the Lucifer, minus, now, the big
load of chemicals, and on landing near the hangar Tom was
surprised to see Koku the giant running toward him. The big man
showed every symptom of great excitement as he cried:

"Oh, Master Tom! He see the light ob day! he see the light ob
day now! Oh, so glad! So glad!"

"Who sees the light of day?" asked the young inventor.

"Black Rad! Eradicate! Him eyes all better now! Pill man take
off cloth. Rad--he see light ob day!"

"Oh, I'm so glad! So thankful!" cried Tom. "How I've wished for
this! Is it really true, Koku?"

"Sure true! Pill man say Rad see K O now." The giant,
doubtless, meant "O K," but Tom understood. And it was true, as
he learned more directly a little later.

When Tom entered the room where Rad had been kept in the dark
ever since the explosion, the colored man looked at his master
with seeing eyes, though the apartment was still but dimly

"I's all right ag'in now, Massa Tom!" cried Rad. "See fine! I's
all ready to make more smellin' stuff to put out fires!"

"You won't have to, Rad!" cried Tom joyfully. "My chemical
extinguisher is completed, and you did your share in making it a
success. But I never would have felt like claiming credit for it
if you had been--had been left in the dark."

"No mo' dark, Massa Tom!" said Eradicate. "I kin see now as
good as eber, an' yo'-all won't hab to 'pend on dat lazy good-
fo'-nuffin cocoanut!" and he chuckled as he looked at the giant.

"Huh! Lazy!" retorted the big man. "I show you--black coon!"

"By golly!" laughed Rad. "Him an' me good friends now, Massa
Tom. Neber I fuss wif Koku any mo'! He suah was good to me when I
had to stay in de dark!"

Of course it would be too much to hope that Koku and Eradicate
never again quarreled, but for a long time their warm friendship
was a thing at which to marvel, considering the past.

"Well, I guess this settles it," said Tom to Ned one day, after
going over the day's mail.

"Settles what, Tom?"

"My aerial fire-fighting apparatus. Here's word from the
National Fire Underwriters Association that they have adopted it,
and there will be a big reduction of rates in all cities where it
is a part of the fire department equipment. It's been as great a
success as Mr. Baxter's new dye."

"Yes, and he has had wonderful success with that. But what are
you going to do now, Tom? What new line of endeavor are you going
to aim at?"

Tom arose and reached for his hat.

"I am now going," he said, with a grin, "to see somebody on
private business."

"You are going to see Mary Nestor!" broke out Ned.

"I am," said Tom.

And he did.


Uniform Style of Binding. Individual Colored Wrappers.
Every Volume Complete in Itself.

Every boy possesses some form of inventive genius. Tom Swift is
a bright, ingenious boy and his inventions and adventures make
the most interesting kind of reading.



Individual Colored Wrappers and Text Illustrations by
Every Volume Complete in Itself.

In company with his uncles, one a mighty hunter and the other a
noted scientist, Don Sturdy travels far and wide, gaining much
useful knowledge and meeting many thrilling adventures.


An engrossing tale of the Sahara Desert, of encounters with
wild animals and crafty Arabs.


Don's uncle, the hunter, took an order for some of the biggest
snakes to be found in South America--to be delivered alive!


A fascinating tale of exploration and adventure in the Valley
of Kings in Egypt.


A great polar blizzard nearly wrecks the airship of the


An absorbing tale of adventures among the volcanoes of Alaska.


This story is just full of exciting and fearful experiences on
the sea.


A thrilling story of adventure in darkest Africa. Don is
carried over a mighty waterfall into the heart of gorilla land.

(Trademark Registered)
Author of the "Railroad Series," Etc.

Individual Colored Wrappers. Illustrated.
Every Volume Complete in itself.

A new series for boys giving full details of radio work, both in
sending and receiving--telling how small and large amateur sets
can be made and operated, and how some boys got a lot of fun and
adventure out of what they did. Each volume from first to last is
so thoroughly fascinating, so strictly up-to-date and accurate,
we feel sure all lads will peruse them with great delight.

Each volume has a Foreword by Jack Binns, the well-known radio


Author of the "Radio Boys," Etc.

Uniform Style of Binding, illustrated.
Every Volume Complete in Itself.

In this line of books there is revealed the whole workings of a
great American railroad system. There are adventures in
abundance--railroad wrecks, dashes through forest fires, the
pursuit of a "wildcat" locomotive, the disappearance of a pay car
with a large sum of money on board--but there is much more than
this--the intense rivalry among railroads and railroad men, the
working out of running schedules, the getting through "on time"
in spite of all obstacles, and the manipulation of railroad
securities by evil men who wish to rule or ruin.

Or, Bound to Become a Railroad Man.

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest