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Tom Swift And His Electric Runabout by Victor Appleton

Part 2 out of 3

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your accusation?"

"He's a regular snob, that's what's the trouble," answered
Andy Foger, though whether he was "Brother Number One," did not
appear. "He's too fresh and--and--"

"I'll make you wish you felt fresh when I get hold of you,
Andy," murmured Tom.

"Quiet!" cried a tall lad. "What's the next charge?"

"He keeps an old colored man on guard at his place," was the
answer, and Tom had no difficulty in recognizing the voice of Sid
Holton. "The coon throws whitewash all over us. I got some of

"You wouldn't have, if you'd minded your own business,"
retorted Tom. "It served you right!"

"What is the verdict on the prisoner?" asked one who seemed to
be the leader.

"I say let's tar and feather him!" cried Andy suddenly.
"There's a barrel of tar back in the woods here, and we can get
some feathers from a chicken coop. That would make him so he
wouldn't be so uppish, I guess!"

"That's right! Tar and feathers!" exclaimed several.

Our hero's heart sank. He was not afraid, but he did not relish
the indignity that was proposed. He resolved to fight to the last
ounce of his strength against the masked lads.

"Can we get a kettle to heat the tar in?" asked some one.

"We'll find one," answered Sam Snedecker. "Come on, let's do
it. You'll look pretty, Tom Swift, when we're through with you,"
he exulted.

Tom did not answer, but there was fierce anger in his heart.
The tar and feather proposal seemed to meet with general favor.

"Members of the Deep Forest Throng, we will hold a
consultation," proposed the leader, in his assumed deep voice.
"Come over here, to one side. Brother Number Six, guard the
prisoner well."

"There ain't no need to," answered a lad who had been
instructed to mount guard over Tom. "He's tied so tight he can't
move. I want to hear what you say."

"Very well then," assented the leader, "But look to his

The lad made a hasty examination of the ropes binding the young
inventor to the tree, and Tom was glad that the examination was a
hasty one. For he feared the guard might discover that one hand
had been worked nearly free. The young inventor had done this
while he leered at his captors.

Tom was not going to submit tamely to the nonsense, and from
the moment he had been tied, he had been trying to get loose. He
had nearly succeeded in freeing one hand when the crowd of masked
boys moved off to one side, where they presently began to talk in
excited whispers.

"I wonder how they came to catch me," thought the prisoner, as
he worked feverishly to further loosen the ropes. "This looks as
if it was a put-up job, with the masks, and everything." Later
he learned that the idea was the outcome of a proposal of one of
the new arrivals in town. He had organized the "Deep Forest
Throng," as a sort of secret society, and Andy and his cronies
had been induced to join. It was Andy's proposal to capture Tom,
though, and, having seen him depart for Mansburg on his motor-
cycle, and knowing that he would return along a road that ran
near the woods where the Throng met, suggested that they take Tom
captive. The idea was enthusiastically received, and Andy and his
cronies thought they saw a chance to be revenged.

Tom, while he picked at the ropes, listened to what the boys
were saying. He heard frequent mention of tar and feathers, and
began to believe, that unless he could get free, while they were
off there consulting, he might be forced to submit to the
humiliating ordeal.

He managed to get one hand comparatively free, so that he could
move it about, but then he struck several hard knots, and could
make no further progress. The conference seemed on the point of
breaking up.

"One of you go for a big kettle to boil the tar in," ordered
the leader, "and the rest of you dig up some feathers."

"I must get loose!" thought Tom desperately. "If they try to
tar and feather me it will be a risky business. I've got to get
loose! They may burn me severely!"

But, though he tried with all his strength, the ropes would not
loosen another bit. He had one hand free, and that was all. The
crowd was moving back toward him.

"My knife!" thought the captive quickly. "If I can reach that
in my pocket I can cut the ropes! Once I get loose I'll fight the
whole crowd!"

He managed to get his free hand into his pocket. His fingers
touched something. It was not his knife, and, for a moment he
felt a pang of disappointment. Then, as he realized what it was
that he had grasped, a new idea came to him.

"This will be better than the knife!" he thought exultantly.
The crowd of lads was now surrounding him, some distance from the
fire, which burned in front of the captive.

"Sentence has been passed upon you," remarked the leader.
"Prepare to meet thy doom! Get the materials, brothers!"

"One moment!" called Tom, for he wanted the crowd all present
to witness what he was about to do. "I'll give you one chance to
let me go peaceably. If you don't--"

"Well, what will you do?" demanded Andy sneeringly, as he
pulled his mask further over his face. "I guess you won't do
anything, Tom Swift."

"I'll give you one chance to let me go, and I'll agree to say
nothing about this joke," went on Tom. "If you don't I'll blow
this place up!"

For a moment there was a silence.

"Ha! Ha! Ho! Ho!" laughed Sam Snedecker. "Listen to him! He'll
blow the place up! I'd like to see you do it! You can't get loose
in the first place, and you haven't anything to blow it up with
in the second. I'd like to see you do it; hey, fellers?"

"Sure," came the answering chorus.

"Would you?" asked Tom quickly. "Then watch. Stand back if you
don't want to get hurt, and remember that I gave you a chance to
let me go!"

Tom made a rapid motion with the hand he had gotten loose. He
threw something to ward the blazing fire, which was now burning
well. Something white sailed through the air, and fell amid the
hot embers.

There was a moment's pause, and then a blinding flash of blue
fire lighted up the woods, and a dull rumble, as when gun-powder
is lighted in the open followed. A great cloud of white smoke
arose, as the vivid blue glare died away, and it seemed as if a
great wind swept over the place. Several of the masked lads were
knocked down by the explosion, and when the rumble died away, and
deep blackness succeeded the intense blue light, there came cries
of pain and terror. The fire had been scattered, and extinguished
by the explosion which Tom, though still bound to the tree had
caused to happen in the midst of the Deep Forest Throng. Then, as
the smoke rolled away, Andy Foger cried:

"Come on, fellows! Something's happened. I guess a volcano blew


The Deep Forest Throng needed no urging to flee from the place
of the mysterious explosion. Their prisoner, helpless as he had
seemed, had proved too much for them. Slipping and stumbling
along in the darkness, the masked lads had but one thought--to
get away before they saw more of that blue fire, and the force of
the concussion.

"Gee! My eyebrows are all singed off!" cried Sam Snedecker, as
he tore loose his mask which had been rent in the explosion, and
felt of his face.

"And my hands are burned," added Pete Bailey. "I stood closer
to the fire than any of you."

"You did not! I got the worst of it!" cried Andy. "I was
knocked down by the explosion, and I'll bet I'm hurt somewhere. I
guess--Oh! Help! I'm falling in a mud hole!"

There was a splash, and the bully disappeared from the sight of
his companions who, now that the moon had risen, could better see
to flee from their prisoner.

"Help me out, somebody!" pleaded Andy. "I'm in a mud hole!"

They pulled him out, a sorry looking sight, and the red-haired
lad, whose locks were now black with muck, began to lament his

"Dry up!" commanded Sid Holton. "It's all your fault, for
proposing such a fool trick as capturing Tom Swift. We might have
known he would get the best of us."

"What was that stuff he used, anyhow?" asked Cecil Hedden, the
lad responsible for the organization of the Deep Forest Throng.
"He must be a wonder. Does he do sleight-of-hand tricks?"

"He does all sorts of tricks," replied Pete Bailey, feeling of
a big lump on his head, caused by falling on a stone in the mad
rush. "I guess we were chumps to tackle him. He must have put
some kind of chemical in the fire, to make it blow up."

"Or else he summoned his airship by wireless, and had that
balloonist, Mr. Sharp, drop a bomb in the blaze," suggested
another lad.

"But how could he do anything? Wasn't he tied fast to that
tree?" asked Cecil, the leader.

"You never know when you've got Tom Swift tied," declared Jack
Reynolds. "You think you've got him, and you haven't. He's too
slick for us. It's Andy's fault, for proposing to capture him."

"That's right! Blame it all on me," whined the squint-eyed
bully. "You was just as anxious as I was to tar and feather him."

"Well, we didn't do it," commented Pete Bailey, dryly. "I
s'pose he's loose now, laughin' at us. Gee, but that was an
explosion though! It's a wonder some of us weren't killed! I
guess I've had enough of this Deep Forest Throng business. No
more for mine."

"Aw, don't be afraid," urged Cecil. "The next time we get him
we'll be on our guard."

"You'll never catch Tom Swift again," predicted Pete.

"I'll go back now to where he is, if you will," agreed Cecil,
who was older than the others.

"Not much!" cried Pete. "I've had enough."

This seemed to be the sentiment of all. Away they stumbled
through the woods, and, emerging on the road, scattered to their
several homes, not one but who suffered from slight burns,
contusions, torn and muddy clothes or injured feelings as the
outcome of the "joke" on the young inventor.

But our hero was not yet free from the bonds of his enemies.
When they scattered and ran, after the vivid blue light, and the
dull explosion, which, being unconfined, did no real damage, Tom
was still fast to the tree. As his eyes became accustomed to the
semi-darkness that followed the glare, he remarked:

"Well, I don't know that I'm much better off. I gave those
fellows a good scare, but I'm not loose. But I can work to better
advantage now."

Once more he resumed the effort to free himself, but in spite
of the crude manner in which the knots had been made, the lad
could not get loose. The more he pulled and tugged the tighter
they seemed to become.

"This is getting serious," Tom mused. "If I could only reach my
knife I could cut them, but it's in my pocket on the other side,
and that bond's fast. Guess I'll have to stay here all night.
Maybe I'd better call for help, but--"

His words, spoken half aloud, were suddenly interrupted by a
crash in the underbrush. Somebody was approaching. At first Tom
thought it was Andy and his cronies coming back, but a voice that
called a moment later proved that this was not so.

"Is any one here?" shouted a man. "Any one hurt? What was that
fire and explosion?"

"I'm here," replied Tom. "I'm not hurt exactly, but I'm tied to
a tree. I'll be much obliged if you'll loosen me."

"Who are you?"

"Tom Swift. Is that you, Mr. Mason?"

"Yes. By jinks! I never expected to find you here, Tom. Over
this way, men," he added calling aloud. "I've found him; it's Tom

There was the flicker of several lanterns amid the trees, and
soon a number of men had joined Mr. Mason, and surrounded Tom.
They were farmers living in the neighborhood.

"What in the name o' Tunket happened?" asked one. "Did you get
hit by a meteor or a comet? Who tied you up; highwaymen?"

"Cut him loose first, and ask questions afterward," suggested
Mr. Mason.

"Yes," added Tom, with a laugh, "I wish you would. I'm
beginning to feel cramped."

With their knives, the farmers quickly cut the ropes, and some
of them rubbed the arms of the lad to restore the circulation.

"What was it--highwaymen?" asked a man, unable to longer
restrain his curiosity. "Did they rob you?"

"No, it wasn't highwaymen," replied the youth. "It was a trick
of some boys I know," and to Tom's credit be it said that he did
not mention their names. "They did it for a joke," he added.

"Boys' trick? Joke?" queried Mr. Mason. "Pretty queer sort of a
joke, I think. They ought to be arrested."

"Oh, I fancy I gave them what was coming to them," went on the
young inventor.

"Did they try to blow ye up, too?" asked Mr. Hertford. "What in
th' name of Tunket was that blue light, and that explosion? I
heard it an' saw it way over to my house."

"So did I," remarked Mr. Mason, and several others said the
same thing. "We thought a meteor had fallen," he continued, "and
we got together to make an investigation."

"It's a good thing for me you did," admitted Tom, "or I might
have had to stay here all night."

"But was it a meteor?" insisted Mr. Hertford.

"No," replied the lad, "I did it."


"Yes. You see after they tied me I found I could get one hand
free. I reached in my pocket for my knife, but instead of it I
managed to get hold of a package of powder I had."

"Gunpowder?" asked Mr. Mason.

"No, a chemical powder I use in an electrical battery. The
powder explodes in fire, and makes quite a blue flash, and a lot
of smoke, but it isn't very dangerous, otherwise I wouldn't have
used it. When the boys were some distance away from the fire, I
threw the powder in the blaze. It went off in a moment, and--"

"I guess they run some; didn't they?" asked Mr. Mason with a

"They certainly did," agreed Tom.


The young inventor told more details of his adventure in the
woods, but, though the farmers questioned him closely, he would
not give a single name of his assailants.

"But I should think you'd want to have them punished," remarked
Mr. Mason.

"I'll attend to that part later," answered Tom. "Besides, most
of them didn't know what they were doing. They were led on by one
or two. No, I'll fight my own battles. But I wish you'd lend me a
lantern long enough to find my motor-cycle. The moon doesn't give
much light in the woods, and those fellows may have hidden my

Mr. Mason and his companions readily agreed to accompany Tom on
a search for his wheel. It was found just where he had dismounted
from it in the road. Andy and his cronies had evidently had
enough of their encounter with our hero, and did not dare to
annoy him further.

"Do you think you can ride home?" asked one of the farmers of
the lad, when he had ascertained that his machine was in running

"Well, it's risky without my lantern," answered Tom. "They
smashed that for me. But I guess I can manage."

"No, you can't!" insisted Mr. Mason. "You're stiff from being
tied up; and you can't ride. Now you just wheel that contraption
over to my place, and I'll hitch up and take you home. It isn't

"Oh, I couldn't think of troubling you," declared Tom. At the
same time he felt that he was in no condition to ride.

"It's no trouble at all," insisted Mr. Mason. "I guess your
father and I are good enough friends to allow me to have my way.
You can come over and get your choo-choo bicycle in the morning."

A little later Tom was being rapidly driven toward his home,
where he found his father and Mrs. Baggert, to say nothing of Mr.
Sharp, somewhat alarmed over his absence, as it was getting late.
The youth told as much of his adventure as he thought would not
alarm his father, making a sort of joke of it, and, later,
related all the details to the balloonist.

"We'll have to get after Andy again," declared the aeronaut.
"He needs another toning down."

"Yes, similar to the one he got when we nearly ran away with
his automobile, by catching the airship anchor on it," added Tom
with a laugh. "But I fancy Andy will steer clear of me for a
while. I'm sorry I had to use up that chemical powder, though.
Now I can't start my battery until to-morrow." But the next day
Tom made up for lost time, by working from early until late. He
went over to Mr. Mason's, got his motor-cycle, procured some more
of the chemical, and soon had his storage battery in running
order. Then he arranged for a more severe test, and while that
was going on he worked at completing the body of the electric
runabout. The vehicle was beginning to look like a car, though it
was not of the regulation pattern.

For the next week Tom was very busy, so occupied, in fact, that
he scarcely took time for his meals, which caused Mrs. Baggert no
little worriment, for she was a housekeeper who liked to see
others enjoy her cooking.

"Well, Tom, how are you coming on?" asked his father one night,
as they sat on the porch, Mr. Sharp with them.

"Pretty well, Dad," was the answer of the young inventor. "I'll
put the wheels on tomorrow, and then set the batteries. I've got
the motor all finished; and all I'll have to do will be to
connect it up, and then I'll be ready for a trial on the road."

"And you still think you'll beat all records?"

"I'm pretty sure of it, Dad. You see the amperage will be
exceptionally high, and my batteries will have a large amount of
reserve, with little internal resistance. But do you know I'm so
tired I can hardly think. It's more of a job than I thought it
would be."

Tom, a little later, strolled down the road. As he turned back
toward the house and walked up the shrubbery lined path he heard
a noise.

"Some one's hiding in there!" thought the lad, and he darted to
an opening in the hedge to reach the other side. As he did so he
saw a figure running away. Whether it was a man or a boy he could
not tell in the darkness.

"Hold on there!" cried the young inventor, but, naturally, the
fleeing one did not stop. Tom began to sprint, and as it was
slightly down hill, he made good time. The figure ahead of him
was running well, too, but Tom who could see better, now that he
was out from under the trees, noticed that he was gaining. The
fleeing one came to a little brook, and hesitated a moment before
leaping across. This enabled Tom to catch up, and he made a grab
for the figure, just as the man or boy sprang across the little

Tom missed his grip, but he was not going to give up. He
scarcely slackened his speed, but, with the momentum he had
acquired in racing down the hill, he, too, leaped across the
brook. As he landed on the other side he made another grab for
the figure, a man, as Tom could now see, but he could make out no
features, as the person's hat was pulled down over his face.

"I've got you now!" cried Tom exultantly, reaching out his
hand. His fingers clutched something, but the next instant the
young inventor went sprawling. The other had put out his foot,
and tripped him neatly and, Tom throwing out his hands to save
himself in the fall that was inevitable, went splashing into the
brook at full length. The unknown, pausing a moment to view what
he had done, turned quickly and raced off in the darkness.


More surprised than hurt, and with a feeling of chagrin and
anger at the trick which had been played on him, Tom managed to
scramble out of the brook. The water was not deep, but he had
splashed in with such force that he was wet all over. And, as he
got up, the water drip-ping from his clothes, the lad was
conscious of a pain in his head. He put up his hand, and found
that contact with a stone had raised a large lump on his
forehead. It was as big as a hen's egg.

"Humph! I'll be a pretty sight to-morrow," murmured Tom. "I
wonder who that fellow was, anyhow, and what he wanted? He
tripped me neatly enough, whoever he was. I've a good notion to
keep on after him."

Then, as he realized what a start the fleeing one had, the
young inventor knew that it would be fruitless to renew the
chase. Slowly he ascended the sloping bank, and started for home.
As he did so he realized that he had, clasped in his fingers,
something he had grabbed from the person he was pursuing just
before his unlucky tumble.

"It's part of his watch chain!" exclaimed Tom, as he felt of
the article. "I must have ripped it loose when I fell. Wonder
what it is? Evidently some sort of a charm. Maybe it will be a
clue." He tried to discern of what style it was, but in the dark
woods this was impossible. Then the lad tried to strike a match,
but those in his pocket had become wet from his unexpected bath.
"I'll have to wait until I get home," he went on, and he hastened
his steps, for he was anxious to see what he had torn loose from
the person who appeared to be spying on him.

"Why Tom, what's the matter?" exclaimed Mrs. Baggert, when he
entered the kitchen, dripping water at every step. "Is it raining
outside? I didn't hear any storm."

"It was raining where I was," replied Tom angrily. "I fell in
the brook. It was so hot I thought I'd cool off."

"With your best suit on!" ejaculated the housekeeper.

"It isn't my best," retorted the lad. "But I went in before I
thought. It was an accident; I fell," he added, lest Mrs. Baggert
take his joking remarks seriously. He did not want to tell her of
the chase.

The chief concern of the lad now was to look at the charm and,
as soon as Mrs. Baggert's attention was attracted elsewhere, Tom
glanced at the object he still held tightly clenched in his hand.
As the light from the kitchen fell upon it he could hardly
repress an exclamation of astonishment.

For the charm that he held in his hand was one he had seen
before dangling from the watch chain of Addison Berg, the agent
for Bentley & Eagert, submarine boat builders, which firm had, as
told in "Tom Swift and His Submarine," tried unsuccessfully to
secure the gold treasure from the sunken wreck. Berg and his
associates had even gone so far as to try to disable the Advance,
the boat of Tom and his father, by ramming her when deep down
under the ocean, but Mr. Swift's use of an electric cannon had
broken the steering gear of the Wonder, the rival craft, and from
that time on Tom and his friends had a clear field to search for
the bullion held fast in the hold of the Boldero. "Addison Berg,"
murmured Tom, as he looked at the watch charm. "What can he be
doing in this neighborhood? Hiding, too, as if he wanted to
overhear something. That's the way he did when we were building
our submarine, and now he's up to the same trick when I'm
constructing my electric car. I'm sure this charm is his. It is
such a peculiar design that I'm positive I can't be mistaken. I
thought, when I was chasing after him, that it would turn out to
be Andy Foger, or some of the boys, but it was too big for them.
Addison Berg, eh? What can he be doing around here? I must not
tell Dad, or he'd worry himself sick. But I must be on my guard."

Tom examined the charm closely. It was a compass, but made in
an odd form, and was much ornamented.

The young inventor had noticed it on several occasions when he
had been in conversation with Mr. Berg previous to the attempt on
the part of the owners of the rival submarine to wreck Tom's
boat. He felt that he could not be mistaken in identifying the

"Berg was afraid I'd catch him, and ask for an explanation that
would have been awkward to make," thought the lad, as he turned
the charm over in his hand. "That's why he tripped me up. But
I'll get at the bottom of this yet. Maybe he wants to steal my
ideas for an electric car."

Tom's musings were suddenly interrupted by Mrs. Baggert.

"I hope you're not going to stand there all night," she said,
with a laugh. "You're in the middle of a puddle now, but when you
get over dreaming I'd like to mop it up."

"All right," agreed the young inventor, coming to himself
suddenly. "Guess I'd better go get some dry clothes on."

"You'd better go to bed," advised Mrs. Baggert. "That's where
your father and Mr. Sharp are. It's late."

The more Tom thought over the strange occurrence the more it
puzzled him. He mused over the presence of Berg as he went about
his work the next day, for that it was the agent whom he had
pursued he felt positive.

"But I can't figure out why he was hanging around here," mused

Then, as he found that his thoughts over the matter were
interfering with his work, he resolutely put them from him, and
threw himself energetically into the labor of completing his
electric car. The new batteries, he found, were working well, and
in the next two days he had constructed several more, joining
them so as to get the combined effect.

It was the afternoon of the third day from Tom's unexpected
fall into the brook that the young inventor decided on the first
important test of his new device. He was going to try the motor,
running it with his storage battery. Some of the connections were
already in place, the wires being fastened to the side of the
shop, where they were attached to switches. Tom did not go over
these, taking it for granted that they were all right. He soon
had the motor, which he was to install in his car, wired to the
battery, and then he attached a gauge, to ascertain, by
comparison, how many miles he could hope to travel on one
charging of the storage battery.

"Guess I'll call Dad and Mr. Sharp in to see how it works,
before I turn on the current," he said to himself. He was about
to summon his parent and the aeronaut from an adjoining shop,
where they were working over a new form of dynamo, when the lad
caught sight of the watch charm he had left on his desk, in plain

"Better put that away," he remarked. "Dad or Mr. Sharp might
see it, and ask questions. Then I'd have to explain, and I don't
want to, not until I get further toward the bottom of this

He put the charm away, and then summoned his father and the

"You're going to see a fine experiment," declared Tom. "I'm
going to turn on the full strength of my battery."

"Are you sure it's all right, Tom?" asked his father. "You
can't be too careful when you're dealing with electricity of high
voltage, and great ampere strength.

"Oh, it's all right, Dad," his son assured him "Now watch my
motor hum."

He walked over to a big copper switch, and grasped the black
rubber handle to pull it over which would send the current from
the storage battery into the combination of wheels and gears that
he hoped, ultimately, would propel his electric automobile along
the highways, or on a track, at the rate of a hundred miles an

"Here she goes!" cried Tom. For an instant he hesitated and
then pulled the switch. At the same time his hand rested on
another wire, stretched across a bench.

No sooner had the switch closed than there was a blinding
flash, a report as of a gun being fired, and Tom's body seemed to
straighten out. Then a blue flame appeared to encircle him and he
dropped to the floor of the shop, an inert mass.

"He's killed!" cried Mr. Swift, springing forward.

"Careful!" cautioned the balloonist. "He's been shocked! Don't
touch him until I turn off the current!" As he pulled out the
switch, the aeronaut gave a glance at the apparatus.

"There's something wrong here!" he cried. "The wires have been
crossed! That's what shocked Tom, but he never made the wrong
connections! He's too good an electrician! There's been some one
in this shop, changing the wires!"


Once the current was cut off it was safe to approach the body
of the young inventor. Mr Sharp stooped over and lifted Tom's
form from the floor, for Mr. Swift was too excited and trembled
too much to be of any service. Our hero was as one dead. His body
was limp, after that first rigid stretching out, as the current
ran through him; his eyes were closed, and his face was very

"Is--is there any hope?" faltered Mr. Swift.

"I think so," replied the balloonist. "He is still breathing-
faintly. We must summon a doctor at once. Will you telephone for
one, while I carry him in the house?"

As Mr. Sharp emerged from the shop, bearing Tom's body, an
automobile drew up in front of the place.

"Bless my soul!" exclaimed a voice. "Tom's hurt! How did it
happen? Bless my very existence!"

"Oh, Mr. Damon, you're just in time!" exclaimed Mr. Sharp,
"Tom's had a bad shock. Will you go for a doctor in your auto?"

"Better than that! Let me take Tom in the car to Dr.
Whiteside's office," proposed the eccentric man. "It will be
better that way."

"Yes, yes," agreed Mr. Swift eagerly. "Put Tom in the auto!"

"If only it doesn't break down," added Mr. Damon fervently.
"Bless my spark plug, but it would be just my luck!"

But they started off all right, Mr. Swift riding in front with
Mr. Damon, and Mr. Sharp supporting Tom in the tonneau. Only a
little fluttering of the eyelids, and a slow, faint breathing
told that Tom Swift still lived.

Mr. Damon never guided a car better than he did his auto that
day. Several speed laws were broken, but no one appeared to stop
them, and, in record time they had the young inventor at the
physician's house. Fortunately Dr. Whiteside was at home, and,
under his skillful treatment Tom was soon out of danger. His
heart action was properly started, and then it was only a
question of time. As the doctor had plenty of room it was decided
to let the lad remain that night, and Tom was soon installed in a
spare bedroom, with the doctor's pretty daughter to wait on him

"Oh, I'm all right," the youth insisted, when Miss Whiteside
told him it was time for his medicine. "I'm all right."

"You're not!" she declared. "I ought to know, for I'm going to
be a nurse, some day, and help papa. Now take this or I'll have
to hold your nose, as they do the baby's," and she held out a
spoonful of unpleasant looking mixture, extending her dainty
forefinger and thumb of her other hand, as if to administer dire
punishment to Tom, if he did not obey.

"Well, I give in to superior strength," he said with a laugh,
as he noted, with approval, the laughing face of his nurse.

Then he fell into a deep sleep, and was so much better the next
morning that he could be taken home in Mr. Damon's auto.

"But mind, no hard work for three or four days," insisted the
physician. "I want your heart to get in shape for that big race
you were telling me about. The shock was a severe strain to it."

Tom promised, reluctantly, and, though he did no work, his
first act, on reaching home, was to go out to the shop, to
inspect the battery and motor. To his surprise the motor was
running for the lad had established the connection, in spite of
his shock and his father and Mr. Sharp had decided to let the
machinery run until he came back.

"And look at the record it's made!" cried Tom delightedly as he
glanced at the gauge "Better than I figured on. That battery is a
wonder. I'll have the fastest electric runabout you ever saw."

"If the wires don't get crossed again," put in Mr. Sharp.
"You'd better make an examination, Tom," and, for the first time,
the young inventor learned how he had been shocked.

"Crossed wires! I should say they were crossed!" he exclaimed
as he looked at the switches and copper conductors. "Somebody has
been tampering with them. No wonder I was shocked!"

"Who did it?" asked Mr. Sharp.

Tom considered for a moment, before answering. Then he said:

"I believe it was Addison Berg. He must have wanted to do some
damage, to get even with us for getting that treasure away from

"Berg?" questioned the balloonist, and Tom told of the night he
had been tripped into the brook, and exhibited the watch charm he
had secured. Mr. Sharp recognized it at once. A further
examination confirmed the belief that the submarine agent had
sneaked into Tom's workshop, and had altered the wires.

"They were all right when I came out of the shop that night,"
declared Tom. "I left the old connections just as I thought I had
arranged them, and only added the new ones, when I went to try my
battery. The old connections were crossed, but I didn't notice
it. Then when I turned on the current I got the shock. I don't
s'pose Berg thought I'd be so nearly killed. Probably he wanted
to burn out my motor, and spoil it. If it was Andy Foger I could
understand it, but a man like Berg--"

"He's probably wild with anger because his submarine got the
worst of it in the race for the gold," interrupted the
balloonist. "Well, we'll have to be on our guard, that's all.
What was the matter with Eradicate, that he didn't see him enter
the shop?"

"Rad went to a colored dance that night," said Tom. "I let him
off. But after this I'll have the shop guarded night and day. My
motor might have been ruined, if that first charge hadn't gone
through my body instead of into the machinery." The improper
connections were soon removed and others substituted.

It was agreed between Tom and Mr. Sharp that they would say
nothing regarding Mr. Berg to Mr. Swift. The aeronaut caused
cautious inquiries to be made, and learned that the agent had
been discharged by the submarine firm, because of some wrong-
doing in connection with the craft Wonder, and it was surmised
that the agent believed Tom to be at the bottom of his troubles.

In a few days the young inventor was himself again, and as
further trials of his battery showed it to be even better than
its owner hoped, arrangements were made for testing it in the car
on the road.

The runabout was nearly finished, but it lacked a coat of
varnish, and some minor details, when Tom, assisted by his
father, Mr Sharp and Mr. Jackson, one morning, about a week
later, installed the motor and battery units. It did not take
long to gear up the machinery, connect the battery and, though
the car was rather a crude looking affair, Tom decided to give it
a try-out

"Want to come along, Dad?" he asked, as he tightened up some
binding posts, and looked to see that the steering wheel,
starting and reverse levers worked properly, and that the side
chains were well lubricated.

"Not the first time," replied his father. "Let's see how it
runs with you, first."

"Oh, I want some sort of a load in it," went on the lad. "It
won't be a good test unless I have a couple of others besides
myself. How about you, Mr. Damon?" for the old gentleman was
spending a few days at the Swift homestead.

"Bless my shoe buttons! I'll come!" was the ready answer.
"After the experience I've been through in the airship and
submarine, nothing can scare me. Lead on, I'll follow!"

"I don't suppose you'll hang back after that; will you, Mr.
Sharp?" asked the lad, with a laugh.

"I don't dare to, for the sake of my reputation," was the
reply, for the balloonist who had made many ascensions, and
dropped thousands of feet in parachutes, was naturally a brave

So he and Mr. Damon climbed into the rear seats of the odd-
looking electric car, while Tom took his place at the steering

"Are you all ready?" he asked.

"Let her go!" fired back Mr. Sharp.

"Bless my galvanometer, don't go too fast on the start,"
cautioned Mr. Damon, nervously.

"I'll not," agreed the young inventor. "I want to get it warmed
up before I try any speeding."

He turned on the current. There was a low, humming purr, which
gradually increased to a whine, and the car moved slowly forward.
It rolled along the gravel driveway to the road, Tom listening to
every sound of the machinery, as a mother listens to the
breathing of a child.

"She's moving!" he cried.

"But not much faster than a wheelbarrow," said his father, who
sometimes teased his son.

"Wait!" cried the youth.

Tom turned more current into the motor. The purring and humming
increased, and the car seemed to leap forward. It was in the road
now, and, once assured that the steering apparatus was working
well, Tom suddenly turned on much more speed.

So quickly did the electric auto shoot forward that Mr. Damon
and Mr. Sharp were jerked back against the cushions of the rear

"Here! What are you doing?" inquired Mr. Sharp.

"I'm going to show you a little speed," answered Tom.

The car was now moving rapidly, and there was a smoothness and
lightness to its progress that was absent from a gasolene auto.
There was no vibration from the motor. Faster and faster it ran,
until it was moving at a speed scarcely less than that of Mr.
Damon's car, when it was doing its best. Of course that was not
saying much, for the car owned by the odd gentleman was not a
very powerful one, but it could make fast time occasionally.

"Is this the best you can do?" asked Mr. Damon. "Not that it
isn't fast," he hastened to add, "and I was wondering if it was
your limit."

"Not half!" cried Tom, as he turned on a little more power.
"I'm not trying for a record to-day. I just want to see how the
battery and motor behaves."

"Pretty well, I should say," commented Mr. Sharp.

"I'm satisfied--so far," agreed the lad.

They were now moving along the highway at a good speed--moving
almost silently, too, for the motor, save for a low hum, made no
noise. So quiet was the car, in fact, that it was nearly the
cause of a disaster. Tom was so interested in the performance of
his latest invention, that, before he knew it, he had come up
behind a farmer, driving a team of skittish horses. As the big
machine went past them, giving no warning of its approach, the
steeds reared up, and would have bolted, but for the prompt
action of the driver.

"Hey!" he cried, angrily, as Tom speeded past, "don't you know
you got to give warnin' when you're comin' with one of them ther
gol-swizzled things! By Jehossephat I'll have th' law on ye ef ye
do thet ag'in!"

"I forgot to ring the bell," apologized Tom, as he sent out a
peal from the gong, and then, he let out a few more amperes, and
the speed increased.

"Hold on! I guess this is fast enough!" cried Mr. Damon, as his
hat blew off.

"Fast?" answered Tom. "This is nothing to what I'll do when I
use the full power. Then I'll--"

He was interrupted by a sharp report, and a vivid flash of fire
on a switch board near the steering wheel. The motor gave a sort
of groan, and stopped, the car rolling on a little way, and then
becoming stationary.

"Bless my collar button!" ejaculated Mr. Damon.

"What's the matter?" inquired Mr. Sharp.

"Some sort of a blow-out," answered Tom ruefully, as he shoved
the starting handle over, trying to move the car. But it would
not budge. The new auto had "gone dead" on her first tryout. The
young inventor was grievously disappointed.


"Bless my gizzard! Is it anything serious?" asked Mr. Damon.
"Will it blow up, or anything like that?"

"No," replied the lad, as he leaped out of the car, and began
to make an examination. Mr. Sharp assisted him.

"The motor seems to be all right," remarked the balloonist, as
he inspected it.

"Yes," agreed our hero, "and the batteries have plenty of power
left in them yet. The gauge shows that. I can't understand what
the trouble can be, unless--" He paused in his remark and uttered
an exclamation. "I've found it!" he cried.

"What?" demanded the aeronaut.

"Some of the fuses blew out. I turned on too much current, and
the fuses wouldn't carry it. I put them in to save the motor from
being burned out, but I didn't use heavy enough ones. I see where
my mistake was."

"But what does it mean?" inquired Mr. Damon.

"It means that we've got to walk back home," was Tom's
sorrowful answer. "The car is stalled, for I haven't any extra
fuses with me."

"Can't you connect up the battery by using some extra wire?"
asked Mr. Sharp. "I have some," and he drew a coil of it from his

"I wouldn't dare to. It might be so heavy that it would carry
more current than the motor could stand. I don't want to burn
that out. No, I guess we'll have to walk home, or rather I will.
You two can stay here until I come back with heavier fuses. I'm

Tom had hardly ceased speaking, when, from around the turn in
the road proceeded a voice, and, at the sound of it all three
started, for the voice was saying:

"Now it ain't no use fer yo' to act dat-a-way, Boomerang. Yo'
all ain't got no call t' git contrary now, jest when I wants t'
git home t' mah dinner. I should t'ink you'd want t' git t' de
stable, too. But ef yo' all ain't mighty keerful I'll cut down
yo' rations, dat's what I'se goin' to do. G'lang, now, dat's a
good feller. Ho! Ho! I knowed dat'd fetch yo' all. When yo' all
wiggles yo' ears dat-a-way, dat's a suah sign yo' all is gwine t'

Then followed the sound of a rattletrap of a wagon approaching.

"Eradicate! It's Eradicate!" exclaimed Tom.

"And his mule, Boomerang!" added Mr. Sharp. "He's just in
time!" commented Mr. Damon with a sigh of relief, as the ancient
outfit, in charge of the aged colored man, came along. Eradicate
had been sent to Shopton to get a load of wood for Mr. Swift, and
was now returning. At the sight of the stalled auto the mule
pricked up his long ears, and threw them forward.

"Whoa dar, now, Boomerang!" cried Eradicate. "Doan't yo' all
commence t' gittin' skittish. Dat machine ain't gwine t' hurt
yo'. Why good land a' massy! Ef 'tain't Mistah Swift!" cried the
colored man, as he caught sight of Tom. "What's de trouble?" he

"Broke down," answered the young inventor briefly. "You always
seem to come along when I'm in trouble, Rad."

"Dat's right," assented the darkey, with a grin. "Me an'
trouble am ole acquaintances. Sometimes she hits me a clip on de
haid, den, ag'in Boomerang, mah mule, gits it. He jest had his
trouble. Got a stone under his shoe, an' didn't want t' move. Den
when I did git him started he balked on me. But I'se all right
now. But I suah am sorry fo' you. Can't I help yo' all, Mistah

"Yes, you can, Rad," answered Tom. "Drive home as fast as you
can, and ask Dad to send back with you some of those fuses he'll
find on my work bench. He knows what I want. Hurry there and
hurry back."

Eradicate shook his head doubtfully.

"What's the matter? Don't you want to go?" asked Mr. Sharp, a
trifle nettled. "We can't get the car started until we have some
new fuses.."

"Oh, I wants t' go all right 'nuff, Mistah Sharp," was
Eradicate's prompt answer. "Yo' all knows I'd do anyt'ing t'
'blige yo' or Mistah Swift. But hits dish yeah mule, Boomerang. I
jest done promised him dat we were gwine home t' dinnah, an' he
'spects a manger full ob oats. Ef I got to Mistah Swift's house
wid him, I couldn't no mo' git him t' come back widout his
dinnah, dan yo' all kin git dat 'ar car t' move widout dem fusin'
t'ings yo' all talked about."

"Bless my necktie!" exclaimed Mr. Damon. "That's all nonsense!
You don't suppose that mule understands what you say to him, do
you? How does he know you promised him his dinner?"

"I doan't know how he know, Mistah Damon," replied Eradicate,
"but he do know, jest de same. I know hit would be laik pullin'
teeth an' wuss too, t' git Boomerang t' start back wid dem foosd
t'ings until after he's had his dinner. Wouldn't it, Boomerang?"

The mule waved his long ears as if in answer.

"Bless my soul, I believe he does understand!" cried Mr. Damon.

"Of course he do," put in the colored man. "I'se awful sorry.
Now if it were afternoon I could bring back dem what-d'ye-call-
'ems in a jiffy, 'cause Boomerang allers feels good arter he has
his dinnah, but befo' dat--" and Eradicate shook his head, as if
there was no more to be said on the subject.

"Well," remarked Tom, sadly, "I guess there's no help for it.
We'll have to walk home, unless you two want to wait until I can
ride back with Eradicate, and come back on my motor cycle. Then
I'll have to leave the cycle here, for I can't get it in the

"Bless my collar button!" cried Mr. Damon. "It's like the
puzzle of the fox, the goose and the bag of corn on the banks of
a stream. I guess we'd better all walk."

"Hold on!" exclaimed Mr. Sharp. "Is your mule good and strong,

"Strong? Why dish yeah mule could pull a house ober--dat is
when he's got a mind to. An' he'd do most anyt'ing now, 'ca'se
he's anxious t' git home t' his dinnah; ain't yo' all,

Once more the mule waved his ears, like signal flags.

"Then I have a proposition to make," went on the balloonist.
"Unhitch the mule from the load of wood, and hitch him to the
auto. We've got some rope along, I noticed. Then the mule can
pull us and the runabout home."

"Good idea!" cried Mr. Damon.

"Dat's de racket!" ejaculated Eradicate. "I'll jest
sequesterate dish year load ob wood side ob de road, an' hitch
Boomerang to de auto."

Tom said nothing for a few seconds. He gazed sadly at his
auto, which he hoped would win the touring club's prize. It was a
bitter pill for him to swallow.

"Towed by a mule!" he exclaimed, shaking his head, and smiling
ruefully. "The fastest car in this country towed by a mule! It's
tough luck!"

"'Tain't half so bad as goin' widout yo' dinnah, Mistah Swift!"
remarked Eradicate, as he began to harness the mule to the
electric runabout.

Boomerang made no objection to the transfer. He looked around
once or twice as he was being made fast to the auto and, when the
word was given he stepped out as if pulling home stalled cars was
his regular business. Tom sat beside Eradicate on the front seat,
and steered, while the colored man drove the mule, and Mr. Sharp
and Mr. Damon were in the "tonneau" seats as Tom called them.

"I hope no one sees us," thought Tom, but he was doomed to
disappointment. When nearly home he heard an auto approaching,
and in it were Andy Foger, Sam Snedecker and Pete Bailey. The
three cronies stared at the odd sight of Boomerang ambling along,
with his great ears flapping, drawing Tom's speedy new car.

"Ha! Ha!" laughed Andy. "So that's the motive power he's going
to use! Look at him, fellows. I thought his new electric, that
was going to beat my car, and win the prize, was to be two
hundred horse power. Instead it's one mule power! That's rich!"
and Andy's chums joined in the laugh at poor Tom.

The young imventor said nothing, for there was nothing he could
say. In dignified silence he passed the car containing his
enemies, they, meanwhile, jeering at him.

"Dat's all right," spoke Eradicate, sympathizing with his young
employer. "Maybe dey'll 'want a tow derselves some day, an' when
dey does, I'll make Boomerang pull 'em in a ditch."

But this was small comfort to Tom. He made up his mind, though,
that he would demonstrate that his car could do all that he had
claimed for it, and that very soon.


Boomerang did not belie the reputation Eradicate had given him
as a beast of strength. Though the electric runabout was heavy,
the mule managed to move it along the road at a fair speed, with
the four occupants. Perhaps the animal knew that at the end of
his journey a good feed awaited him. At any rate they were soon
within sight of the Swift home.

Mr. Damon and Mr. Sharp refrained from making any comments that
might hurt Tom's feelings, for they realized the chagrin felt by
the young inventor in having his apparatus go back on him at the
first trial. But our hero was not the kind of a lad who is
disheartened by one failure, or even half a dozen.

The humor of the situation appealed to him, and, as he turned
the auto into the driveway, and noticed Boomerang's long ears
waving to and fro, he laughed.

The lad insisted on putting new fuses in the car before he ate
his dinner, and then, satisfied that the motor was once more in
running order, he partook of a hasty meal, and began making
several changes which he had decided were desirable. He finished
them in time to go for a little run in the car all alone on a
secluded road late that afternoon.

Tom returned, with eyes shining, and cheeks flushed with

"Well, how did it go? asked his father.

"Fine! Better than I expected," responded his son
enthusiastically. "When it gets to running smoothly I'll pass
anything on the road."

"Don't be too sure," cautioned Mr. Swift, but Tom only smiled.

There was still much to do on the electric runabout, and Tom
spent the next few days in adjusting the light steel wind-shield,
that was to come down over the driver's seat. He also put in a
powerful electric search-light, which was run by current from the
battery, and installed a new speedometer and an instrument to
tell how much current he was using, and how much longer the
battery would run without being exhausted. This was to enable him
to know when to begin re-charging it. When the current was all
consumed it was necessary to store more in the battery. This
could be done by attaching wires from a dynamo, or, in an
emergency by tapping an electric light wire in the street. But as
the battery would enable the car to run many miles on one
charging, Tom did not think he would ever have to resort to the
emergency charging apparatus. He had a new system for this, one
that enabled him to do the work in much less than the usual time.

With his new car still unpainted, and rather rough and crude in
appearance, the lad started out alone one morning, his father and
Mr. Sharp having declined to accompany him, on the plea of
business to attend to, and Mr. Damon not being at the Swift

Tom rode about for several hours, giving his car several severe
tests in the way of going up hills, and speeding on the level. He
was proceeding along a quiet country road, in a small town about
fifteen miles from Shopton, when, as he flashed past the small
railroad station, he saw a familiar figure standing on the

"Why, Ned!" called Tom, "what are you doing over here?"

"I might ask the same thing of you. Is that your new car? It
doesn't look very new."

"Yes, this is it. I haven't had a chance to paint and varnish
it yet. But you ought to see it go. What are doing here, though?"

"I came over on some bank business. A customer here had some
bonds he wanted to dispose of and I came for them. You see we're
enlarging our business since the new bank started."

"Has it hurt your bank any?"

"Not yet, but Foger and his associates are trying hard to make
us lose money. Say, did you ever see such a place as this? I've
got to wait two hours for a train back to Shopton."

"No you haven't."

"Why not? Have they changed the timetable since I came over
this morning?"

"No, but you can ride back with me. I'm going, and I'll show
you what my new electric car can do."

"Good!" cried the young bank cashier. "You're just in time. I
was wondering how I could kill two hours, but now I'll get in
your new car and--"

"And maybe we'll kill a few chickens, or a dog or two when we
get her speeded up," put in Tom, with a laugh in which Ned

The two lads, seated in the front part of the auto, were soon
moving down the hard highway. Suddenly Tom pulled a lever and the
steel wind-shield came sliding down from the top case, meeting
the forward battery compartment, and forming a sort of slanting
roof over the heads of the two occupants.

"Here! What's this?" cried Ned.

"We're going to hit it up in a few minutes," replied the young
inventor, "and I want to reduce the wind resistance."

"Oh, I thought maybe we were going through a bombardment. It's
all right, go ahead, don't mind me. I'm game."

There was a celluloid window in the steel wind-shield, and
through this the lads could observe the road ahead of them.

As they swung along it, the speed increasing, Ned saw an auto
ahead of them.

"Whose car is that?" he asked.

"Don't know," replied Tom. "We'll be up to it in about half a
minute, though."

As the electric runabout, more dilapidated looking than ever
from the layer of dust that covered it, passed the other auto,
which was a powerful car, the solitary occupant of it, a middle-
aged man, looked to one side, and, seeing the queer machine,

"You fellows are going the wrong way to the junk heap. Turn

"Is that so?" asked Tom, his eyes flashing at the cheap wit of
the man. "Why we came out here to show you the way!"

"Do you want to race?" asked the man eagerly, too eagerly, Ned
thought. "I'll give you a brush, if you do, and a handicap into
the bargain."

"We don't need it," replied the young inventor quickly.

"I'll wager fifty dollars I can beat you bad on this three-mile
stretch," went on the autoist. "How about it?"

"I'll race you, but I don't bet," answered Tom, a bit stiffly.

"Oh, be a sport," urged the man.

Tom shook his head. He had slowed down his machine, and was
running even with the gasolene car now. He noticed that it was a
new one, of six cylinders, and looked speedy. Perhaps he was
foolish to pit his untried car against it. Yet he had confidence
in his battery and motor.

"Well, we'll race for the fun of it then," went on the man. "Do
you want a handicap?"

Tom shook his head again, and there came around his mouth a
grim look.

"All right," assented the other. "Only you're going to be beat
badly. I never saw an electric car yet that could do anything
except to crawl along."

"You're going to see one now," was all the retort Tom permitted

"Here we go then!" cried the man, and he gave his gear handle a
yank, and shoved over the sparking and gasolene levers.

His car instantly shot ahead, and went "chug chugging" down the
road in a cloud of dust. At the same moment Tom, in answer to a
look from Ned, who feared his friend was going to be left behind,
turned more power into the motor. The humming, purring sound
increased and the electric car forged ahead.

"Can you catch him?" asked Ned.

"Watch," was all Tom said.

The hum of the motor became a sort of whine, and the electric
rapidly acquired speed. It crept up on the gasolene car, as an
express train overtakes a freight, and the man, looking back, and
expecting to see his rival far behind was surprised to note the
queer looking vehicle lapping his rear wheels.

"Well, you are coming on, aren't you?" he asked. "Maybe you'll
keep up now!" He shifted the gears, using a little more gasolene.
For a moment his car opened a wide gap between it and Tom's, but
the young inventor had only begun to race. Still louder purred
the motor, and in a few minutes Tom was running on even terms
with his competitor. The man looked annoyed, and tried, by the
skilful use of gasolene and sparking levers, to leave Tom behind.
But the electric held her own.

"I've got to go the limit I see," remarked the man at last,
glancing sideways at the other car. "I'll tell 'em you're
coming," he added, "though I must say your electric does better
than any of its kind I ever came across."

"I'm not done yet," was the comment of our hero. But the man
did not hear him, for he was yanking into place the lever that
enabled him to run on direct drive for fourth speed.

Forward shot his car, and, for perhaps a quarter of a mile it
led. The racers were almost at the end of the three-mile level
stretch of road, and if Tom was going to win the impromptu
contest it seemed high time he began.

"Can you catch him?" asked Ned anxiously.

"Watch," was his chum's reply. "I haven't used my high speed
gear yet. I'm afraid the fuses won't stand it, but here goes for
a try, anyhow."

He threw over a switch, changed a lever and then, having pushed
into place the last gear, he grasped the steering wheel more

There was need of it, for, in an instant, the electric
runabout, with the motors fairly roaring, swept up the road,
after the gasolene car that was almost hidden from sight in a
cloud of dust. Faster and faster went Tom's car. The young
inventor was listening with critical ear to the song of the
machinery. He wanted to learn if it was running sweet and true,
for that is how a careful mechanic tests his apparatus. Foot by
foot the distance between the two cars lessened. Now the electric
was lapping the rear wheels of the gasolene machine, but the
driver did not know it. His whole attention was on the road ahead
of him.

"Half a mile more!" cried Ned, naming the distance which yet
remained of the straight stretch. "Can you do it, Tom?"

His chum nodded. He shoved the controller handle over to the
last notch, and then waited an anxious second. Would the fuse
carry the extra load? It seemed so, for there was a slight
increase of power.

An instant later Tom gave a sudden twist to the steering wheel.
It was well that he did, for he was passing the gasolene car
dangerously close. Then he was ahead of it, and in a second he
was three lengths in advance.

Desperately the man opened his muffler, and sought to gain by
this advantage, but though his car gave off explosions like a
battery of guns in action, he could not gain on Tom. The electric
shot around a curve in the road, winner of the impromptu race by
an eighth of a mile.

"Well," asked Tom of his chum, as he slowed down, for the road
now was not so good, "did I do it?"

"You certainly did. Whew! But we did scoot along?"

"Eighty miles an hour there one spell," went on the young
inventor, glancing at a gauge. "But I've got to do better than
that to win the big race."


Around the bend came the six-cylinder touring car. The driver,
with a surprised look on his face, was slacking up. He ran his
machine up alongside of Tom's.

"Say," he asked, in dazed tones, "did you take a short cut, or
anything like that to get ahead of me?"

"No," answered the youth.

"And you didn't jump me in the air?"

"No," was Tom's answer, smilingly given.

"Well, all I've got to say is that you've got a wonderful car
there, Mr.--er--er--" He paused suggestively.

"Swift is my name," our hero answered. "Thomas Swift, of

"Ah, I've heard of you. My name is Layton --Paul Layton. I'm
from Netherton. Let's see, you built an airship, didn't you?"

"I helped," Tom admitted modestly.

"Well, you beat me fair and square, and if I do say it myself
I've got a fairly speedy car. Took two firsts at the Indianapolis
meet last month. But you certainly scooted ahead of me. Where did
you buy that electric, if I may ask?"

"I made it."

"I might have known," admitted the man. "But are you going to
put them on the market? If you are I'd like to get one. I want
the fastest car going, and you seem to have it."

"I hadn't thought of manufacturing them for sale," said the
young inventor. "If I do, I'll let you know."

"I wish you would. My! I had no idea you could beat me, but you
did--fair and square."

There was some more talk, and then Mr. Layton started on, after
exacting from Tom a further promise to let him know if any
electrics were to be made for sale.

"You certainly have a wonderful car," complimented Ned, as he
and his chum took a short cut to Shopton.

"Well, I'm not quite satisfied with it," declared Tom.

"Why not?"

"Well, I've set a hundred miles an hour as my limit. I didn't
make but eighty to-day. I've got to have more speed if I go up
against the crowd that will race for the touring club's prize."

"Can you make a hundred miles?"

"I think so. I've got to change my gears, though, and use
heavier fuses. I was afraid every second that one of the fuses
would melt, and leave me stranded. But they stood pretty well. Of
course, when the car, geared as it is now, has been run a little
longer it will go faster, but it won't come up to a hundred miles
an hour. That's what I want, and that's what I'm going to get,"
and the lad looked very determined.

Ned was taken to the bank, and, as Tom turned his machine
around, to go home, he saw, standing on the steps of the new
bank, which was almost across the street from the old one, Andy
Foger, and the bully's father. The red-haired lad laughed at
Tom's rough looking car, and said something to his parent, but
Mr. Foger did not notice Tom. Not that this caused our hero any
uneasiness, however.

But, as he swung away from the bank, he saw, coming up the
street a figure that instantly attracted his attention. It was
that of Mr. Berg, and Tom at once recalled the night he had
pursued the submarine agent, and torn loose his watch charm. Mr.
Berg was evidently going to enter the new bank, for, at the sight
of the former agent, Mr. Foger descended the steps, and went to
meet him.

Tom, however, had decided upon a plan of action. He steered his
machine in toward the curb, ran up the steel wind-shield, and

"Mr. Berg!"

"Eh? What's that?" asked the agent, in some surprise. Then, as
he caught sight of Tom, and recognized him, he added: "I'm very
busy now, my young friend. You'll have to excuse me."

"I won't detain you a moment," went on Tom, casually. "I have
something of yours that I wish to return to you."

"Something of mine?" Mr. Berg was evidently puzzled. He
approached the electric car, in spite of the fact that Mr. Foger
was calling him. "Something of mine? What is it?"

"This!" exclaimed Tom suddenly, extending the compass watch
charm, which he always carried with him of late.

"That! Where did you get that. I lost it--"

Mr. Berg paused in some confusion.

"I grabbed it off your watch chain the night you were hiding in
our shrubbery, and tripped me into the brook," answered the lad,
looking the man squarely in the eye.

"Hiding? Tripped you? Grabbed that off my chain--" stammered
Mr. Berg. He had taken the charm up in his fingers, but now he
quickly dropped it back into Tom's hand. "I guess you're
mistaken," he added quickly. "That's not mine. I never had one--
I--er--that's not mine--at least--Oh, you'll have to excuse me,
young man, I'm in a hurry, and I have an important engagement!"
and with that Mr. Berg wheeled off, and joined Mr. Foger, who
stood on the sidewalk, waiting for him.

"I thought sure it was yours," said Tom, easily. "Perhaps Mr.
Foger will keep it in one of the safety-deposit boxes of his
bank, until the owner claims it," and he looked at the banker.

"What's that?" asked Andy's father.

"This watch charm which I grabbed off Mr. Berg's chain the
night he was sneaking around our house, and crossed the electric
wires," went on the lad.

"Don't listen to him. He doesn't know what he is saying!"
exclaimed the former submarine boat agent. "It's not my charm.
He's crazy!"

"Oh, am I?" thought Tom, with a grim look on his face. "Well,
we'll see about that, Mr. Berg," and, putting the charm back in
his pocket, Tom swung his machine toward home, while the agent
and the banker entered the new institution.

"So they're getting chummy," mused Tom. "Andy and Berg were
friends when Andy shut me up in the submarine tank, and now Berg
comes here to do business, and Foger and his associates are
trying to put the old bank out of business. I wonder if there's
any connection there? I must keep my eyes open. Berg is an
unscrupulous man, and so is Andy's father, to say nothing of the
red-haired bully himself. He had nerve to deny that was his
charm. Well, maybe I'll catch him some day."

Tom spent a busy week making new adjustments to his electric
car, changing the gear and providing for heavier fuses. He was
planning for another trip on the road, as the time for the great
race was drawing near, and he wanted the mechanism to be in
perfect shape.

One evening, as he was preparing for a short night trip to
Mansburg, where he had promised to call for Miss Nestor, Tom left
his machine standing in the road in front of the house, while he
went back to get a robe, as it threatened to be chilly.

As he came back to enter the car, he saw some one standing near

"Is that you, Ned?" he called. "Come, take a spin."

Hardly had he spoken than there sounded from the machine a
whirr that told of the current being turned on.

"Don't do that!" cried Tom, knowing at once that it could not
be Ned, who never meddled with the machinery.

A blinding flash and a loud report followed, and Tom saw some
one leap from his car, and try to run away. But the figure
stumbled, and, a moment later the young inventor was upon him,
grappling with him.

"Here! Let me go!" cried a voice, and Tom uttered an
exclamation of surprise.

"Andy Foger!" he cried. "I've caught you! You tried to damage
my car!"

"Yes, and I'm hurt, too!" whined Andy. "My father will sue you
for damages if I die."

"No danger of that; you're too mean," murmured Tom, as he
maintained a tight grip on the bully.

"You let me go!" demanded Andy, squirming to get away.

"Wait until I see what damage you've done,'~ retorted the young
inventor. "The worst, though, would be the blowing out of a fuse,
for I had the gear disconnected. You wait a minute now. Maybe
it's you who'll have to pay damages."

"You let me go!" fairly screamed Andy, and he aimed a blow at
Tom. It caught our hero on the chest and Tom's fighting blood was
up in an instant. He drew back his left hand, and delivered a
blow that landed fairly on Andy's right eye. The bully staggered
and went down in the dust.

"There!" cried Tom, righteously angry. "That will teach you not
to try to damage my car, and then hit me into the bargain! Now
clear out, before I give you some more!"

Whining and blubbering Andy arose to his feet.

"You just wait. I'll get square with you for this," he

"You can accept part of that as pay for what you did in the tar
and feathering game," added Tom. Then, as Andy moved in front of
one of the electric side lamps on the car, Tom uttered a whistle
of surprise. For both of Andy's eyes were bruised and swollen,
though Tom had only hit him once.

"Look at me!" cried the bully, more squint-eyed than ever.
"Look at me! You hit me in one eye, and that explosion hit me in
the other! My father will sue you for this."

As he hurried off down the road Tom understood. Andy coming
along, had seen Tom's car standing there, and, thinking to do
some mischief, had climbed in, and turned on the power. Perhaps
he hoped it would run into the roadside ditch and be smashed. But
as the gear was out, turning on the electric current had a
different effect. As the bully pulled the handle over too
quickly, throwing almost the entire force of the battery into the
wires at once, the load was too heavy for them. A safety fuse
blew out, causing the flare and the explosion, and a piece of the
soft lead-like metal had hit the red-haired lad in the eye. Tom's
fist had completed the work on the other optic, and for several
days thereafter Andy Foger remained in seclusion. When he did go
out there were many embarrassing questions put to him, as to when
he had had the fight. Andy didn't care to answer. As for Tom, it
did not take long to put a new fuse in his car, and he greatly
enjoyed his ride with Miss Nestor that night.


Coming in rather late from his trip to Mansburg, and thinking
of some things he and Miss Nestor had talked about, Tom was
rather surprised, on reaching the house, to see a light in his
father's particular room, where the aged inventor did his reading
and his planning of new devices.

"Dad's up rather late," said Tom to himself. "I wonder if he's
studying over some new machine."

The lad ran his auto into the temporary garage he had built for
it, and connected the wires of a burglar alarm he had arranged,
to give warning in case any of his enemies should seek to damage
the car.

Tom encountered Garret Jackson, the aged inventor who was going
his rounds, seeing that everything was all right about the
various shops.

"Anybody with my father, Garret?" asked the lad. "I see he's
still up."

"Yes," was the rather unexpected reply. "Mr. Damon is with him.
They've been in your father's room all the evening--ever since
you went away in the car."

"Anything the matter?" inquired the young inventor, a bit
anxious, as he thought of the Happy Harry gang.

"Well, I don't know," and the engineer seemed puzzled. "They
called me in once to know if everything was all right outside,
and to inquire if you were back. I saw, then, that they were busy
figuring over something, but I didn't take much notice. Only I
heard Mr. Damon say: 'There's going to be trouble if we can't
realize on those bonds,' and then I came away."

"Is that all he said?" asked Tom.

"No, he said 'Bless my buttons,' or something like that; but he
blesses so many things I didn't pay much attention."

"That's right," agreed the lad. "But I wonder what the trouble
is about? I must go see."

As he passed along the hall, out of which his father's combined
study and library opened, the aged inventor came to the door.

"Is that you, Tom?" he asked.

"Yes, Dad."

"Come in here, if you haven't anything else to do. Mr. Damon is

Tom needed but a single glance at the faces of his father and
Mr. Damon to see that something was troubling the two. The table
in front of them was littered with papers covered with rows of

"What's the matter?" asked Tom.

"Well, I suppose I ought not to let it bother me, but it does,"
replied his father.

"Something wrong with your patents, Dad? Has the crowd of bad
men been bothering you again?"

"No, it isn't that. It's trouble at the bank, Tom."

"Has it been robbed again?" asked the lad quickly. "If it has I
can prove an alibi," and he smiled at the recollection of the
time he and Mr. Damon had been accused of looting the vault, as
told in "Tom Swift and His Airship."

"No, it hasn't been robbed in just that way," put in Mr. Damon.
"But, bless my shoe laces, it's almost as bad! You see, Tom,
since Mr. Foger started the new bank he's done his best to
cripple the one in which your father and I are interested. I may
say we are very vitally interested in it, for, since the
withdrawal of Foger and his associates, your father and I have
been elected directors."

"I didn't know that," remarked the lad.

"No, I didn't tell you, because you were so busy on your
electric car," rejoined Mr. Swift. "But Mr. Damon and I, being
both large depositors, were asked to assume office, and, as I was
not very busy on patent affairs, I consented."

"But what is the trouble?" inquired Tom.

"I'm coming to it," resumed Mr. Damon. "Bless my check book,
I'm coming to it! You see we have lost several good customers, by
reason of Foger opening the new bank. That wouldn't have mattered
so much, as between your father and myself, and one or two
others, we have enough capital to carry on the business of the
bank. But there is a more serious matter. We hold a number of
very good securities, but they are of a class hard to realize
cash for, on short notice. In other words they are not active
bonds, though they are issued by reliable concerns. Then, too,
the bank has lost considerable money by not doing as much
business as it formerly did. In short we don't know just what to
do, Tom, and your father and I were discussing it, when you came

"Do you need more money?" asked Tom. "I have some, that is my
share from the submarine treasure, and some I have allowed to
accumulate as royalties from my patents. It's about ten thousand
dollars, and you're welcome to it."

"Thank you, Tom," spoke his father. "We may use your cash, but
we'll need a great deal more than that."

"But why?" asked the lad. "I don't understand. If you have good
bonds, can't you dispose of them, and get the money?"

"We could, Tom, yes, if we had time," replied Mr. Damon. "But
to throw the bonds on the market at short notice would mean that
we would not get a good price for them. We would lose

"But why do it in a hurry?"

"Because there is need of hurry," responded Mr. Swift.

"That's it," joined in Mr. Damon. "We have to have cash in a
hurry, Tom, to meet pressing demands, and we don't just see our
way clear to get it. I am trying to raise it on some private
securities I own, but I can't get an answer within several days.
Meanwhile the bank may fail, because of lack of funds. Of course
no one would lose anything, ultimately, as we could go into the
hands of a receiver, and, eventually pay dollar for dollar. Your
father and I, and some of the other directors, might lose a
little, but the depositors would not. But your father and I don't
like the idea of failing. It's something I've never done, and I'm
too old to start in now, bless my cash ledger if I'm not!"

"And for the sake of my reputation in this community I don't
want to see the bank close its doors," added Mr. Swift. "It would
give Foger too good a chance to crow over us."

"And you need cash in a hurry," went on Tom. "How much?"

"Fifty thousand dollars at least," replied Mr. Damon.

"And if you don't get it?"

The eccentric man shrugged his shoulders.

"Well," remarked Mr. Swift musingly, "I don't see that we need
worry you about it, Tom. Perhaps--"

Mr. Swift was interrupted by a ring at the front door. The
three looked at each other. It was late for a caller, and Mrs.
Baggert had gone to bed.

"I'll answer it," volunteered Tom. He switched on the electric
light in the hall, and opened the door. He was confronted by Mr.
Pendergast, the president of the bank.

"Is your father in?" asked Mr. Pendergast, and he seemed to be
much agitated.

"Yes, he is," replied the lad. "Come this way, please."

"I want to see him on important business," went on the
president, as he followed the young inventor. "I'm afraid I have
bad news for him and Mr. Damon. Bad news, Tom, bad news," and the
aged banker's voice trembled. Tom, with a chill of apprehension
seeming to clutch his heart, threw open the library door.


"Why, Mr. Pendergast!" exclaimed Mr. Damon, rising quickly as
Tom ushered in the aged president. "Whatever is the matter? You
here at this hour? Bless my trial balance! Is anything wrong?

"I'm afraid there is," answered the bank head. "I have just
received word which made it necessary for me to see you both at
once. I'm glad you're here, Mr. Damon."

He sank wearily into a chair which Tom placed for him, and Mr.
Swift asked:

"Have you been able to raise any cash, Mr. Pendergast?"

"No, I am sorry to say I have not, but I did not come here to
tell you that. I have bad news for you. As soon as we open our
doors in the morning, there will be a run on the bank." "A run on
the bank?" repeated Mr. Swift.

"The moment we begin business in the morning," went on Mr.

"Bless my soul, then don't begin business!" cried Mr. Damon.

"We must," insisted Mr. Pendergast. "To keep the doors closed
would be a confession at once that we have failed. No, it is
better to open them, and stand the run as long as we can. When we
have exhausted our cash--" he paused.

"Well?" asked Mr. Damon.

"Then we'll fail--that's all."

"But we mustn't let the bank fail!" cried Mr. Swift. "I am
willing to put some of my personal fortune into the bank capital
in order to save it. So is my son here."

"That's right," chimed in Tom heartily. "All I've got. I'm not
going to let Andy Foger get ahead of us; nor his father either."

"I'll help to the limit of my ability," added Mr. Damon.

"I appreciate all that," continued the president. "But the
unfortunate part of it is that we need cash. You gentlemen, like
myself, probably, have your money tied up in stocks and bonds. It
is hard to get cash quickly, and we must have cash as soon as we
open in the morning, to pay the depositors who will come flocking
to the doors. We must prepare for a run on the bank."

"How do you know there will be a run?" asked the young

"I received word this evening, just before I came here,"
replied Mr. Pendergast. "A poor widow, who has a small amount in
the bank, called on me and said she had been advised to withdraw
all her cash. She said she preferred to see me about it first, as
she did not like to lose her interest. She said a number of her
acquaintances, some of whom are quite heavy depositors, had also
been warned that the bank was unsound, and that they ought to
take out their savings and deposits at once."

"Did she say who had thus warned her?" inquired Mr. Swift.

"She did," was the reply, "and that shows me that there is a
conspiracy on foot to ruin our bank. She stated that Mr. Foger
had told her our institution was unsound."

"Mr. Foger!" cried Mr. Damon. "So this is one of his tricks to
bolster up his new bank! He hopes the people who withdraw their
money from our bank will deposit with him. I see his game. He's a
scoundrel, and if it's possible I'm going to sue him for damages
after this thing is over."

"Did he warn the others?" inquired the aged inventor.

"Not all of them," answered the president. "Some received
letters from a man signing himself Addison Berg, warning them
that our bank, was likely to fail any day."

"Addison Berg!" exclaimed Tom. "That must have been the
important business he had with Mr. Foger, the day I showed him
the watch charm! They were plotting the ruin of our bank then,"
and he told his father about his disastrous pursuit of the
submarine agent.

"Very likely Foger is working with Berg," admitted Mr. Damon.
"We will attend to them later. The question is, what can we do to
save the bank?"

"Get cash, and plenty of it," advised Mr. Pendergast. "Suppose
we go over the whole situation again?" and they fell to talking
stocks: bonds, securities, mortgages and interest, until the
youth, interested as he was in the situation, could follow it no

"Better go to bed, Tom," advised his father. "You can't help us
any, and we have many details to go over."

The lad reluctantly consented, and he was soon dreaming that he
was in his electric auto, trying to pull up a thousand pound lump
of gold from the bottom of the sea. He awoke to find the
bedclothes in a lump on his chest, and, removing them, fell into
a deep slumber.

When the young inventor awoke the next morning, Mrs. Baggert
told him that his father and Mr. Damon had risen nearly an hour
before, had partaken of a hearty breakfast, and departed.

"They told me to tell you they were at the bank," said the

"Did Mr. Pendergast stay all night?" inquired Tom.

"I heard some one go away about two o'clock this morning,"
replied the housekeeper. "I don't know who it was."

"They must have had a long session," thought Tom, as he began
on his bacon, eggs and coffee. "I'll take a run down to the bank
in my electric in a little while."

The car was still in rather crude shape, outwardly, but the
mechanism was now almost perfect. Tom charged the batteries well
before starting put.

The youth had no sooner come in sight of the old Shopton bank,
to distinguish it from the Second National, which Mr. Foger had
started, than he was aware that something unusual had occurred.
There was quite a crowd about it, and more persons were
constantly arriving to swell the throng.

"What's the matter?" asked Tom, of one of the few police
officers of which Shopton boasted, though the lad did not need to
be told.

"Run on the bank," was the brief answer. "It's failed."

Tom felt a pang of disappointment. Somehow, he had hoped that
his father and his friends might have been able to stave off
ruin. As he approached nearer Tom was made aware that the crowd
was in an ugly mood.

"Why don't they open the doors and give us our money?" cried
one excited woman. "It's ours! I worked hard for mine, an' now
they want to keep it from us. I wish I'd put it in the new bank."

"Yes, that's the best place," added another. "That Mr. Foger
has lots of money."

"I can see the hand of Andy's father, and that of Mr. Berg, at
work here," thought Tom, "They have spread rumors of the bank's
trouble, and hope to profit by it. I wish I could find a way to
beat them at their own game."

As the minutes passed, and the bank was not opened, the ugly
temper of the crowd increased. The few police could do nothing
with the mob, and several, bolder than the rest, advocated
battering down the doors. Some went up the steps and began to
pound on the portals. Tom looked for a sight of his father or Mr.
Damon, but could not see either.

It was not the regular hour for opening the bank, but when the
police reminded the people of this they only laughed.

"I guess they ain't going to open anyhow!" shouted a man.
"They've got our money, and they're going to keep it. What
difference is an hour, anyway?"

"Yes, if they have the money, why don't they open, and not wait
until ten o'clock?" cried another. "I've got a hundred and five
dollars in there, and I want it!"

More excited persons were arriving every minute. The crowd
surged this way, and that. Many looked anxiously at the clock in
the tower of the town hall. The gilded hands pointed to a few
minutes of ten. Would the bank open its doors when the hour
boomed out? Many were anxiously asking this question.

Tom sat in his electric car, near the front of the bank. The
interest of the crowd, which under ordinary circumstances would
have been centered in the queer vehicle, was not drawn toward it.
The people were all thinking of their money.

Suddenly one of the two doors of the bank slowly opened. There
was a yell from the crowd, and a rush to get in. But the police
managed to hold the leaders back, and then Tom saw that it was
Ned Newton, who stood in the partly-opened portal. He held up his
hand to indicate silence, and a hush fell over the mob.

"The bank is open for business," Ned announced, "but there must

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