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Tom Swift And His Sky Racer by Victor Appleton

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The Quickest Flight on Record


I The Prize Offer
II Mr. Swift Is Ill
III The Plans Disappear
IV Anxious Days
V Building the Sky Racer
VI Andy Foger Will Contest
VII Seeking a Clue
VIII The Empty Shed
IX A Trial Flight
X A Midnight Intruder
XI Tom Is Hurt
XII Miss Nestor Calls
XIII A Clash with Andy
XIV The Great Test
XV A Noise in the Night
XVI A Mysterious Fire
XVII Mr. Swift Is Worse
XVIII The Broken Bridge
XIX A Nervy Specialist
XX Just in Time
XXI "Will He Live?"
XXII Off to the Meet
XXIII The Great Race
XXIV Won by a Length
XXV Home Again--Conclusion


Chapter One

The Prize Offer

"Is this Tom Swift, the inventor of several airships?"

The man who had rung the bell glanced at the youth who
answered his summons.

"Yes, I'm Tom Swift," was the reply. "Did you wish to see me?"

"I do. I'm Mr. James Gunmore, secretary of the Eagle Park
Aviation Association. I had some correspondence with you
about a prize contest we are going to hold. I believe--"

"Oh, yes, I remember now," and the young inventor smiled
pleasantly as he opened wider the door of his home. "Won't
you come in? My father will be glad to see you. He is as
much interested in airships as I am." And Tom led the way to
the library, where the secretary of the aviation society was
soon seated in a big, comfortable leather chair.

"I thought we could do better, and perhaps come to some
decision more quickly, if I came to see you, than if we
corresponded," went on Mr. Gunmore. "I hope I haven't
disturbed you at any of your inventions," and the secretary
smiled at the youth.

"No. I'm through for to-day," replied Tom. "I'm glad to
see you. I thought at first it was my chum, Ned Newton. He
generally runs over in the evening."

"Our society, as I wrote you, Mr. Swift, is planning to
hold a very large and important aviation meet at Eagle Park,
which is a suburb of Westville, New York State. We expect to
have all the prominent 'bird-men' there, to compete for
prizes, and your name was mentioned. I wrote to you, as you
doubtless recall, asking if you did not care to enter."

"And I think I wrote you that my big aeroplane-dirigible,
the Red Cloud, was destroyed in Alaska, during a recent trip
we made to the caves of ice there, after gold," replied Tom.

"Yes, you did," admitted Mr. Gunmore, "and while our
committee was very sorry to hear that, we hoped you might
have some other air craft that you could enter at our meet.
We want to make it as complete as possible, and we all feel
that it would not be so unless we had a Swift aeroplane

"It's very kind of you to say so," remarked Tom, "but
since my big craft was destroyed I really have nothing I
could enter."

"Haven't you an aeroplane of any kind? I made this trip
especially to get you to enter. Haven't you anything in
which you could compete for the prizes? There are several to
be offered, some for distance flights, some for altitude,
and the largest, ten thousand dollars, for the speediest
craft. Ten thousand dollars is the grand prize, to be
awarded for the quickest flight on record."

"I surely would like to try for that," said Tim, "but the
only craft I have is a small monoplane, the Butterfly, I
call it, and while it is very speedy, there have been such
advances made in aeroplane construction since I made mine
that I fear I would be distanced if I raced in her. And I
wouldn't like that."

"No," agreed Mr. Gunmore. "I suppose not. Still, I do wish
we could induce you to enter. I don't mind telling you that
we consider you a drawing-card. Can't we induce you, some

"I'm afraid not. I haven't any machine which--"

"Look here!" exclaimed the secretary eagerly. "Why can't
you build a special aeroplane to enter in the next meet?
You'll have plenty of time, as it doesn't come off for three
months yet. We are only making the preliminary arrangements.
It is now June, and the meet is scheduled for early in
September. Couldn't you build a new and speedy aeroplane in
that time?"

Eagerly Mr. Gunmore waited for the answer. Tom Swift
seemed to be considering it. There was an increased
brightness to his eyes, and one could tell that he was
thinking deeply. The secretary sought to clinch his

"I believe, from what I have heard of your work in the
past, that you could build an aeroplane which would win the
ten-thousand-dollar prize," he went on. "I would be very
glad if you did win it, and, so I think, would be the
gentlemen associated with me in this enterprise. It would be
fine to have a New York State youth win the grand prize.
Come, Tom Swift, build a special craft, and enter the

As he paused for an answer footsteps were heard coming
along the hall, and a moment later an aged gentleman opened
the door of the library.

"Oh! Excuse me, Tom," he said, "I didn't know you had
company." And he was about to withdraw.

"Don't go, father," said Tom. "You will be as much
interested in this as I am. This is Mr. Gunmore, of the
Eagle Park Aviation Association. This is my father, Mr.

"I've heard of you," spoke the secretary as he shook hands
with the aged inventor. "You and your son have made, in
aeronautics, a name to be proud of."

"And he wants us to go still farther, dad," broke in the
youth. "Me wants me to build a specially speedy aeroplane,
and race for ten thousand dollars."

"Hum!" mused Mr. Swift. "Well, are you going to do it,
Tom? Seems to me you ought to take a rest. You haven't been
back from your gold-hunting trip to Alaska long enough to
more than catch your breath, and now--"

"Oh, he doesn't have to go in this right away," eagerly
explained Mr. Gunmore. "There is plenty of time to make a
new craft."

"Well, Tom can do as he likes about it," said his father.
"Do you think you could build anything speedier than your
Butterfly, son?"

"I think so, father. That is, if you'd help me. I have a
plan partly thought out, but it will take some time to
finish it. Still, I might get it done in time."

"I hope you'll try!" exclaimed the secretary. "May I ask
whether it would be a monoplane or a biplane?"

"A monoplane, I think," answered Tom. "They are much more
speedy than the double-deckers, and if I'm going to try for
the ten thousand dollars I need the fastest machine I can

"We have the promise of one or two very fast monoplanes
for the meet," went on Mr. Gunmore. "Would yours be of a
new type?"

"I think it would," was the reply of the young inventor.
"In fact, I am thinking of making a smaller monoplane than
any that have yet been constructed, and yet one that will
carry two persons. The hardest work will be to make the
engine light enough and still have it sufficiently powerful
to make over a hundred miles an hour, if necessary.

"A hundred miles an hour in a small monoplane! It isn't
possible!" cried the secretary.

"I'll make better time than that," said Tom quietly, and
with not a trace of boasting in his tones.

"Then you'll enter the meet?" asked Mr. Gunmore eagerly.

"Well, I'll think about it," promised Tom. "I'll let you
know in a few days. Meanwhile, I'll be thinking out the
details for my new craft. I have been going to build one
ever since I got back, after having seen my Red Cloud
crushed in the ice cave. Now I think I had better begin
active work."

"I hope you will soon let me know," resumed the secretary.
"I'm going to put you down as a possible contestant for the
ten-thousand-dollar prize. That can do no harm, and I hope
you win it. I trust--"

He paused suddenly, and listened. So did Tom Swift and his
father, for they all distinctly heard stealthy footsteps
under the open windows of the library.

"Some one is out there, listening," said Tom in low tones.

"Perhaps it's Eradicate Sampson," suggested Mr. Swift,
referring to the eccentric colored man who was employed by
the inventor and his son to help around the place. "Very
likely it was Eradicate, Tom."

"I don't think so," was the lad's answer. "He went to the
village a while ago, and said he wouldn't be back until late
to-night. He had to get some medicine for his mule,
Boomerang, who is sick. No, it wasn't Eradicate; but some
one was under that window, trying to hear what we said."

As he spoke in guarded tones, Tom went softly to the
casement and looked out. He could observe nothing, as the
night was dark, and the new moon, which had been shining,
was now dimmed by clouds.

"See anything?" asked Mr. Gunmore as he advanced to Tom's

"No," was the low answer. I can't hear anything now,

"I'll go speak to Mrs. Baggert, the housekeeper,"
volunteered Mr. Swift. "Perhaps it was she, or she may know
something about it."

He started from the room, and as he went Tom noticed, with
something of a start, that his father appeared older that
night than he had ever looked before. There was a trace of
pain on the face of the aged inventor, and his step was

"I guess dad needs a rest and doctoring up," thought the
young inventor as he turned the electric chandelier off by a
button on the wall, in order to darken the room, so that he
might peer out to better advantage. "I think he's been
working too hard on his wireless motor. I must get Dr.
Gladby to come over and see dad. But now I want to find out
who that was under this window."

Once more Tom looked out. The moon had emerged from behind
a thin bank of clouds, and gave a little light.

"See anything?" asked Mr. Gunmore cautiously.

"No," whispered the youth, for it being a warm might, the
windows were open top and bottom, a screen on the outside
keeping out mosquitoes and other insects. "I can't see a
thing," went on Tom, "but I'm sure--"

He paused suddenly. As he spoke there sounded a rustling
in the shrubbery a little distance from the window.

"There's something!" exclaimed Mr. Gunmore.

"I see!" answered the young inventor.

Without another word he softly opened the screen, and
then, stooping down to get under the lower sash (for the
windows in the library ran all the way to the floor), Tom
dropped out of the casement upon the thick grass.

As he did so he was aware of a further movement in the
bushes. They were violently agitated, and a second later a
dark object sprang from them and sprinted along the path.

"Here! Who are you? Hold on!" cried the young inventor.

But the figure never halted. Tom sprang forward,
determined to see who it was, and, if possible, capture

"Hold on!" he cried again. There was no answer.

Tom was a good runner, and in a few seconds he had gained
on the fugitive, who could just be seen in the dim light
from the crescent moon.

"I've got you!" cried Tom.

But he was mistaken, for at that instant his foot caught
on the outcropping root of a tree, and the young inventor
went flat on his face.

"Just my luck!" he cried.

He was quickly on his feet again, and took after the
fugitive. The latter glanced back, and, as it happened, Tom
had a good look at his face. He almost came to a stop, so
startled was he.

"Andy Foger!" he exclaimed as he recognized the bully who
had always proved himself such an enemy of our hero. "Andy
Foger sneaking under my windows to hear what I had to say
about my new aeroplane! I wonder what his game can be? I'll
soon find out!"

Tom was about to resume the chase, when he lost sight of
the figure. A moment later he heard the puffing of an
automobile, as some one cranked it up.

"It's too late!" exclaimed Tom. "There he goes in his
car!" And knowing it would be useless to keep up the chase,
the youth turned back toward his house.

Chapter Two

Mr. Swift is Ill

"Who was it?" asked Mr. Gunmore as Tom again entered the library.
"A friend of yours?"

"Hardly a friend," replied Tom grimly. "It was a young
fellow who has made lots of trouble for me in the past, and
who, lately, with his father, tried to get ahead of me and
some friends of mine in locating a gold claim in Alaska. I
don't know what he's up to now, but certainly it wasn't any
good. He's got nerve, sneaking up under our windows!"

"What do you think was his object?"

"It would he hard to say."

"Can't you find him to-morrow, and ask him?"

"There's not much satisfaction in that. The less I have to
do with Andy Foger the better I'm satisfied. Well, perhaps
it's just as well I fell, and couldn't catch him. There
would have been a fight, and I don't want to worry dad any
more than I can help. He hasn't been very well of late."

"No, he doesn't look very strong," agreed the secretary.
"But I hope he doesn't get sick, and I hope no bad
consequences result from the eavesdropping of this Foger

Tom started for the hall, to get a brush with which to
remove some of the dust gathered in his chase after Andy. As
he opened the library door to go out Mr. Swift came in

"I saw Mrs. Baggert, Tom," he said. "She wasn't out under
the window, and, as you said, Eradicate isn't about. His
mule is in the barn, so it couldn't have been the animal
straying around."

"No, dad. It was Andy Foger."

"Andy Foger!"

"Yes. I couldn't catch him. But you'd better go lie down,
father. It's getting late, and you look tired."

"I am tired, Tom, and I think I'll go to bed. Have you
finished your arrangements with Mr. Gunmore?"

"Well, I guess we've gone as far as we can until I invent
the new aeroplane," replied Tom, with a smile.

"Then you'll really enter the meet?" asked the secretary

"I think I will," decided Tom. "The prize of ten thousand
dollars is worth trying for, and besides that, I'll be glad
to get to work again on a speedy craft. Yes, I'll enter the

"Good!" exclaimed Mr. Gunmore, shaking hands with the
young inventor. "I didn't have my trip for nothing, then.
I'll go back in the morning and report to the committee that
I've been successful. I am greatly obliged to you."

He left the Swift home, after refusing Tom's invitation to
remain all night, and went to his hotel. Tom then insisted
that his father retire.

As for the young inventor, he was not satisfied with the
result of his attempt to catch Andy Foger. He had no idea
why the bully was hiding under the library window, but Tom
surmised that some mischief might be afoot.

"Sam Snedecker or Pete Bailey, the two cronies of Andy,
may still be around here, trying to play some trick on me,"
mused Tom. "I think I'll take a look outside." And taking a
stout cane from the umbrella rack, the youth sallied forth
into the yard and extensive grounds surrounding his house.

While he is thus looking for possible intruders we will
tell you a little more about him than has been possible
since the call of the aviation secretary.

Tom Swift lived with his father, Barton Swift, in the town
of Shopton, New York State. The young man had followed in
the footsteps of his parent, and was already an inventor of

Their home was presided over by Mrs. Baggert, as
housekeeper, since Mrs. Swift had been dead several years.
In addition, there was Garret Jackson, an engineer, who
aided Tom and his father, and Eradicate Sampson, an odd
colored man, who, with his mule, Boomerang, worked about the

In the first volume of this series, entitled "Tom Swift
and his Motor-Cycle," here was related how he came to
possess that machine. A certain Mr. Wakefield Damon, an
eccentric gentleman, who was always blessing himself, or
something about him, owned the cycle, but he came to grief
on it, and sold it to Tom very cheaply.

Tom had a number of adventures on the wheel, and, after
having used the motor to save a valuable patent model from a
gang of unscrupulous men, the lad acquired possession of a
power boat, in which he made several trips, and took part in
many exciting happenings.

Some time later, in company with John Sharp, an aeronaut,
whom Tom had rescued from Lake Carlopa, after the airman had
nearly lost his life in a burning balloon, the young
inventor made a big airship, called the Red Cloud. With Mr.
Damon, Tom made several trips in this craft, as set forth in
the book, "Tom Swift and His Airship."

It was after this that Tom and his father built a
submarine boat, and went under the ocean for sunken
treasure, and, following that trip Tom built a speedy
electric runabout, and by a remarkable run in that, with Mr.
Damon, saved a bank from ruin, bringing gold in time to
stave off a panic.

"Tom Swift and His Wireless Message" told of the young
inventor's plan to save the castaways of Earthquake Island,
and how he accomplished it by constructing a wireless plant
from the remains of the wrecked airship Whizzer. After Tom
got back from Earthquake Island he went with Mr. Barcoe
Jenks, whom he met on the ill-fated bit of land, to discover
the secret of the diamond makers. They found the mysterious
men, but the trip was not entirely successful, for the
mountain containing the cave where the diamonds were made
was destroyed by a lightning shock, just as Mr. Parker, a
celebrated scientist, who accompanied the party, said it
would be.

But his adventure in seeking to discover the secret of
making precious stones did not satisfy Tom Swift, and when
he and his friends got back from the mountains they prepared
to go to Alaska to search for gold in the caves of ice. They
were almost defeated in their purpose by the actions of Andy
Foger and his father, who in an under-hand manner, got
possession of a valuable map, showing the location of the
gold, and made a copy of the drawing.

Then, when Tom and his friends set off in the Red Cloud,
as related in "Tom Swift in the Caves of Ice," the Fogers,
in another airship, did likewise. But Tom and his party were
first on the scene, and accomplished their purpose, though
they had to fight the savage Indians. The airship was
wrecked in a cave of ice, that collapsed on it, and the
survivors had desperate work getting away from the frozen

Tom had been home all the following winter and spring, and
he had done little more than work on some small inventions,
when a new turn was given his thoughts and energies by a
visit from Mr. Gunmore, as narrated in the first chapter of
the present volume.

"Well, I guess no one is here," remarked the young
inventor as he completed the circuit of the grounds and
walked slowly back toward the house. "I think I scared Andy
so that he won't come back right away. He had the laugh on
me, though, when I stumbled and fell."

As Tom proceeded he heard some one approaching, around the
path at the side of the house.

"Who's there?" he called quickly, taking a firmer grasp of
his stick,

"It's me, Massa Swift," was the response. "I jest come
back from town. I got some peppermint fo' mah mule,
Boomerang, dat's what I got."

"Oh! It's you, is it, Rad?" asked the youth in easier

"Dat's who it am, Did yo' t'ink it were some un else?"

"I did," replied Tom. "Andy Foger has been sneaking
around. Keep your eyes open the rest of the night, Rad."

"I will, Massa Tom."

The youth went into the house, having left word with the
engineer, Mr. Jackson, to be on the alert for anything

"And now I guess I'll go to bed, and make an early start
to-morrow morning, planning my new aeroplane," mused Tom.
"I'm going to make the speediest craft of the air ever

As he started toward his room Tom Swift
heard the voice of the housekeeper calling to him:

"Tom! Oh, Tom! Come here, quickly!"

"What's the matter?" he asked, in vague alarm.

"Something has happened to your father!" was the startling
reply. "He's fallen down, and is Unconscious! Come quickly!
Send for the doctor!"

Tom fairly ran toward his father's room.

Chapter Three

The Plans Disappear

Mr. Swift was lying on the floor, where he had fallen, in
front of his bed, as he was preparing to retire. There was
no mark of injury upon him, and at first, as he knelt down
at his father's side, Tom was at a loss to account for what
had taken place.

"How did it happen? When was it?" he asked of Mrs.
Baggert, as he held up his father's head, and noted that the
aged man was breathing slightly.

"I don't know what happened, Tom," answered the
housekeeper, "but I beard him fall, and ran upstairs, only
to find him lying there, just like that. Then I called you.
Hadn't you better have a doctor?"

"Yes; we'll need one at once. Send Eradicate Tell him to
run--not to wait for his mule--Boomerang is too slow. Oh,
no! The telephone, of course! Why didn't I think of that at
first? Please telephone for Dr. Gladby, Mrs. Baggert. Ask
him to come as soon as possible, and then tell Garret
Jackson to step here. I'll have him help me get father into

The housekeeper hastened to the instrument, and was soon
in communication with the physician, who promised to call at
once. The engineer was summoned from another part of the
house, and then Eradicate was aroused.

Mrs. Baggert had the colored man help her get some kettles
of hot water in readiness for possible use by the doctor.
Mr. Jackson aided Tom to lift Mr. Swift up on the bed, and
they got off some of his clothes.

"I'll try to see if I can revive him with a little
aromatic spirits of ammonia," decided Tom, as he noticed
that his father was still unconscious. He hastened to
prepare the strong spirits, while he was conscious of a
feeling of fear and alarm, mingled with sadness.

Suppose his father should die? Tom could not bear to think
of that. He would be left all alone, and how much he would
miss the companionship and comradeship of his father none
but himself knew.

"Oh! but I mustn't think he's going to die!" exclaimed the
youth, as he mixed the medicine.

Mr. Swift feebly opened his eyes after Tom and Mr. Jackson
had succeeded in forcing some of the ammonia between his

"Where am I? What happened?" asked the aged inventor

"We don't know, exactly," spoke Tom softly. "You are ill,
father. I've sent for the doctor. He'll fix you up. He'll be
here soon."

"Yes, I'm--I'm ill," murmured the aged man. "Something
hurts me--here," and he put his hand over his heart.

Tom felt a nameless sense of fear. He wished now that he
had insisted on his parent consulting a physician some time
before, when Mr. Swift first complained of a minor ailment.
Perhaps now it was too late.

"Oh! when will that doctor come?" murmured Tom

Mrs. Baggert, who was nervously going in and out of the
room, again went to the telephone.

"He's on his way," the housekeeper reported. "His wife
said he just started out in his auto."

Dr. Gladby hurried into the room a little later, and cast
a quick look at Mr. Swift, who had again lapsed into

"Do you think he--think he's going to die?" faltered Tom.
He was no longer the self-reliant young inventor. He could
meet danger bravely when it threatened himself alone, but
when his father was stricken he seemed to lose all courage.

"Die? Nonsense!" exclaimed the doctor heartily. "He's not
dead yet, at all events, and while there's life there's
hope. I'll soon have him out of this spell."

It was some little time, however, before Mr. Swift again
opened his eyes, but he seemed to gain strength from the
remedies which Dr. Gladby administered, and in about an hour
the inventor could sit up.

"But you must be careful," cautioned the physician. "Don't
overdo yourself. I'll be in again in the morning, and now
I'll leave you some medicine, to be taken every two hours."

"Oh, I feel much better," said Mr. Swift, and his voice
certainly seemed Stronger. "I can't imagine what happened. I
came upstairs, after Tom had received a visit from the
minister, and that's all I remember."

"The minister, father!" exclaimed Tom, in great amazement.
"The minister wasn't here this evening! That was Mr.
Gunmore, the aviation secretary. Don't you remember?"

"I don't remember any gentleman like that calling here
to-night," Mr. Swift said blankly. "It was the minister, I'm
sure, Tom."

"The minister was here last night, Mr. Swift," said the

"Was he? Why, it seems like to-night. And I came upstairs
after talking to him, and then it all got black, and--and--"

"There, now; don't try to think," advised the doctor.
"You'll be all right in the morning."

"But I can't remember anything about that aviation man,"
protested Mr. Swift. "I never used to be that way--
forgetting things. I don't like it!"

"Oh, it's just because you're tired," declared the
physician. "It will all come back to you in the morning.
I'll stop in and see you then. Now try to go to sleep." And
he left the room.

Tom followed him, Mrs. Baggert and Mr. Jackson remaining
with the sick man.

"What is the matter with my father, Dr. Gladby?" asked Tom
earnestly, as the doctor prepared to take his departure.
"Is it anything serious?"

"Well," began the medical man, "I would not be doing my
duty, Tom, if I did not tell you what it is. That is, it is
comparatively serious, but it is curable, and I think we can
bring him around. He has an affection of the heart, that,
while it is common enough, is sometimes fatal.

"But I do not think it will be so in your father's case.
He has a fine constitution, and this would never have
happened had he not been run down from overwork. That is the
principal trouble. What he needs is rest; and then, with the
proper remedies, he will be as well as before."

"But that strange lapse of memory, doctor?"

"Oh, that is nothing. It is due to the fact that he has
been using his brain too much. The brain protests, and
refuses to work until rested. Your father has been working
rather hard of late hasn't he?"

"Yes; on a new wireless motor."

"I thought so. Well, a good rest is what he needs, and
then his mind and body will be in tune again. I'll be around
in the morning."

Tom was somewhat relieved by the doctor's words, but not
very much so, and he spent an anxious night, getting up
every two hours to administer the medicine. Toward morning
Mr. Swift fell into a heavy sleep, and did not awaken for
some time.

"Oh, you're much better!" declared Dr. Gladby when he saw
his patient that day.

"Yes, I feel better," admitted Mr Swift.

"And can't you remember about Mr. Gunmore calling?" asked

The aged inventor shook his head, with a puzzled air.

"I can't remember it at all," he said. "The minister is
the last person I remember calling here."

Tom looked worried, but the physician said it was a common
feature of the disease from which Mr. Swift suffered, and
would doubtless pass away.

"And you don't remember how we talked about me building a
speedy aeroplane and trying for the ten-thousand-dollar
prize?" asked Tom.

"I can't remember a thing about it," said the inventor,
with a puzzled shake of his head, "and I'm not going to try,
at least not right away. But, Tom, if you're going to build
a new aeroplane, I want to help you. I'll give you the
benefit of my advice. I think my new form of motor can be
used in it."

"Now! now! No inventions--at least not just yet!" objected
the physician. "You must have a good rest first, Mr. Swift,
and get strong. Then you and Tom can build as many airships
as you like."

Mr. Swift felt so much better about three days later that
he wanted to get right to work planning the airship that was
to win the big prize, but the doctor would not hear of it.
Tom, however, began to make rough sketches of what he had in
mind changing them from time to time, He also worked on a
type of motor, very light, and modeled after one his father
had recently patented.

Then a new idea came to Tom in regard to the shape of his
aeroplane, and he worked several days drawing the plans for
it. It was a new idea in construction, and he believed it
would give him the great speed he desired.

"But I'd like dad to see it," he said. "As soon as he's
well enough I'll go over it with him."

That time came a week later, and with a complete set of
the plans, embodying his latest ideas, Tom went into the
library where his father was seated in an easy-chair. Dr.
Gladby had said it would not now harm the aged inventor to
do a little work. Tom spread the drawings out in front of
his father, and began to explain them in detail.

"I really think you have something great there, Tom!"
exclaimed Mr. Swift, at length. "It is a very small
monoplane, to be sure, but I think with the new principle
you have introduced it will work; but, if I were you, I'd
shape those wing tips a little differently."

"No, they're better that way," said Tom pleasantly, for he
did not often disagree with his father. "I'll show you from
a little model I have made. I'll get it right away."

Anxious to demonstrate that he was right in his theory,
Tom hurried from the library to get the model of which he
had spoken. He left the roll of plans lying on a small table
near where his father was seated.

"There, you see, dad," said the young inventor as he re-
entered the library a few minutes later, "when you warp the
wing tips in making a spiral ascent it throws your tail
wings out of plumb, and so--"

Tom paused in some amazement, for Mr. Swift was lying back
in his chair, with his eyes closed. The lad started in
alarm, laid aside his model, and sprang to his father's

"He's had another of those heart attacks!" gasped Tom. He
was just going to call Mrs. Baggert, when Mr. Swift opened
his eyes. He looked at Tom, and the lad could see that they
were bright, and did not show any signs of illness.

"Well, I declare!" exclaimed the inventor. "I must have
dozed off, Tom, while you were gone. That's what I did. I
fell asleep!"

"Oh!" said Tom, much relieved. "I was afraid you were ill
again. Now, in this model, as you will see by the plans, it
is necessary--"

He paused, and looked over at the table where he had left
the drawings. They were not there!

"The plans, father!" Tom exclaimed. "The plans I left on
the table! Where are they?"

"I haven't touched them," was the answer. "They were on
that table, where you put them, when I closed my eyes for a
little nap. I forgot all about them. Are you sure they're

"They're not here!" And Tom gazed wildly about the room.
"Where can they have gone?"

"I wasn't out of my chair," said Mr. Swift, "I ought not
to have gone to sleep, but--"

Tom fairly jumped toward the long library window, the same
one from which he had leaped to pursue Andy Foger. The
casement was open, and Tom noted that the screen was also
unhooked, It had been closed when he went to get the model,
he was sure of that.

"Look, dad! See!" he exclaimed, as he picked up from the
floor a small piece of paper.

"What is it, Tom?"

"A sheet on which I did some figuring. It is no good, but
it was in with the plans. It must have dropped out."

"Do you mean that some one has been in here and taken the
plans of your new aeroplane, Tom?" gasped his father.

"That's just what I mean! They sneaked in here while you
were dozing, took the plans, and jumped out of the window
with them. On the way this paper fell out. It's the only
clue we have. Stay here, dad. I'm going to have a look." And
Tom jumped from the library window and ran down the path
after the unknown thief.

Chapter Four

Anxious Days

Peering on all sides as he dashed along the gravel walk,
hoping to catch a glimpse of the unknown intruder in the
garden or shrubbery, Tom sprinted on at top speed. Now and
then he paused to listen, but no sound came to him to tell
of some one in retreat before him. There was only Silence.

"Mighty queer," mused the youth. "Whoever it was, he
couldn't have had more than a minute start of me--no, not
even half a minute--and yet they've disappeared as
completely as though the ground had opened and let them
down; and the worst of it is, that they've taken my plans
with them!"

He turned about and retraced his steps, making a careful
search. He saw no one, until, turning a corner, a little
later, he met Eradicate Sampson.

"You haven't seen any strangers around here just now, have
you, Rad?" asked Tom anxiously.

"No, indeedy, I hasn't, Massa Tom. What fo' kind ob a
stranger was him?"

"That's just what I don't know. Rad. But some one sneaked
into the library lust now and took some of my plans while my
father dozed off. I jumped out after him as soon as I could,
but he has disappeared."

"Maybe it were th' man who done stowed hisself away on yo'
airship, de time yo' all went after de diamonds," suggested
the colored man.

"No, it couldn't have been him. If it was anybody, it was
Andy Foger, or some of his crowd. You didn't see Andy, did
you, Rad?"

"No, indeedy; but if I do, I suah will turn mah mule,
Boomerang, loose on him, an' he won't take any mo' plans--
not right off, Massa Tom."

"No, I guess not. Well, I must get back to dad, or he'll
worry. Keep your eyes open, Rad, and if you see Andy Foger,
or any one else, around here, let me know. Just sing out for
all you're worth."

"Shall I call out, Massa Tom, ef I sees dat blessin' man?"

"You mean Mr. Damon?"

"Dat's de one. De gen'man what's allers a-blessin' ob
hisself or his shoelaces, or suffin laik dat. Shall I sing
out ef I sees him?"

"Well, no; not exactly, Rad. Just show Mr. Damon up to the
house. I'd be glad to see him again, though I don't fancy
he'll call. He's off on a little trip, and won't be back for
a week. But watch out, Rad." And with that Tom turned toward
the house, shaking his head over the puzzle of the missing

"Did you find any one?" asked his father eagerly as the
young inventor entered the library.

"No," was the gloomy answer. "There wasn't a sign of any

Tom went over to the window and looked about for clues.
There was none that he could see, and a further examination
of the ground under the window disclosed nothing. There was
gravel beneath the casement, and this was not the best
medium for retaining footprints. Nor were the gravel walks
any better.

"Not a sign of any one," murmured Tom. "Are you sure you
didn't hear any noise, dad, when you dozed off?"

"Not a sound, Tom. In fact, it's rather unusual for me to
go to sleep like that, but I suppose it's because of my
illness. But I couldn't have been asleep long--not more
than two minutes."

"That's what I think. Yet in that time someone, who must
have been on the watch, managed to get in here and take my
plans for the new sky racer. I don't see how they got the
wire screen open from the outside, though. It fastens with a
strong hook."

"And was the screen open?" asked Mr. Swift

"Yes, it was unhooked. Either they pushed a wire in
through the mesh, caught it under the hook, and pulled it up
from the outside, or else the screen was opened from the

"I don't believe they could get inside to open the screen
without some of us seeing them," spoke the older inventor.
"More likely, Tom, it wasn't hooked, and they found it an
easy matter to simply pull it open."

"That's possible. I'll ask Mrs. Baggert if the screen was

But the housekeeper could not be certain on that point,
and so that part of the investigation amounted to nothing.

"It's too bad!" exclaimed Mr. Swift. "It's my fault, for
dozing off that way."

"No, indeed, it isn't!" declared Tom stoutly.

"Is the loss a serious one?" asked his father. "Have you
no copy of the plans?"

"Yes, I have a rough draft from which I made the completed
drawings, and I can easily make another set. But that isn't
what worries me--the mere loss of the plans."

"What is it, then, Tom?"

"The fact that whoever took them must know what they are
the plans for a sky racer that is to take part in the big
meet. I have worked it out on a new principle, and it is not
yet patented. Whoever stole my plans can make the same kind
of a sky racer that I intended to construct, and so stand as
good a chance to win the prize of ten thousand dollars as I

"That certainly is too bad, Tom. I never thought of that.
Do you suspect any one?"

"No one, unless it's Andy Foger. He's mean enough to do a
thing like that, but I didn't think he'd have the nerve.
However, I'll see if I can learn anything about him. He may
have been sneaking around, and if he has my plans he'd ask
nothing better than to make a sky racer and beat me."

"Oh, Tom, I'm so sorry!" exclaimed Mr. Swift "I--I feel
very bad about it!"

"There, never mind!" spoke the lad, seeing that his father
was looking ill again. "Don't think any more about it, dad.
I'll get back those plans. Come, now. It's time for your
medicine, and then you must lie down." For the aged inventor
was looking tired and weak.

Wearily he let Tom lead him to his room, and after seeing
that the invalid was comfortable Tom called up Dr. Gladby,
to have him come and see Mr. Swift. The doctor said his
patient had been overdoing himself a little, and must rest
more if he was to completely recover.

Learning that his father was no worse, Tom set off to find
Andy Foger.

"I can't rest until I know whether or not he has my
plans," he said to himself. "I don't want to make a speedy
aeroplane, and find out at the last minute that Andy, or
some of his cronies, have duplicated it."

But Tom got little satisfaction from Andy Foger. When that
bully was accused of having been around Tom's house he
denied it, and though the young inventor did not actually
accuse him of taking the plans, he hinted at it. Andy
muttered many indignant negatives, and called on some of his
cronies to witness that at the time the plans were taken he
and they were some distance from the Swift home.

So Tom was baffled; and though he did not believe the
red-haired lad's denial, there was no way in which he could
prove to the contrary.

"If he didn't take the plans, who did?" mused Tom.

As the young inventor turned away after cross-questioning
Andy, the bully called out:

"You'll never win that ten thousand dollars!"

"What do you know about that?" demanded Tom quickly.

"Oh, I know," sneered Andy. "There'll be bigger and better
aeroplanes in that meet than you can make, and you'll never
win the prize."

"I suppose you heard about the affair by sneaking around
under our windows, and listening," said Tom.

"Never mind how I know it, but I do," retorted the bully.

"Well, I'll tell you one thing," said Tom calmly. "If you
come around again it won't be healthy for you. Look out for
live wires, if you try to do the listening act any more,
Andy!" And with that ominous warning Tom turned away.

"What do you suppose he means, Andy?" asked Pete Bailey,
one of Andy's cronies.

"It means he's got electrical wires strung around his
place," declared Sam Snedecker, "and that we'll be shocked
if we go up there. I'm not going!"

"Me, either," added Pete, and Andy laughed uneasily.

Tom heard what they said, and in the next few days he made
himself busy by putting some heavy wires in and about the
grounds where they would show best. But the wires carried no
current, and were only displayed to impress a sense of fear
on Andy and his cronies, which purpose they served well.

But it was like locking the stable door after the horse
had been stolen, for with all the precautions he could take
Tom could not get back his plans, and he spent many anxious
days seeking them. They seemed to have completely
disappeared, however, and the young inventor decided there
was nothing else to do but to draw new ones.

He set to work on them, and in the meanwhile tried to
learn whether or not Andy had the missing plans. He sought
this information by stealth, and was aided by his chum, Ned
Newton. But all to no purpose. Not the slightest trace or
clue was discovered.

Chapter Five

Building the Sky Racer

"What will you do, if, after you have your little
monoplane all constructed, and get ready to race, you find
that some one else has one exactly like it at the meet?,"
asked Ned Newton one day, when he and Tom were out in the
big workshop, talking things over. "What will you do, Tom?"

"I don't see that there is anything I can do. I'll go on
to the meet, of course, and trust to some improvements I
have since brought out, and to what I know about aeroplanes,
to help me win the race. I'll know, too, who stole my

"But it will be too late, then."

"Yes, too late, perhaps, to stop them from using the
drawings, hot not too late to punish them for the theft.
It's a great mystery, and I'll be on the anxious seat all
the while. But it can't be helped."

"When are you going to start work on the sky racer?"

"Pretty soon, now. I've got another set of plans made, and
I've fixed them so that if they are stolen it won't do any
one any good."

"How's that?"

"I've put in a whole lot of wrong figures and
measurements, and scores of lines and curves that mean
nothing. I have marked the right figures and lines by a
secret mark, and when I work on them I'll use only the
proper ones. But any one else wouldn't know this. Oh, I'll
fool 'em this time!"

"I hope you do. Well, when you get the machine done I'd
like to ride in it. Will it carry two, as your Butterfly

"Yes, only it will be much different; and, of course, it
will go much faster. I'll give you a ride, all right, Ned.
Well, now I must get busy and see what material I need for
what I hope will prove to be the speediest aeroplane in the

"That's going some! I must be leaving now. Don't forget
your promise. I saw Mary Nestor on my way over here. She was
asking for you. She said you must be very busy, for she
hadn't seen you in some time."

"Um!" was all Tom answered, but by the blush that mounted
to his face it was evident that he was more interested in
Mary Nestor than his mere exclamation indicated.

When Ned had gone Tom got out pencil and paper, and was
busily engaged in making some intricate calculations. He
drew odd little sketches on the margin of the sheet, and
then wrote out a list of the things he would need to
construct the new aeroplane.

This finished, he went to Mr. Jackson, the engineer, and
asked him to get the various things together, and to have
them put in the special shop where Tom did most of his work.

"I want to get the machine together as soon as I can," he
remarked to the engineer, "for it will need to be given a
good tryout before I enter in the race, and I may find that
I'll have to make several changes in it."

Mr. Jackson promised to attend to the matter right away,
and then Tom went in to talk to his father about the motor
that was to whirl the propeller of the new air craft.

Mr. Swift had improved very much in the past few days, and
though Dr. Gladby said he was far from being well, the
physician declared there was no reason why he should not do
some inventive work.

He and Tom were deep in an argument of gasoline motors,
discussing the best manner of attaching the fins to the
cylinders to make them air-cooled, when a voice sounded
outside, the voice of Eradicate:

"Heah! Whar yo' goin'?" demanded the colored man. "Whar
yo' goin'?"

"Somebody's out in the garden!" exclaimed Tom, jumping up

"Perhaps it's the same person who took the plans!"
suggested Mr. Swift.

"Hold on, dere!" yelled Eradicate again.

Then a voice replied:

"Bless my insurance policy! What's the matter? Have there
been burglars around? Why all these precautions? Bless my
steam heater! Don't you know me?"

"Mr. Damon!" cried Tom, a look of pleasure coming over his
face. "Mr. Damon is coming!"

"So I should judge," responded Mr. Swift, with a smile. "I
wonder why Eradicate didn't recognize him?"

They learned why a moment later, for on looking from the
library window, Tom saw the colored man coming up the walk
behind a well-dressed gentleman.

"Why, mah goodness! It's Mr. Damon!" exclaimed Eradicate.
"I didn't know yo', sah, wif dem whiskers on! I didn't, fo'
a fac'!"

"Bless my razor! I suppose it does make a difference,"
said the eccentric man. "Yes, my wife thought I'd look
better, and more sedate, with a beard, so I grew one to
please her. But I don't like it. A beard is too warm this
kind of weather; eh, Tom?" And Mr. Damon waved his hand to
the young inventor and his father, who stood in the low
windows of the library. "Entirely too warm, bless my finger-
nails, yes!"

"I agree with you!" exclaimed Tom. "Come in! We're glad to
see you!"

"I called to see if you aren't going on another trip to
the North Pole, or somewhere in the Arctic regions," went on
Mr. Damon.

"Why?" inquired Tom.

"Why, then this heavy beard of mine would come in handy.
It would keep my throat and chin warm." And Mr. Damon ran
his hands through his luxuriant whiskers.

"No more northern trips right away," said Tom. "I'm about
to build a speedy monoplane, to take part in the big meet at
Eagle Park."

"Oh, yes, I heard about the meet," said Mr. Damon. "I'd
like to be in that."

"Well, I'm building a machine that will carry two," went
on Tom, "and if you think you can stand a speed of a hundred
miles an hour, or better, I'll let you come with me. There
are some races where a passenger is allowed."

"Have you got a razor?" asked Mr. Damon suddenly.

"What for?" inquired Mr. Swift, wondering what the
eccentric man was going to do.

"Why, bless my shaving soap! I'm going to cut off my
beard. If I go in a monoplane at a hundred miles an hour I
don't want to make any more resistance to the wind than
possible, and my whiskers would certainly hold back Tom's
machine. Where's a razor? I'm going to shave at once. My
wife won't mind when I tell her what it's for. Lend me a
razor, please, Tom."

"Oh, there's plenty of time," explained the lad, with a
laugh. "The race doesn't take place for over two months. But
when it does, I think you would be better off without a

"I know it," said Mr. Damon simply. "I'll shave before we
enter the contest, Tom. But now tell me all about it."

Tom did so, relating the story of the theft
of the plans. Mr. Damon was for having Andy arrested at
once, but Mr. Swift and his son pointed out that they had no
evidence against him.

"All we can do," said the young inventor, "is to keep
watch on him, and see if he is building another aeroplane.
He has all the facilities, and he may attempt to get ahead
of me. If he enters a sky craft at the meet I'll be pretty
sure that he has made it from my stolen plans."

"Bless my wing tips!" cried Mr. Damon. "But can't we do
anything to stop him?"

"I'm afraid not," answered Tom; and then he showed Mr.
Damon his re-drawn plans, and told in detail of how he
intended to construct the new aeroplane.

The eccentric man remained as the guest of the Swift
family that night, departing for his home the next day, and
promising to be on hand as soon as Tom was ready to test his
new craft, which would he in about a month.

As the days passed, Tom, with the help of his father,
whose health was slightly better, and with the aid of Mr.
Jackson, began work on the speedy little sky racer.

As you boys are all more or less familiar with aeroplanes,
we will not devote much space to the description of the new
one Tom Swift made. We can describe it in general terms, but
there were some features of it which Tom kept a secret from
all save his father.

Suffice it to say that Tom had decided to build a small
air craft of the single-wing type, known as the monoplane.
It was to be a cross between the Bleriot and the Antoinette,
with the general features of both, but with many changes or

The wings were shaped somewhat like those of a humming-
bird, which, as is well known, can, at times, vibrate its
wings with such velocity that the most rapid camera lens
cannot quite catch

And when it is known that a bullet in flight has been
successfully photographed, the speed of the wings of the
humming-bird can be better appreciated.

The writer has seen a friend, with a very rapid camera,
which was used to snap automobiles in flight, attempt to
take a picture of a humming-bird. He got the picture, all
right, but the plate was blurred, showing that the wings had
moved faster than the lens could throw them on the
sensitive plate.

Not that Tom intended the wings of his monoplane to
vibrate, but he adopted that style as being the best adapted
to allow of rapid flight through the air; and the young
inventor had determined that he would clip many minutes
from the best record yet made.

The body of his craft, between the forward wings and the
rear ones, where the rudders were located, was shaped like a
cigar, with side wings somewhat like the fin keels of the
ocean liner to prevent a rolling motion. In addition, Tom
had an ingenious device to automatically adapt his monoplane
to sudden currents of air that might overturn it, and this
device was one of the points which he kept secret.

The motor, which was air-cooled, was located forward, and
was just above the heads of the operator and the passenger
who sat beside him. The single propeller, which was ten feet
in diameter, gave a minimum thrust of one thousand pounds at
two thousand revolutions per minute.

This was one feature wherein Tom's craft differed from
others. The usual aeroplane propeller is eight feet in
diameter, and gives from four to five hundred pounds thrust
at about one thousand revolutions per minute, so it can be
readily seen wherein Tom had an advantage.

"But I'm building this for speed," he said to Mr. Jackson,
"and I'm going to get it! We'll make a hundred miles an hour
without trouble."

"I believe you," replied the engineer. "The motor you and
your father have made is a wonder for lightness and power."

In fact, the whole monoplane was so light and frail as to
give one the idea of a rather large model, instead of a real
craft, intended for service. But a careful inspection showed
the great strength it had, for it was braced and guyed in a
new way, and was as rigid as a steel-trussed bridge.

"What are you going to call her?" asked Mr. Jackson, about
two weeks after they had started work on the craft, and when
it had begun to assume shape and form.

"I'm going to name her the Humming-Bird," replied Tom.
"She's little, but oh, my!"

"And I guess she'll bring home the prize," added the

And as the days went by, and Tom, his father and Mr.
Jackson continued to work on the speedy craft, this hope
grew in the heart of the young inventor. But he could not
rid himself of worry as to the fate of the plans that had
disappeared. Who had them? Was some one making a machine
like his own from them? Tom wished he knew.

Chapter Six

Andy Foger Will Contest

One afternoon, as Tom was working away in the shop on his
sky racer, adjusting one of the rear rudders, and pausing
now and then to admire the trim little craft, he heard some
one approaching. Looking out through a small observation
peephole made for this purpose, he saw Mrs. Baggert hurrying
toward the building.

"I wonder what's the matter?" he said aloud, for there was
a look of worriment on the lady's face. Tom threw open the
door. "What is it, Mrs. Baggert?" he called. "Some one up at
the house who wants to see me?"

"No, it's your father!" panted the housekeeper, for she
was quite stout. "He is very ill again, and I can't seem to
get Dr. Gladby on the telephone. Central says he doesn't

"My father worse!" cried Tom in alarm, dropping his tools
and hurrying from the shop. "Where's Eradicate? Send him for
the doctor. Perhaps the wires are broken. If he can't locate
Dr. Gladby, get Dr. Kurtz. We must have some one. Here, Rad!
Where are you?" he called, raising his voice.

"Heah I be!" answered the colored man, coming from the
direction of the garden, which he had been weeding.

"Get cut your mule, and go for Dr. Gladby. If he isn't
home, get Dr. Kurtz. Hurry, Rad!"

"I's mighty sorry, Massa Tom," answered the colored man,
"but I cain't hurry, nohow."

"Why not?"

"Because Boomerang done gone lame, an' he won't run. I'll
go mahse'f, but I cain't take dat air mule."

"Never mind. I'll go in the Butterfly," decided Tom
quickly. "I'll run up to the house and see how dad is, and
while I'm gone, Rad, you get out the Butterfly. I can make
the trip in that. If Dr. Kurtz had a 'phone I could get him,
but he lives over on the back road, where there isn't a
line. Hurry, Rad!"

"Yes, sah, Massa Tom, I'll hurry!"

The colored man knew how to get the monoplane in shape for
a flight, as he had often done it.

Tom found his father in no immediate danger, but Mr.
Swift had had a slight recurrence of his heart trouble, and
it was thought best to have a doctor. So Tom started off in
his air craft, rising swiftly above the housetop, and sailed
off toward the old-fashioned residence of Dr. Kurtz, a
sturdy, elderly German physician, who sometimes attended Mr.
Swift. Tom decided that as long as Dr. Gladby did not answer
his 'phone, he could not be at home, and this, he learned
later, was the case, the physician being in a distant town
on a consultation.

"My, this Butterfly seems big and clumsy beside my
Humming-Bird," mused Tom as he slid along through the air,
now flying high and now low, merely for practice. "This
machine can go, hut wait until I have my new one in the air!
Then I'll show 'em what speed is!"

He was soon at the physician's house, and found him in.

"Won't you ride back with me in the monoplane?" asked Tom.
"I'm anxious to have you see dad as soon as you can.

"Vot! Me drust mineself in one ob dem airships? I dinks
not!" exclaimed Dr. Kurtz ponderously. "Vy, I vould not
efen ride in an outer-mobile, yet, so vy should I go in von
contrivance vot is efen more dangerous? No, I gomes to your
fader in der carriage, mit mine old Dobbin horse. Dot vill
not drop me to der ground, or run me up a tree, yet! Vot?"

"Very well," said Tom, "only hurry, please."

The young inventor, in his airship, reached home some time
before the slow-going doctor got there in his carriage. Mr.
Swift was no worse, Tom was glad to find, though he was
evidently quite ill.

"So, ve must take goot care of him," said the doctor, when
he had examined the patient. "Dr. Gladby he has done much
for him, und I can do little more. You must dake care of
yourself, Herr Swift, or you vill--but den, vot is der use of
being gloomy-minded? I am sure you vill go more easy, und
not vork so much."

"I haven't worked much," replied the aged inventor. "I
have only been helping my son on a new airship."

"Den dot must stop," insisted the doctor. "You must haf
gomplete rest--dot's it--gomplete rest."

"We'll do just as you say, doctor," said Tom. "We'll give
up the aeroplane matters, dad, and go away, you and I, where
we can t see a blueprint or a pattern, or hear the sound of
machinery. We'll cut it all out."

"Dot vould he goot," said Dr. Kurtz ponderously.

"No, I couldn't think of it," answered Mr. Swift. "I want
you to go in that race, Tom--and win!"

"But I'll not do it, dad, if you're going to be ill."

"He is ill now," interrupted the doctor. "Very ill, Dom

"That settles it. I don't go in the race. You and I'll go
away, dad--to California, or up in Canada. We'll travel for
your health."

"No! no!" insisted the old inventor gently. "I will be all
right. Most of the work on the monoplane is done now, isn't
it, Tom?"

"Yes, dad."

"Then you go on, and finish it. You and Mr. Jackson can do
it without me now. I'll take a rest, doctor, but I want my
son to enter that race, and, what's more, I want him to

"Vell, if you don't vork, dot is all I ask. I must forbid
you to do any more. Mit Dom, dot is different. He is young
und strong, und he can vork. But you--not, Herr Swift, or I
doctor you no more." And the physician shook his big head.

"Very well. I'll agree to that if Tom will promise to
enter the race," said the inventor.

"I will," said Tom.

The physician took his leave shortly after that, the
medicine he gave to Mr. Swift somewhat relieving him. Then
the young inventor, who felt in a little better spirits,
went back to his workshop.

"Poor dad," he mused. "He thinks more of me and this
aeroplane than he does of himself. Well, I will go in the
race, and I'll--yes, I'll win!" And Tom looked very

He was about to resume work on his craft when something
about the way one of the forward planes was tilted attracted
his attention.

"I never left it that way," mused Tom. "Some one has been
in here. I wonder if it was Mr. Jackson?"

Tom stepped to the door and called for Eradicate. The
colored man came from the direction of the garden, which he
was still weeding.

"Has Mr. Jackson been around, Rad?" asked the lad.

"No, sah. I ain't seed him."

"Have you been in here, looking at the Humming-Bird?"

"No, Massa Tom. I nebber goes in dere, lessen as how yo'
is dere. Dem's yo' orders."

"That's so, Rad. I might have known you wouldn't go in.
But did you see any one enter the shop?"

"Not a pusson, sab."

"Have you been here all the while?"

"All but jes' a few minutes, when I went to de barn to put
some liniment on Boomerang's So' foot."

"H'm! Some one might have slipped in here while I was
away," mused Tom. "I ought to have locked the doors, but I
was in a hurry. This thing is getting on my nerves. I wonder
if it's Andy Foger, or some one else, who is after my

He made a hasty examination of the shop, but could
discover nothing more wrong, except that one of the planes
of the Humming-Bird had been shifted.

"It looks as if they were trying to see how it was
fastened on, and how it worked," mused Tom. "But my plans
haven't been touched, and no damage has been done. Only I
don't like to think that people have been in here. They may
have stolen some of my ideas. I must keep this place locked
night and day after this."

Tom spent a busy week in making improvements on his
craft. Mr. Swift was doing well, and after a consultation by
Dr. Kurtz and Dr. Gladby it was decided to adopt a new style
of treatment. In the meanwhile, Mr. Swift kept his promise,
and did no work. He sat in his easy-chair, out in the
garden, and dozed away, while Tom visited him frequently to
see if he needed anything.

"Poor old dad!" mused the young inventor. "I hope he is
well enough to come and see me try for the ten-thousand-
dollar prize--and win it! I hope I do; but if some one
builds, from my stolen plans, a machine on this model, I'll
have my work cut out for me." And he gazed with pride on
the Humming-Bird.

For the past two weeks Tom had seen nothing of Andy Foger.
The red-haired bully seemed to have dropped out of sight,
and even his cronies, Sam Snedecker and Pete Bailey, did
not know where he had gone.

"I hope he has gone for good," said Ned Newton, who lived
near Andy. "He's an infernal nuisance. I wish he'd never
come back to Shopton."

But Andy was destined to come back.

One day, when Tom was busy installing a wireless apparatus
on his new aeroplane, he heard Eradicate hurrying up the
path that led to the shop.

"I wonder if dad is worse?" thought Tom, that always being
his first idea when he knew a summons was coming for him.
Quickly be opened the door.

"Some one's comin' out to see you, Massa Tom," said the
colored man.

"Who is it?" asked the lad, taking the precaution to put
his precious plans out of sight.

"I dunno, sah; but yo' father knows him, an' he said fo'
me to come out heah, ahead ob de gen'man, an' tell yo' he
were comin'. He'll be right heah."

"Oh, well, if dad knows him, it's all right. Let him come,

"Yes, sah. Heah he comes." And the colored man pointed to
a figure advancing down the gravel path. Tom watched the
stranger curiously. There was something familiar about him,
and Tom was sure he had met him before, yet he could not
seem to place him.

"How are you, Tom Swift?" greeted the newcomer pleasantly.
"I guess you've forgotten me, haven't you?" He held out his
hand, which Tom took. "Don't know me, do you?" he went on.

"Well, I'm afraid I've forgotten your name," admitted the
lad, just a bit embarrassed. "But your face is familiar,
somehow, and yet it isn't"

"I've shaved off my mustache," went on the other. "That
makes a difference. But you haven't forgotten John Sharp,
the balloonist, whom you rescued from Lake Carlopa, and who
helped you build the Red Cloud? You haven't forgotten John
Sharp, have you, Tom?"

"Well, I should say not!" cried the lad heartily. "I'm
real glad to see you. What are you doing around here? Come
in. I've got something to show you," and he motioned to the
shop where the Humming-Bird was housed.

"Oh, I know what it is," said the veteran balloonist.

"You do?"

"Yes. It's your new aeroplane. In fact, I came to see you
about it."

"To see me about it?"

"Yes. I'm one of the committee of arrangements for the
meet to be held at Eagle Park, where I understand you are
going to contest. I came to see how near you were ready, and
to get you to make a formal entry of your machine. Mr.
Gunmore sent me."

"Oh, so you're in with them now, eh?" asked Tom. "Well,
I'm glad to know I've got a friend on the committee. Yes, my
machine is getting along very well. I'll soon be ready for a
trial flight. Come in and look at it. I think it's a bird--a
regular Humming-Bird!" And Tom laughed.

"It certainly is something new," admitted Mr. Sharp as his
eyes took in the details of the trim little craft. "By the
way, Shopton is going to be well represented at the meet."

"How is that? I thought I was the only one around here to
enter an aeroplane."

"No. We have just received an entry from Andy Foger."

"From Andy Foger!" gasped Tom. "Is he going to try to win
some of the prizes?"

"He's entered for the big one, the ten-thousand-dollar
prize," replied the balloonist. "He has made formal
application to be allowed to compete, and we have to accept
any one who applies. Why, do you object to him, Tom?"

"Object to him? Mr. Sharp, let me tell you something. Some
time ago a set of plans of my machine here were stolen from
my house. I suspected Andy Foger of taking them, but I could
get no proof. Now you say he is building a machine to
compete for the big prize. Do you happen to know what style
it is?"

"It's a small monoplane, something like the Antoinette,
his application states, though he may change it later."

"Then he's stolen my ideas, and is making a craft like
this!" exclaimed Tom, as he sank upon a bench, and gazed
from the balloonist to the Humming-Bird, and hack to Mr.
Sharp again. "Andy Foger is trying to beat me with my own

Chapter Seven

Seeking a Clue

John Sharp was more than surprised at the effect his piece
of information had on Tom Swift. Though the young inventor
had all along suspected Andy of having the missing plans,
yet there had been no positive evidence on this point. That,
coupled with the fact that the red-haired bully had not been
seen in the vicinity of Shopton lately, had, in a measure,
lulled Tom's suspicions to rest, but now his hope had been
rudely shattered.

"Do you really think that's his game?" asked Mr. Sharp.

"I'm sure of it," replied the youth. "Though where he is
building his aeroplane I can't imagine, for I haven't seen
him in town. He's away."

"Are you sure of that?"

"Well, not absolutely sure," replied Tom. "It's the
general rumor that he's out of town."

"Well, old General Rumor is sometimes a person not to be
relied upon," remarked the balloonist grimly. "Now this is
the way I size it up: Of course, all I know officially is
that Andy Foger has sent in an entry for the big race for
the ten-thousand-dollar prize which is offered by the Eagle
Park Aviation Association. I'm a member of the arrangements
committee, and so I know. I also know that you and several
others are going to try for the prize. That's all I am
absolutely sure of.

"Now, when you tell me about the missing plans, and you
conclude that Andy is doing some underhanded work, I agree
with you. But I go a step farther. I don't believe he's out
of town at all."

"Why not?" exclaimed Tom.

"Because when he has an airship shed right in his own
backyard, where, you tell me, he once made a craft in which
he tried to beat you out in the trip to Alaska, when you
think of that, doesn't it seem reasonable that he'd use that
same building in which to make his new craft?"

"Yes, it does," admitted Tom slowly, "but then everybody
says he's out of town."

"Well, what everybody says is generally not So. I think
you'll find that Andy is keeping himself in seclusion, and
that he's working secretly in his ship, building a machine
with which to beat you."

"Do you, really?"

"I certainly do. Have you been around his place lately?"

"No. I've been too busy; and then I never have much to do
with him."

"Then take my advice, and see if you can't get a look
inside that shop. You may see something that will surprise
you. If you find that Andy is infringing on your patented
ideas, you can stop him by an injunction. You've got this
model patented, I take it?"

"Oh, yes. I didn't have at the time the plans were stolen,
but I've patented it since. I could get at him that way."

"Then take my advice, and do it. Get a look inside that
shed, and you'll find Andy working secretly there, no matter
if his cronies do think he's out of town."

"I believe I will," agreed Tom, and somehow he felt better
now that he had decided on a plan of action. He and the
balloonist talked over at some length just the best way to
go about it, for the young inventor recalled the time when
he and Ned Newton had endeavored to look into Andy's shed,
with somewhat disastrous results to themselves; but Tom knew
that the matter at stake justified a risk, and he was
willing to take it.

"Well, now that's settled," said Mr. Sharp, "tell me more
about yourself and your aeroplane. My! To think that the Red
Cloud was destroyed! That was a fine craft."

"Indeed she was," agreed Tom. "I'm going to make another
on similar lines, some day, but now all my time is occupied
with the Humming Bird."

"She is a hummer, too," complimented Mr. Sharp. "But I
almost forgot the real object of my trip here. There is no
doubt about you going in the race, is there?"

"I fully expect to," replied Tom. "The only thing that
will prevent me will be--"

"Don't say you're worried on account of what Andy Foger
may do," interrupted Mr. Sharp.

"I'm not. I'll attend to Andy, all right. I was going to
say that my father's illness might interfere. He's not well
at all. I'm quite worried about him."

"Oh, I sincerely hope he'll be all right," remarked the
balloonist. "We want you in this race. In fact, we're going
to feature you, as they say about the actors and story-
writers. The committee is planning to do considerable
advertising on the strength of Tom Swift, the well-known
young inventor, being a contestant for the ten-thousand-
dollar prize."

"That's very nice, I'm sure," replied Tom, "and I'm going
to do my best. Perhaps dad will take a turn for the better.
He wants me to win as much as I want to myself. Well, we'll
not worry about it, anyhow, until the time comes. I want to
show you some new features of my. latest aeroplane."

"And I want to see them, Tom. Don't you think you're
making a mistake, though, in equipping it with a wireless

"Why so?"

"Well, because it will add to the weight, and you want
such a small machine to be as light as possible."

"Yes, but you see I have a very light engine. That part my
father helped me with. In fact, it is the lightest air-
cooled motor made, for the amount of horsepower it develops,
so I can afford to put on the extra weight of the wireless
outfit. I may need to signal when I am flying along at a
hundred miles an hour."

"That's so. Well, show me some of the other good points.
You've certainly got a wonderful craft here."

Tom and Mr. Sharp spent some time going over the Humming-
Bird and in talking over old times. The balloonist paid
another visit to Mr. Swift, who was feeling pretty good, and
who expressed his pleasure in seeing his old friend again.

"Can't you stay for a few days?" asked Tom, when Mr. Sharp
was about to leave. "If you wait long enough you may be able
to help me work up the clues against Andy Foger, and also
witness a trial flight of the Humming-Bird."

"I'd like to stay, but I can't," was the answer. "The
committee will be anxious for me to get back with my report.
Good luck to you. I'll see you at the time of the race, if
not before."

Tom resolved to get right to work seeking clues against
his old enemy, Andy, but the next day Mr. Swift was not so
well, and Tom had to remain in the house. Then followed
several days, during which time it was necessary to do some
important work on his craft, and so a week passed without
any information having been obtained.

In the meanwhile Tom had made some cautious inquiries, but
had learned nothing about Andy. He had no chance to
interview Pete or Sam, the two cronies, and he did not think
it wise to make a bald request for information at the Foger

Ned Newton could not be of any aid to his friend, as he
was kept busy in the bank night and day, working over a new
set of books.

"I wonder how I can find out what I want to know?" mused
Tom one afternoon, when he had done considerable work on the
Humming-Bird. "I certainly ought to do it soon, so as to be
able to stop Andy if he's infringing on my patents. Yet, I
don't see how--"

His thoughts were interrupted by hearing a voice outside
the shop, exclaiming:

"Bless my toothpick! I know the way, Eradicate, my good
fellow. It isn't necessary for you to come. As long as Tom
Swift is out there, I'll find him. Bless my horizontal
rudder! I'm anxious to see what progress he's made. I'll
find him, if he's about!"

"Yes, sah, he's right in dere," spoke the colored man.
"He's workin' on dat Dragon Fly of his." Eradicate did not
always get his names right.

"Mr. Damon!" exclaimed Tom in delight, at the sound of his
friend's voice. "I believe he can help me get evidence
against Andy Foger. I wonder I didn't think of it before!
The very thing! I'll do it!"

Chapter Eight

The Empty Shed

"Bless my dark-lantern! Where are you, Tom?" called Mr.
Damon as he entered the dim shed where the somewhat frail-
appearing aeroplane loomed up in the semi-darkness, for it
was afternoon, and rather cloudy. "Where are you?"

"Here!" called the young inventor. "I'm glad to see you!
Come in!"

"Ah! there it is, eh?" exclaimed the odd man, as he looked
at the aeroplane, for there had been much work done on it
since he had last seen it. "Bless my parachute, Tom! But it
looks as though you could blow it over."

"It's stronger than it seems," replied the lad. "But, Mr.
Damon, I've got something very important to talk to you

Thereupon Tom told all about Mr. Sharp's visit, of Andy's
entry in the big race, and of the suspicions of himself and
the balloonist.

"And what is it you wish me to do?" asked Mr. Damon.

"Work up some clues against Andy Foger."

"Good! I'll do it! I'd like to get ahead of that bully and
his father, who once tried to wreck the bank I'm interested
in. I'll help you, Tom! I'll play detective! Let me see--
what disguise shall I assume? I think I'll take the part of
a tramp. Bless my ham sandwich! That will be the very thing.
I'll get some ragged clothes, let my beard grow again--you
see I shaved it off since my last visit--and I'll go around
to the Foger place and ask for work. Then I can get inside
the shed and look around. How's that for a plan?"

"It might be all right," agreed Tom, "only I don't believe
you're cut out for the part of a tramp, Mr. Damon."

"Bless my fingernails! Why not?"

"Oh, well, it isn't very pleasant to go around in ragged

"Don't mind about me. I'll do it." And the odd gentleman
seemed quite delighted at the idea. He and Tom talked it
over at some length, and then adjourned to the house, where
Mr. Swift, who had seemed to improve in the last few days,
was told of the plan.

"Couldn't you go around after evidence just as you are?"
asked the aged inventor. "I don't much care for this
disguising business."

"Oh, it's very necessary," insisted Mr. Damon earnestly.
"Bless my gizzard! but it's very necessary. Why, if I went
around the Foger place as I am now, they'd know me in a
minute, and I couldn't find out what I want to know."

"Well, if you keep on blessing yourself," said Tom, with a
laugh, "they'll know you, no matter what disguise you put
on, Mr. Damon."

"That's so," admitted the eccentric gentleman. "I must
break myself of that habit. I will. Bless my topknot! I'll
never do it any more. Bless my trousers buttons!"

"I'm afraid you'll never do it!" exclaimed Tom.

"It is rather hard," said Mr. Damon ruefully, as he
realized what he had said. "But I'll do it. Bless--"

He paused a moment, looked at Tom and his father, and then
burst into a laugh. The habit was more firmly fastened on
him than he was aware.

For several hours Tom, his father and Mr. Damon discussed
various methods of proceeding, and it was finally agreed
that Mr. Damon should first try to learn what Andy was
doing, if anything, without resorting to a disguise.

"Then, if that doesn't work, I'll become a tramp," was the
decision of the odd character. "I'll wear the raggedest
clothes I can find Bless--" But he stopped in time.

Mr. Damon took up his residence in the Swift household, as
he had often done before, and for the next week he went and
came as he pleased, sometimes being away all night.

"It's no use, though," declared Mr. Damon at the end of
the week. "I can't get anywhere near that shed, nor even get
a glimpse inside of it. I haven't been able to learn

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