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Tom Swift And His Sky Racer by Victor Appleton

Part 3 out of 3

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"You mean Herr Hendrix?" asked Dr. Kurtz.

"Yes, Dr. Edward Hendrix, of Kirkville. If he can be
induced to come I think there is a chance of saving Mr.
Swift's life. I'll speak to Tom about it."

The two physicians, who had been consulting together,
summoned the youth from another room, where, with Mrs.
Baggert and Mr. Jackson he had been anxiously awaiting the

"What is it?" the young inventor asked Dr. Gladby.

The medical man told him to what conclusion he and his
colleague had arrived, adding:

"We advise that Dr. Hendrix be sent for at once. But I
need hardly tell you, Tom, that he is a noted specialist,
and his services are in great demand. He is hard to get."

"I'll pay him any sum he asks!" burst out the youth. "I'll
spend all my fortune--and I have made considerable money of
late--I'll spend every cent to get my father well! Money
need not stand in the way, Dr. Gladby."

"I knew that, Tom. Still Dr. Hendrix is a
very busy man, and it is hard to induce him to
come a long distance. It is over a hundred miles
to Kirkville, and it is an out-of-the-way place.
I never could understand why Dr. Hendrix
settled there. But there he is, and if we want him
he will have to come from there. The worst of
it is that there are few trains, and only a single
railroad line from there to Shopton."

"Then I'll telegraph," decided Tom. "I'll offer him his
own price, and ask him to rush here as soon as he can."

"You had better let Dr. Kurtz and me attend to that part
of it," suggested the physician. "Dr. Hendrix would hardly
come on the request of some one whom he did not know. I'll
prepare a telegram, briefly explaining the case. It is the
sort of an operation Dr. Hendrix is much interested in, and
I think he will come on that account, if for no other
reason. I'll write out the message, and you can have
Eradicate take it to the telegraph office."

"I'll take it myself!" exclaimed Tom, as he got ready to
go out into the night with the urgent request. "Is there any
immediate danger for my father?" he asked.

"No; not any immediate danger," replied Dr. Gladby. "But
the operation is imperative if he is to live. It is his one
and only chance."

Tom thought only of his father as he hurried on through
the night. Even the prospect of the great race, so soon to
take place, had no part in his mind.

"I'll not race until I'm sure dad is going to get better,"
he decided. With the message to the noted specialist Tom
also sent one to Mr. Damon, telling him the news, and asking
him to come to Shopton. Tom felt that the presence of the
odd gentleman would help him, and Mr. Damon, who first
intended to stay on at the Swift home until he and Tom
departed for Eagle Park, had gone back to his own residence
to attend to some business Tom knew he would come in the
morning, and Mr. Damon did arrive on the first train.

"Bless my soul!" he exclaimed with ready sympathy, as he
extended his hand to Tom. "What's all this?" The young
inventor told him, beginning with the fire that had been the
cause of the excitement which produced the change in Mr.

"But I have great hopes that the specialist will be able
to cure him," said Tom, for, with the coming of daylight,
his courage had returned to him. "Dr. Gladby and Dr. Kurtz
depend a great deal on Dr. Hendrix," he said.

"Yes, he certainly is a wonderful man. I have heard a
great deal about him. I have no doubt but what he will cure
your father. But about the fire? How did it start?"

"I don't know, but now that I have a few hours to spare
before the doctor can get here, I'm going to make an

"Bless my penwiper, but I'll help you."

Tom went into the house, to inquire of Mrs. Baggert, for
probably the tenth time that morning, how his father was
doing. Mr. Swift was still in a semi-conscious condition,
but he recognized Tom, when the youth stood at his bedside.

"Don't worry about me, son," said the brave old inventor,
as he took Tom's hand. "I'll be all right. Go ahead and get
ready for the race. I want you to win!"

Tears came into Tom's eyes. Would his father be well
enough to allow him to take part in the big event? He feared

By daylight it was seen that quite a hole had been burned
in the aeroplane shed. Tom and Mr. Damon, accompanied by Mr.
Jackson, walked through the place.

"And you say the fire broke out right after you had seen
the mysterious airship hovering over the house?" asked the
eccentric man.

"Well, not exactly after," answered Tom, "but within an
hour or so. Why do you ask?"

But Mr. Damon did not answer. Something on the floor of the shed,
amid a pile of blackened and charred pieces of wood,
attracted his attention. He stooped over and picked it up.

"Is this yours?" he asked Tom.

"No. What is it?"

The object looked like a small iron ball, with a tube
about half an inch in diameter projecting slightly from it.
Tom took it'.

"Why, it looks like an infernal machine or a dynamite
bomb," he said. "I wonder where it came from? Guess I'd
better drop it in a pail of water. Maybe Eradicate found it
and brought it here. I never saw it before. Mr. Jackson,
please hand me that pail of water. We'll soak this bomb."

"There is no need," said Mr. Damon, quietly. "It is
harmless now. It has done its work. It was that which set
fire to your shed, and which caused the stifling fumes."

"That?" cried Tom.

"Yes. This ball is hollow, and was filled with a chemical.
It was dropped on the roof, and, after a certain time, the
plug in the tube was eaten through, the chemicals ran out,
set the roof ablaze, and, dripping down inside spread the
choking odors that nearly prevented you from getting out
your aeroplane."

"Are you sure of this?" asked the young inventor.

"Positive. I read about these bombs recently. A German
invented them to be used in attacking a besieged city in
case of war."

"But how did this one get on my shed roof?" asked Tom.

"It was dropped there by the mysterious airship!"
exclaimed the odd man. "That was why the aeroplane moved
about over your place. Those in it hoped that the fire would
not break out until you were all asleep, and that the shed
and the Humming-Bird would be destroyed before you came to
the rescue. Some of your enemies are still after you, Tom."

"And it was Andy Foger, I'll wager!" he cried. "He was in
that aircraft! Oh, I'll have a long score to settle with him!"

"Of course you can't be sure it was he," said Mr. Damon,
"but I wouldn't be a bit surprised but what it was. Andy is
capable of such a thing. He wanted to prevent you from
taking part in the race."

"Well, he sha'n't!" cried Tom, and then he thought of his
invalid father. They made a further examination of the shed,
and discovered another empty bomb. Then Tom recalled having
seen something drop from the mysterious aeroplane as it
passed over the shed.

"It was these bombs," he said. "We certainly had a narrow
escape! Oh, wait until I settle my score with Andy Foger!"

As there would be but little use for the aeroplane shed
now, if Tom sent his craft off to the meet, it was decided
to repair it temporarily only, until he returned.

Accordingly, a big tarpaulin was fastened over the hole in
the roof. Then Tom put a new wing tip on in place of the one
that had been scorched. He looked all over his sky racer,
and decided that it was in fit condition for the coming

"I'll begin to take it apart for shipment, as soon as I
hear from the specialist that dad is well enough for me to
go," he said.

It was a few hours after the discovery of the empty bomb
that Tom saw Dr. Gladby coming along. The physician was
urging his horse to top speed. Tom felt a vague fear in his

"I've got a message from Dr. Hendrix, Tom," he said, as he
stopped his carriage, and approached the lad.

"When can he come?" asked the young inventor, eagerly.

"He can't get here, Tom."

"Can't get here! Why not?"

"Because the railroad bridge has collapsed, and there is
no way to come. He can't make any other connections to get
here in time--in time to do your father any good, Tom. He
has just sent me a telegram to that effect. Dr. Hendrix
can't get here, and..." Dr. Gladby paused.

"Do you mean that my father may die if the operation is
not performed?" asked Tom, in a low voice.

"Yes," was the answer.

"But can't Dr. Hendrix drive here in an auto?" asked the
lad. "Surely there must be some way of getting over the
river, even if the railroad bridge is down. Can't he cross
in a boat and drive here?"

"He wouldn't be in time, Tom. Don't you understand, Dr.
Hendrix must be here within four hours, if he is to save
your father's life. He never could do it by driving or by
coming on some other road, or in an auto. He can't make the
proper connections. There is no way."

"Yes, there is!" cried Tom, suddenly. "I know a way!"

"How?" asked Dr. Gladby, thrilled by Tom's ringing tones.
"How can you do it, Tom?"

"I'll go for Dr. Hendrix in my Humming-Bird."

"Going for him would do no good. He must be brought here."

"And so he shall be!" cried Tom. "I'll bring him here in
my sky racer--if he has the nerve to stand the journey, and
I think he has! I'll bring Dr. Hendrix here!" and Tom
hurried away to prepare for the thrilling trip.

Chapter Nineteen

A Nervy Specialist

There was little time to lose. Every moment of delay meant
so much less chance for the recovery of Mr. Swift. Even now
the periods of consciousness were becoming shorter and
farther apart. He seemed to be sinking.

Tom resolutely refused to think of the possibility of
death, as he went in to bid his parent good-by before
starting off on his trip through the air. Mr. Swift barely
knew his son, and, with tears in his eyes, though he bravely
tried to keep them back, the young inventor went out into
the yard.

There stood the Humming-Bird, with Mr. Jackson, Mr. Damon
and Eradicate working over her, to get her in perfect trim
for the race before her--a race with death.

Fortunately there was little to be done to get the speedy
craft ready. Tom had accomplished most of what was
necessary, while waiting for word from Dr. Hendrix. Now
about all that needed to be done was to see that there was
plenty of gasoline and oil in the reservoirs.

"I'll give you a note to Dr. Hendrix," said Mr. Gladby, as
Tom was fastening on his faceguard. "I--I trust you won't be
disappointed, Tom. I hope he will consent to return with

"He's got to come," said the young inventor, simply, as if
that was all there was to it.

"Do you think you can make the trip in time?" asked Mr.
Damon. "It is a little less than a hundred miles in an
airline, but you have to go and go back. Can the aeroplane
do it?"

"I'd be ashamed of her if she couldn't," said Tom, with a
grim tightening of his lips. "She's just got to do it;
that's all! But I know she will," and he patted the big
propeller and the motor's shining cylinders as though the
machine was a thing alive, like a horse or a dog, who could
understand him.

He climbed to his seat, the other one holding a bag of
sand to maintain a good balance.

"Start her," ordered Tom, and Mr. Jackson twisted the
propeller. The motor caught at once, and the air throbbed
with the noise of the explosions. Tom listened to the tune
of the machinery. It sang true.

"Two thousand pounds thrust!" called the engineer, as he
looked at the scale.

"Let her go!" cried Tom, whose voice was hardly heard
above the roar. The trim little aeroplane scudded over the
ground, gathering speed at every revolution of the wheels.
Then with a spring like that of some great bird launching
itself in flight, she left the earth, and took to the air.
Tom was off on his trip.

Those left behind sent up a cautious cheer, for they did
not want to disturb Mr. Swift. They waved their hands to the
young inventor, and he waved his in reply. Then he settled
down for one of the swiftest flights he had ever undertaken.

Tom ascended until he struck a favorable current of air.
There was a little wind blowing in the direction he wished
to take, and that aided him. But even against a powerful
head-wind the Humming-Bird could make progress.

The young inventor saw the ground slipping backward
beneath him. Carefully he watched the various indicators,
and listened intently to the sound of the cylinders'
explosions. They came rapidly and regularly. The motor was
working well.

Tom glanced at the barograph. It registered two thousand
feet, and he decided to keep at about that height, as it
gave him a good view, and he could see to steer, for a route
had been hastily mapped out for him by his friends.

Over cities, towns, villages, scattered farmhouses; across
stretches of forest; over rivers, above big stretches of
open country he flew. Often he could see eager crowds below,
gazing up at him. But he paid no heed. He was looking for a
sight of a certain broad river, which was near Kirkville.
Then he knew he would be close to his goal.

He had speeded up the motor to the limit, and there was
nothing to do now, save to manage the planes, wing tips and
rudders, and to see that the gasoline and oil were properly
fed to the machine.

Faster and faster went the Humming-Bird, but Tom's
thoughts were even faster. He was thinking of many things--
of his father--of what he would do if Mr. Swift died--of the
mysterious airship--of the stolen plans--of the fire in the
shed--of the great race--and of Andy Foger.

He took little note of time, and when, in less than an
hour he sighted the river that told him he was near to
Kirkville, he was rather startled.

"You certainly did come right along, Humming-Bird!" he
murmured proudly.

He descended several hundred feet, and, as he passed over
the town, the people of which grew wildly excited, he looked
about for the house of the noted specialist. He knew how to
pick it out, for Dr. Gladby had described it to him, and Tom
was glad to see, as he came within view of the residence,
that it was surrounded by a large yard.

"I can land almost at his door," he said, and he did,
volplaning to earth with an ease born of long practice.

To say that Dr. Hendrix was astonished when Tom dropped in
on him in this manner, would not be exactly true. The
specialist was not in the habit of receiving calls from
youths in aeroplanes, but the fact was, that Dr. Hendrix was
so absorbed in his work, and thought so constantly about it,
that it took a great deal to startle him out of his usual

"And so you came for me in your aeroplane?" he asked of
Tom, as he gazed at the trim little craft. It is doubtful if
he really saw it, however, as Dr. Hendrix was just then
thinking of an operation he had performed a few hours
before. "I'm sorry you had your trip for nothing," he went
on. "I'd like very much to come to your father, but didn't
you get my telegram, telling about the broken bridge? There
is no way for me to get to Shopton in time."

"Yes, there is!" cried Tom, eagerly.


"The same way I came--in the aeroplane! Dr. Hendrix you
must go back with me! It's the only way to save my father's
life. Come with me in the Humming-Bird. It's perfectly safe.
I can make the trip in less than an hour. I can carry you
and your instruments. Will you come? Won't you come to save
my father's life?" Tom was fairly pleading now.

"A trip in an aeroplane," mused Dr. Hendrix "I've never
taken such a thing. I--"

"Don't be afraid, there's really no danger," said Tom.

The physician seemed to reach a sudden conclusion. His
eyes brightened. He walked over and looked at the little
Humming-Bird. For the time being he forgot about his

"I'll go with you!" he suddenly cried. "I'll go with you,
Tom Swift! If you've got the nerve, so have I! and if my
science and skill can save your father's life, he'll live to
be an old man! Wait until I get my bag and I'll be with

Tom's heart gave a bound of hope.

Chapter Twenty

Just in Time

While Dr. Hendrix was in his office, getting ready to make
the thrilling trip through the air with Tom, the young
inventor spent a few minutes going over his monoplane. The
wonderful little craft had made her first big flight in
excellent time, though Tom knew she could do better the
farther she was flown. Not a stay had started, not a guy
wire was loose. The motor had not overheated, and every
bearing was as cool as though it had not taken part in
thousands of revolutions.

"Oh, I can depend on you!" murmured Tom, as he looked to
see that the propeller was tight on the shaft. He gave the
bearing a slight adjustment to make sure of it.

He was at this when the specialist reappeared. Dr.
Hendrix, after his first show of excitement, when he had
made his decision to accompany Tom, had resumed his usual
calm demeanor. Once again he was the grave surgeon, with his
mind on the case before him.

"Well, is my auto ready?" he asked absentmindedly. Then,
as he saw the little aeroplane, and Tom standing waiting
beside it, he added: "Oh, I forgot for the moment that I was
to make a trip through the air, instead of in my car. Well,
Mr. Swift, are we all ready?"

"All ready," replied the young inventor. "We're going to
make fast time, Dr. Hendrix. You'd better put this on," and
Tom extended a face protector.

"What's it for?" The physician looked curiously at it.

"To keep the air from cutting your cheeks and lips. We are
going to travel a hundred miles an hour this trip."

"A hundred miles an hour!" Dr. Hendrix spoke as though he
would like to back out.

"Maybe more, if I can manage it," went on Tom, calmly, as
he proceeded to remove the bag of sand from the place where
the surgeon was to sit. Then he looked to the various
equilibrium arrangements and the control levers. He was so
cool about it, taking it all for granted, as if rising and
flying through the air at a speed rivaling that of the
fastest birds, was a matter of no moment, that Dr. Hendrix
was impressed by the calm demeanor of the young inventor.

"Very well," said the surgeon with a shrug of his
shoulders, "I guess I'm game, Tom Swift."

The doctor took the seat Tom pointed out to him, with his
bag of instruments on his knees. He put on the face
protector, and had, at the suggestion of our hero, donned a
heavy coat.

"For it's cold in the upper regions," said Tom.

Several servants in the physician's household had gathered
to see him depart in this novel fashion, and the chauffeur
of the auto, in which the specialist usually made his calls,
was also there.

"I'll give you a hand," said the chauffeur to the young
inventor. "I was at an aviation meet once, and I know how
it's done."

"Good," exclaimed Tom. "Then you can hold the machine, and
shove when I give the word."

Tom started the propeller himself, and quickly jumped into
his seat. The chauffeur held back the Humming-Bird until the
young aviator had speeded up the motor.

"Let go!" cried the youthful inventor, and the man gave
the little craft a shove. Across the rather uneven ground of
the doctor's yard it ran, straight for a big iron barrier.

"Look out! We'll be into the fence!" shouted the surgeon.
"We'll be killed!" He seemed about to leap off.

"Sit still!" cried Tom, and at that instant he tilted the
elevation planes, and the craft shot upward, going over the
fence like a circus horse taking a seven-barred gate.

"Oh!" exclaimed the physician in a curious voice. They
were off on their trip to save the life of Mr. Swift.

What the sensations of the celebrated specialist were, Tom
never learned. If he was afraid, his fright quickly gave
place to wonder, and the wonder soon changed to delight as
the machine rose higher and higher, acquired more speed, and
soared in the air over the country that spread out in all
directions from Kirkville.

"Magnificent! Magnificent!" murmured the doctor, and then
Tom knew that the surgeon was in the grip of the air, and
was one of the "bird-men."

Every moment the Humming-Bird increased her speed. They
passed over the river near where men were working on the
broken bridge. It was now no barrier to them. Tom, noting
the barograph, and seeing that they were twenty-two hundred
feet high, decided to keep at about that distance from the

"How fast are we going?" cried Dr. Hendrix, into the ear
of the young inventor.

"Just a little short of a hundred an hour!" Tom shouted
back. "We'll hit a hundred and five before long."

His prediction proved true, and when about forty miles
from Shopton that terrific speed had been attained. It
seemed as if they were going to have a trip devoid of
incident, and Tom was congratulating himself on the quick
time made, when he ran into a contrary strata of air. Almost
before he knew it the Humming-Bird gave a dangerous and
sickening dive, and tilted at a terrifying angle.

"Are we going to turn turtle?" cried the doctor.

"I--I hope not!" gasped Tom. He could not understand why
the equilibrium weights did not work, but he had no time
then to investigate. Quickly he warped the wing tips and
brought the craft up on an even keel.

He gave a sigh of relief as the aeroplane was once more
shooting forward, and he was not mistaken when he thought he
heard Dr. Hendrix murmur a prayer of thankfulness. Their
escape had been a narrow one. Tom's nerve, and the coolness
of the physician, had alone saved them from a fall to death.

But now, as if ashamed of her prank, the Humming-Bird went
along even better than before. Tom was peering through the
slight haze that hung over the earth, for a sight of
Shopton. At length the spires of the churches came into

"There it is," he called, pointing downward. "We'll land
in two minutes more."

"No time to spare," murmured the doctor, who knew the
serious nature of the aged inventor's illness. "How long did
it take us?"

"Fifty-one minutes," replied Tom, glancing at a small
clock in front of him. Then he shut off the motor and
volplaned to earth, to the no small astonishment of the
surgeon. He made a perfect landing in the yard before the
shed, leaped from his seat, and called:

"Come, Dr. Hendrix!"

The surgeon followed him. Dr. Gladby and Dr. Kurtz came to
the door of the house. On their faces were grave looks. They
greeted the celebrated surgeon eagerly.

"Well?" he asked quickly, and they knew what he meant.

"You are only just in time," said Dr. Gladby, softly, and
Tom, following the doctors into the house, wondered if his
trip with the specialist had been in vain.

Chapter Twenty-One

"Will He Live?"

Soon there were busy scenes in the Swift home, as
preparations were made for a serious operation on the aged
inventor. Tom's father had sunk into deep unconsciousness,
and was stretched out on the bed as though there was no more
life in him. In fact, Tom, for the moment, feared that it
was all over. But good old Dr. Kurtz, noting the look on the
lad's face, said:

"Ach, Dom, doan't vorry! Maybe it vill yet all be vell,
und der vater vill hear of der great race. Bluck up your
courage, und doan't gif up. Der greatest surgeon in der
vorld is here now, und if anybody gan safe your vater, Herr
Hendriz gan. Dot vos a great drip you made--a great drip!"

Tom felt a little comforted and, after a sight of his
father, and a silent prayer that God would spare his life
for years to come, the young inventor went out in the yard.
He wanted to be busy about something, for he knew, with the
doctors, and a trained nurse who had been hastily summoned,
there was no immediate need for him. He wanted to get his
mind off the operation that would soon take place, and so he
decided to look over his aeroplane.

Mr. Damon came out when Tom was going over the guy wires
and braces, to see how they had stood the strain.

"Well, Tom, my lad," said the eccentric man, sadly, as he
grasped our hero's hand, "it's too bad. But hope for the
best. I'm sure your father will pull through. We will have
to begin taking the Humming-Bird apart soon; won't we, if
we're going to ship it to Eagle Park?" He wanted to take
Tom's mind off his troubles.

"I don't know whether we will or not," was the answer, and
Tom tried to speak unbrokenly, but there was a troublesome
lump in his throat, and a mist of tears in his eyes that
prevented him from seeing well. The Hamming-Bird, to him,
looked as if she was in a fog.

"Nonsense! Of course we will!" cried Mr. Damon. "Why,
bless my wishbone! Tom, you don't mean to say you're going
to let that little shrimp Andy Foger walk away with that
ten-thousand-dollar prize without giving him a fight for it;
are you?"

This was just what Tom needed, and it seemed good to have
Mr. Damon bless something again, even if it was only a

"No!" exclaimed Tom, in ringing tones. "Andy Foger isn't
going to beat me, and if I find out he is going to race with
a machine made after my stolen plans, I'll make him wish
he'd never taken them."

"But if the machine he had flying over here when he
dropped that bomb on the shed roof, and set fire to it, is
the one he's going to race with, it isn't like yours,"
suggested Mr. Damon, who was glad he had turned the
conversation into a more cheerful channel.

"That's so," agreed the young inventor. "We'll, we'll have
to wait and see." He was busy now, going over every detail
of the Humming-Bird. Mr. Damon helped him, and they
discovered the defect in the equilibrium weights, and
remedied it.

"We can't afford to have an accident in the race," said
Tom. He glanced toward the house, and wondered if the
operation had begun yet. He could see the trained nurse
hurrying here and there, Mrs. Baggert helping her.

Eradicate Sampson shuffled out from the stable where he
kept his mule Boomerang. On the face of the honest colored
man there was a dejected look.

"Am Massa Swift any better, Massa Tom?" he asked.

"We can't tell yet," was the answer.

"Well, if he doan't git well, den I'm goin' t' sell mah
mule," went on the dirt-chaser, from which line of activity
Eradicate had derived his name.

"Sell Boomerang! Bless my curry comb! what for?" asked Mr.

"'Case as how he wouldn't neber be any good fo' wuk any
mo'," explained Eradicate. "He's got so attached t' dis
place, an' all de folkes on it, dat he'd feel so sorry ef--
ef--well, ef any ob 'em went away, dat I couldn't git no mo'
wuk out ob him, no how. So ef Massa Swift doan't git well,
den I an' Boomerang parts!"

"Well, we hope it won't happen," said Tom, greatly touched
by the simple grief of Eradicate. The young inventor was
silent a moment, and then he softly added: "I--I wonder
when--when we'll know?"

"Soon now, I think," answered Mr. Damon, in a low voice.

Silently they waited about the aeroplane. Tom tried to
busy himself, but he could not. He kept his eyes fastened on
the house.

It seemed like several hours, but it was not more than
one, ere the white-capped nurse came to the door and waved
her hand to Tom. He sprang to his feet and rushed forward.
What would be the message he was to receive?

He stood before the nurse, his heart madly beating. She
looked gently at him.

"Will he--will he live?" Tom asked, pantingly.

"I think so," she answered gently. "The operation is over.
It was a success, so far. Time alone will tell, now. Dr.
Hendrix says you can see your father for lust a moment."

Chapter Twenty-Two

Off to the Meet

Softly Tom tiptoed into the room where his father lay. At
the bedside were the three doctors, and the nurse followed
the young inventor in. Mrs. Baggert stood in the hall, and
near her was Garret Jackson. The aged housekeeper had been
weeping, but she smiled at Tom through her tears.

"I think he's going to get well," she whispered. She
always looked on the bright side of things. Tom's heart felt

"You must only speak a few words to him," cautioned the
specialist, who had performed such a rare and delicate
operation, near the heart of the invalid. "He is very weak,

Mr. Swift opened his eyes as his son approached. He looked
around feebly.

"Tom--are you there?" he asked in a whisper.

"Yes, dad," was the eager answer

"They tell me you--you made a great trip to get Dr.
Hendrix--broken bridge--came through the air with him. Is
that right?"

"Yes, dad. But don't tire yourself. You must get well and

"I will, Tom. But tell me; did you go in--in
the Humming-Bird?"

"Yes, dad."

"How did she work?"

"Fine. Over a hundred, and the motor wasn't at its best."

"That's good. Then you can go in the big race, and win."

"No, I don't believe I'll go, dad."

"Why not?" Mr. Swift spoke mort strongly

"I--because--well, I don't want to."

"Nonsense, Tom! I know; it's on my account. I know it is.
But listen to me. I want you to go in! I want you to win
that race! Never mind about me. I'm going to get well, and
I'll recover all the more quickly if you win that race. Now
promise me you'll go in it and--and--win!"

The invalid's strength was fast leaving him.

"I--I---," began Tom.

"Promise!" insisted the aged inventor, trying to rise. Dr.
Hendrix made a hasty move toward the bed.

"Promise!" whispered the surgeon to Tom.

"I--I promise!" exclaimed Tom, and the aged inventor sank
back with a smile of satisfaction on his pale face.

"Now you must go," said Dr. Gladby to Tom. "He has talked
long enough. He must sleep now, and get up his strength."

"Will he get better?" asked Tom, anxiously.

"We can't say for sure," was the answer. "We have great

"I don't want to enter the race unless I know he is going
to live," went on Tom, as Dr. Gladby followed him out of the

"No one can say for a certainty that he will recover,"
spoke the physician. "You will have to hope for the best,
that is all, Tom. If I were you I'd go in the race. It will
occupy your mind, and if you could send good news to your
father it might help him in the fight for life he is

"But suppose--suppose something happens while I am away?"
suggested the young inventor.

The doctor thought for a moment. Then he exclaimed:

"You have a wireless outfit on your craft; haven't you?"


"Then you can receive messages from here every hour if you
wish. Garret Jackson, your engineer, can send them, and you
can pick them up in mid-air if need be."

"So I can!" cried Tom. "I will go to the meet. I'll take
the Humming-Bird apart at once, and ship it to Eagle Park.
Unless Dr. Hendrix wants to go back in it," he added as an
after thought.

"No," spoke Dr. Gladby, "Dr. Hendrix is going to remain
here for a few days, in case of an emergency. By that time
the bridge will have been repaired, and he can go back by
train. I gather, from what he said, that though he liked
the air trip, he will not care for another one."

"Very well," assented Tom, and Mr. Damon and he were kept
busy, packing the Humming-Bird for shipment. Mr. Jackson
helped them, and Eradicate and his mule Boomerang were
called on occasionally when boxes or crates were to be taken
to the railroad station.

In the meanwhile, Mr. Swift, if he did not improve any, at
least held his own. This the doctors said was a sign of
hope, and, though Tom was filled with anxiety, he tried to
think that fate would be kind to him, and that his father
would recover. Dr. Hendrix left, saying there was nothing
more he could do, and that the rest depended on the local
physicians, and on the nurse.

"Und ve vill do our duty!" ponderously exclaimed Dr.
Kurtz. "You go off to dot bird race, Dom, und doan't vorry.
Ve vill send der with-out-vire messages to you venever dere
is anyt'ing to report. Go mit a light heart!"

How Tom wished he could, but it was out of the question.
The last of the parts of the Humming-Bird had been sent
away, and our hero forwarded a telegram to Mr. Sharp, of the
arrangement committee, stating that he and Mr. Damon would
soon follow. Then, having bidden his father a fond farewell,
and after arranging with Mr. Jackson to send frequent
wireless messages, Tom and the eccentric man left for the

There was a wireless station at Eagle Park, and Tom had
planned to receive the messages from home there until he
could set up his own plant. He would have two outfits. One
in the big tent where the Humming-Bird was to be put
together, and another on the machine itself, so that when in
the air, practicing, or even in the great race itself, there
would be no break in the news that was to be flashed through

Tom and Mr. Damon arrived at Eagle Park on time, and Tom's
first inquiry was for a message from home. There was one,
Stating that Mr. Swift was fairly comfortable, and seemed to
be doing well. With happiness in his heart, the young
inventor then set about getting the parts of his craft from
the station to the park, where he and Mr. Damon, with a
trusty machinist whom Mr. Sharp had recommended, would
assemble it. Tom arranged that in his absence the wireless
operator on the grounds would take any message that came for

The Humming-Bird, in the big cases and boxes, had safely
arrived, and these were soon in the tent which had been
assigned to Tom. It was still several days until the opening
of the meet, and the grounds presented a scene of confusion.

Workmen were putting up grand stands, tents and sheds were
being erected, exhibitors were getting their machines in
shape, and excited contestants of many nationalities were
hurrying to and fro, inquiring about parts delayed in
shipment, or worrying lest some of their pet ideas be

Tom and Mr. Damon, with Frank Forker, the young machinist,
were soon busy in their big tent, which was a combined
workshop and living quarters, for Tom had determined to stay
right on the ground until the big race was over.

"I don't see anything of Andy Foger," remarked Mr. Damon,
on the second day of their residence in the park. "There
are lots of new entries arriving, but he doesn't seem to be
on hand."

"There's time enough," replied Tom. "I am afraid he's
hanging back until the last minute, and will spring his
machine so late that I won't have time to lodge a protest.
It would be just like him."

"Well, I'll be on the lookout for him. Have you heard from
home to-day, Tom?"

"No. I'm expecting a message any minute." The young
inventor glanced toward the wireless apparatus which had
been set up in the tent. At that moment there came the
peculiar sound which indicated a message coming through
space, and down the receiving wires. "There's something
now!" exclaimed Tom, as he hurried over and clamped the
telephone receiver to his ear. He listened a moment.

"Good news!" he exclaimed. "Dad sat up a little to-day! I
guess he's going to get well!" and he clicked back
congratulations to his father and the others in Shopton.

Another day saw the Humming-Bird almost in shape again,
and Tom was preparing for a tryout of the engine.

Mr. Damon had gone over to the committee headquarters to
consult with Mr. Sharp about the steps necessary for Tom to
take in case Andy did attempt to enter a craft that
infringed on the ideas of the young inventor, and on his way
back he saw a newly-erected tent. There was a young man
standing in the entrance, at the sight of whom the eccentric
man murmured:

"Bless my skate-strap! His face looks very familiar!"

The youth disappeared inside the tent suddenly, and, as
Mr. Damon came opposite the canvas shelter, he started in

For, on a strip of muslin which was across the tent,
painted in gay colors, were the words:


"Bless my elevation rudder!" cried Mr. Damon. "Andy's here
at last! I must tell Tom!"

Chapter Twenty-Three

The Great Race

"Well," remarked Mr. Sharp, when Tom and Mr. Damon had
called on him, to state that Andy Foger's machine was now on
the grounds, and demanding to be allowed to view it, to see
if it was an infringement on the one entered by the young
inventor, "I'll do the best I can for you. I'll lay the case
before the committee. It will meet at once, and I'll let you
know what they say."

"Understand," said Tom, "I don't want to interfere unless
I am convinced that Andy is trying an underhand trick. My
plans are missing, and I think he took them. If his machine
is made after those plans, it is, obviously, a steal, and I
want him ruled out of the meet."

"And so he shall be!" exclaimed Mr. Sharp. "Get the
evidence against him, and we'll act quickly enough."

The committee met in about an hour, and considered the
case. Meanwhile, Tom and Mr. Damon strolled past the tent
with its flaring sign. There was a man on guard, but Andy
was not in sight.

Then Tom was sent for, and Mr. Sharp told him what
conclusion had been arrived at. It was this:

"Under the rules of the meet," said the balloonist, "we
had to guarantee privacy to all the contestants until such
time as they choose to exhibit their machines. That is, they
need not bring them out until just before the races," he
added. "This is not a handicap affair, and the speediest
machine, or the one that goes to the greatest height,
according to which class it enters, will win. In consequence
we cannot force any contestant to declare what kind of a
machine he will use until he gets ready.

"Some are going to use the familiar type of biplanes and,
as you can see, there is no secret about them. They are
trying them out now." This was so, for several machines of
this type were either in the air, circling about, or were
being run over the ground.

"But others," continued Mr. Sharp, "will not even take the
committee into their confidence until just before the race.
They want to keep their craft a secret. We can't compel them
to do otherwise. I'm sorry, Tom, but the only thing I see
for you to do is to wait until the last minute. Then, if you
find Andy has infringed on your machine, lodge a protest--
that is unless you can get evidence against him before that

Tom well knew the uselessness of the latter plan. He and
Mr. Damon had tried several times to get a glimpse of the
craft Andy had made, but without success. As to the other
alternative--that of waiting until the last moment--Tom
feared that, too, would be futile.

"For," he reasoned, "just before the race there will be a
lot of confusion, officials will be here and there,
scattered over the ground, they will be hard to find, and it
will be almost useless to protest then. Andy will enter the
race, and there is a possibility that he may win. Almost any
one could with a machine like the Humming-Bird. It's the
machine almost as much as the operator, in a case like

"But you can protest after the race," suggested Mr. Damon.

"That would be little good, in case Andy beat me. The
public would say I was a sorehead, and jealous. No, I've
either got to stop Andy before the race, or not at all. I
will try to think of a plan."

Tom did think of several, but abandoned them one after the
other. He tried to get a glimpse inside the tent where the
Foger aeroplane Was housed, but it was too closely guarded.
Andy himself was not much in evidence, and Tom only had
fleeting glimpses of the bully.

Meanwhile he and Mt Damon, together with their machinist,
were kept busy. As Tom's craft was fully protected by
patents now, he had no hesitation in taking it out, and it
was given several severe tests around the aerial course. It
did even better than Tom expected of it, and he had great

Always, though, there were two things that worried him.
One was his father's illness, and the other the uneasiness
he felt as to what Andy Foger might do. As to the former,
the wireless reports indicated that Mr. Swift was doing as
well as could be expected, but his improvement was not
rapid. Regarding the latter worry, Tom saw no way of getting
rid of it.

"I've just got to wait, that's all," he thought.

The day before the opening of the meet, Tom and Mr. Damon
had given the Humming-Bird a grueling tryout. They had taken
her high up--so high that no prying eyes could time them,
and there Tom had opened the motor for all the power in it.
They had flashed through space at the rate of one hundred
and twenty miles an hour.

"If we can only do that in the race, the ten thousand
dollars is mine!" exulted Tom, as he slanted the nose of the
aeroplane toward the earth.

The day of the race dawned clear and beautiful. Tom was up
early, for there remained many little things to do to get
his craft in final trim for the contest. Then, too, he
wanted to be ready to act promptly as soon as Andy's machine
was wheeled out, and he also wanted to get a message from

The wireless arrived soon after breakfast, and did not
contain very cheering news.

"Your father not so well," Mr. Jackson sent. "Poor night,
but doctor thinks day will show improvement. Don't worry."

"Don't worry! I wonder who could help it," mused poor Tom.
"Well, I'll hope for the best," and he wired back to tell
the engineer in Shopton to keep in touch with him, and to
flash the messages to the Humming-Bird in the air, after the
big race started.

"Now I'll go out and see if I can catch a glimpse of what
that sneak Andy has to pit against me," said Tom.

The Foger tent was tightly closed, and Tom turned back to
his own place, having arranged with a messenger to come and
let him know as soon as Andy's craft was wheeled out.

All about was a scene of great activity. The grand stands
were filled, and a big crowd stood about the field anxiously
waiting for the first sight of the "bird-men" in their
wonderful machines. Now and then the band blared out, and
cheers arose as one after another the frail craft were
wheeled to the starting place.

Men in queer leather costumes darted here and there-they
were the aviators who were soon to risk life and limb for
glory and gold. Most of them were nervously smoking
cigarettes. The air was filled with guttural German or nasal
French, while now and then the staccato Russian was heard,
and occasionally the liquid tones of a Japanese. For men of
many nations were competing for the prizes.

The majority of the machines were monoplanes and biplanes
though one triplane was entered, and there were several
"freaks" as the biplane and monoplane men called them--craft
of the helicopter, or the wheel type. There was also one
Witzig Liore Dutilleul biplane, with three planes behind.

Tom was familiar with most of these types, but
occasionally he saw a new one that excited his curiosity.
However, he was more interested in what Andy Foger would
turn out. Andy's machine had not been tried, and Tom
wondered how he dared risk flying in it, without at least a
preliminary tryout. But Andy, and those with him, were
evidently full of confidence.

News of the suspicions of Tom, and what he intended to do
in case these suspicions proved true, had gotten around, and
there was quite a crowd about his own tent, and another
throng around that of Andy.

Tom and Mr. Damon had wheeled the Humming-Bird out of her
canvas "nest.". There was a cheer as the crowd caught sight
of the trim little craft. The young inventor, the eccentric
man, and the machinist were busy going over every part.

Meanwhile the meet had been officially opened, and it was
announced that the preliminary event would be some air
evolutions at no great height, and for no particular prize.
Several biplanes and monoplanes took part in this. It was
very interesting, but the big ten-thousand-dollar race, over
a distance of a hundred miles was the principal feature of
the meet, and all waited anxiously for this.

The opening stunts passed off successfully, save that a
German operator in a Bleriot came to grief, crashing down to
the ground, wrecking his machine, and breaking an arm. But
he only laughed at that, and coolly demanded another
cigarette, as he crawled out of the tangle of wires, planes
and the motor.

After this there was an exhibition flight by a French
aviator in a Curtis biplane, who raced against one in a Baby
Wright. It was a dead heat, according to the judges. Then
came a flight for height; and while no records were broken,
the crowd was well satisfied.

"Get ready for the hundred-mile ten-thousand-dollar-prize
race!" shouted the announcer, through his megaphone.

Tom's heart gave a bound. There were seven entrants in
this contest besides Tom and Andy Foger, and as announced by
the starter they were as follows:

Von Bergen.................Wright Biplane
Alameda..............Antoinette Monoplane
Perique.................Bleriot Monoplane
Loi Tong..........Santos-Dumont Monoplane
Wendell....................Curtis Biplane
De Tromp...................Farman Biplane
Lascalle.............Demoiselle Monoplane
Andy Foger.................--------------
Tom Swift..........Humming-Bird Monoplane

"What is the style of the Foger machine?" yelled some one
in the crowd, as the announcer lowered his megaphone.

"It has not been announced," was the reply. "It will at
once be wheeled out though, in accordance with the
conditions of the race."

There was a craning of necks, and an uneasy movement in
the crowd, for Tom's story was now generally known.

"Get ready to make your protest," advised Mr. Damon to the
young inventor. "I'll stay by the machine here until you
come back. Bless my radiator! I hope you beat him!"

"I will, if it's possible!" murmured Tom, with a grim
tightening of his lips.

There was a movement about Andy's tent, whence, for the
last half hour had come spasmodic noises that indicated the
trying-out of the motor. The flaps were pulled back and a
curious machine was wheeled into view. Tom rushed over
toward it, intent on getting the first view. Would it prove
to be a copy of his speedy Humming-Bird?

Eagerly he looked, but a curious sight met his eyes. The
machine was totally unlike any he had expected to see. It
was large, and to his mind rather clumsy, but it looked
powerful. Then, as he took in the details, he knew that it
was the same one that had flown over his house that night --
it was the one from which the fire bomb had been dropped.

He pushed his way through the crowd. He saw Andy standing
near the curious biplane, which type of air craft it nearest
resembled, though it had some monoplane features. On the
side was painted the name:


Andy caught sight of Tom Swift.

"I'm going to beat you!" the bully boasted, and I haven't
a machine like yours, after all. You were wrong."

"So I see," stammered Tom, hardly knowing what to think.
"What did you do with my plans then?"

"I never had them!"

Andy turned away, and began to assist the men he had hired
to help him. Like all the others, his machine had two seats,
for in this race each operator must carry a passenger.

Tom turned away, both glad and sorry,--glad that his rival
was not to race him in a duplicate of the Humming-Bird, but
sorry that he had as yet no track of the strangely missing

"I wonder where they can be?" mused the young inventor.

Then came the firing of the preliminary gun. Tom rushed
back to where Mr. Damon stood waiting for him.

There was a last lock at the Humming-Bird. She was fit to
race any machine on the ground. Mr. Damon took his place.
Tom started the propeller. The other contestants were in
their seats with their passengers. Their assistants stood
ready to shove them off. The explosions of so many motors in
action were deafening.

"How much thrust?" cried Tom to his machinist.

"Twenty-two hundred pounds!"


The report of the starting-gun could not be heard. But the
smoke of it leaped into the air. It was the signal to go.

Tom's voice would not have carried five feet. He waved his
hands as a signal. His helper thrust the Humming-Bird
forward. Over the smooth ground it rushed. Tom looked
eagerly ahead. On a line with him were the other machines,
including Andy Foger's Slugger.

Tom pulled a lever. He felt his craft soar upward. The
other machines also pointed their noses into the air.

The big race for the ten-thousand-dollar prize was under way!

Chapter Twenty Four

Won by a Length

Rising upward, on a steep slant, for he wanted to get into
the upper currents as soon as possible, Tom looked down and
off to his left and saw one machine going over the ground in
curious leaps and bounds. It was the tiny Demoiselle--the
smallest craft in the race, and its peculiar style of
starting was always thus manifested.

"I don't believe he's going to make it," thought Tom.

He was right. In another moment the tiny craft, after
rising a short distance, dove downward, and was wrecked. The
young inventor saw the two men crawling out from the tangled
planes and wings, apparently uninjured.

"One contestant less," thought Tom, grimly, though with
pity in his heart for the unfortunates.

However, he must think of himself and his own craft now.
He glanced at Mr. Damon sitting beside him. That odd
gentleman, with never a thought of blessing anything now,
unless he did it silently, was watching the lubricating
system. This was a vital part of the craft, for if anything
went wrong with it, and the bearings overheated, the race
would have to be abandoned. So Tom was not trusting to any
automatic arrangement, but had instituted, almost at the
last moment, a duplicate hand-worked system, so that if
one failed him he would have the other.

"A good start!" shouted Mr. Damon in his car.

Tom nodded, and glanced behind him. On a line with the
Humming-Bird, and at about the same elevation, were the
Bleriot monoplane and a Wright biplane. Below were the
Santos-Dumont and the Antoinette.

"Where's the Slugger?" called Tom to his friend.

Mr. Damon motioned upward. There, in the air above Tom's
machine, and slightly in advance, was Andy Foger's craft. He
had gotten away in better shape than had the Humming-Bird.

For a moment Tom's heart misgave him. Then he turned on
more power, and had the satisfaction of mounting upward and
shooting onward until he was on even terms with Andy.

The bully gave one glance over toward his rival, and
pulled a lever. The Slugger increased her speed, but Tom was
not a second behind him.

There was a roaring noise in the rear, and up shot De
Tromp in the Farman, and Loi Tong, the little Japanese, in
the Santos-Dumont. Truly the race was going to he a hotly
contested one. But the end was far off yet.

After the first jockeying for a start and position, the
race settled down into what might be termed a "grind." The
course was a large one, but so favorable was the atmosphere
that day, and such was the location of Eagle Park in a great
valley, that even on the far side of the great ellipse the
contestants could be seen, dimly with the naked eye, but
very plainly with glasses, with which many of the spectators
were provided.

Around and around they went, at no very great height, for
it was necessary to make out the signals set up by the race
officials, so that the contestants would know when they were
near the finish, that they might use the last atom of speed.
So at varying heights the wonderful machines circled about
the course.

The Humming-Bird was working well, and Tom felt a sense of
pride as he saw the ground slipping away below him. He felt
sure that he would win, even when Alameda, the Spaniard, in
the Antoinette, came creeping up on him, and even when Andy
Foger, with a burst of speed, placed himself and his
passenger in the lead.

"I'll catch him!" muttered Tom, and he opened the throttle
a trifle wider, and went after Andy, passing him with ease.

They had covered about thirty miles of the course, when
the humming and crackling of the wireless apparatus told Tom
that a message was coming. He snapped the receiver to his
ear, adjusting the outer covering to shut out the racket of
the motor, and listened.

"Well?" asked Mr. Damon, as Tom took off the receiver.

"Dad isn't quite so well," answered the lad. "Mr. Jackson
says they have sent for Dr. Hendrix again. But dad is game.
He sends me word to go on and win, and I'll do it, too,

Tom paused, and choked back a sob. Then he prepared to get
more speed out of his motor.

"Of course you will!" cried Mr. Damon. "Bless my--!"

But they encountered an adverse current of wind at that
moment, and it required the attention of both of the
aviators to manage the machine. It was soon on an even keel
again, and once more was shooting forward around the course.

At times Tom would be in advance, and again he would have
to give place to the Curtis, the Farman, or the Santos-
Dumont, as these speedy machines, favored by a spurt from
their motors, or by some current of air, shot ahead. But, in
general, Tom maintained the lead, and among the spectators
there began a series of guesses as to how much he would win

Tom glanced at the barograph. It registered a little over
twelve hundred feet. He looked at the speed gage. He was
doing a trifle better than a hundred miles an hour. He
looked down at the signals. There was twenty miles yet to
go. It was almost time for the spurt for which he had been
holding back. Yet he would wait until five miles from the
end, and then he felt that he could gain and maintain a

"Andy seems to be doing well," said Mr, Damon.

"Yes, he has a good machine," conceded Tom.

Five miles more were reeled off. Then an other five.
Another round of that distance and Tom would key his motor
up to the highest pitch, and then the Humming-Bird would
show what she could do. Eagerly Tom waited for the right

Suddenly the wireless began buzzing again. Quickly the
young inventor clamped the receiver to his ear. Mr. Damon
saw him turn pale.

"Dr. Gladby says dad has a turn for the worse. There is
little hope," translated Tom.

"Will you--are you going to quit?" asked Mr. Damon.

Tom shook his head.

"No!" he cried. "My father has become unconscious, so Mr.
Jackson says, but his last words were to me: 'Tell Tom to
win the race!' And I'm going to do it!"

Tom suddenly changed his plans. There was to be no waiting
for the signal now. He would begin his final spurt, and if
possible finish the hundred miles at his utmost speed, win
the race and then hasten to his father's side.

With a menacing roar the motor of the Humming-Bird took up
the additional power that Tom sent into her. She shot ahead
like an eagle darting after his prey. Tom opened up a big
gap between his machine and the one nearest him, which, at
that moment, was the Antoinette, with the Spaniard driving

"Now to win!" cried Tom, grimly.

Surely no race was ever flown as was that one! Tom flashed
through the air so quickly that his speed was almost
incredible. The gage registered one hundred and thirty miles
an hour!

Down below in the grand stands, and on the aviation field,
there were yells of approval--of wonder--of fear. But Tom
and Mr. Damon could not hear them. They only heard the
powerful song of the motor.

Faster and faster flew the Humming-Bird Tom looked down,
and saw the signal put up which meant that there were but
three miles more to go. He felt that he could do it. He was
half a lap ahead of them all now. But he saw Andy Foger's
machine pulling away from the bunch.

"He's going to try to catch me!" exulted Tom.

Then something happened. The motor of the Humming-Bird
suddenly slackened its speed, it missed explosions, and the
trim little craft began to drop behind.

"What's the matter?" cried Mr. Damon.

"Three of the cylinders are out of business!" yelled Tom.
"We're done for, I guess."

On came the other machines, Andy in the lead, then the
Santos-Dumont, then the Farman, and lastly the Wright. They
saw the plight of the Humming-Bird and determined to beat
her. Tom cast a despairing look up at the motor. There was
nothing to be done. He could not reach it In mid-air. He
could only keep on, crippled as he was, and trust to luck.

Andy passed by his rival with an evil smile on his ugly
face. Then the Antoinette flashed by. In turn all the others
left Tom in the rear Toms heart was like lead. Mr. Damon
gazed blankly forward. They were beaten. It did not seem

There was but a single chance. If Tom shut off all power,
coasted for a moment, and then, ere the propeller had ceased
revolving, if he could start the motor on the spark, the
silent cylinders might pick up, with the others, and begin
again. He would try it. They could be no worse off than they

"A mile behind!" gasped Tom. "It's a long chance, but I'll
take it."

He shut off the power. The motor was silent. the Humming-
Bird began to fall. But ere she had gone down ten feet Tom
suddenly switched on the batteries. There was a moment of
silence, and then came the welcome roar that told of the
rekindled motor. And such a roar as it was! Every cylinder
was exploding as though none of them had ever stopped!

"We did it!" yelled Tom. Opening up at full speed, he sent
the sky racer on the course to overtake and pass his rivals.

Slowly he crept on them. They looked back and saw him
coming. They tried to put on more speed, but it was
impossible. Andy Foger was in the lead. He was being slowly
overhauled by the Santos-Dumont, with the queer tail-

"I'll get him!" muttered Tom. "I'll pass 'em all!"

And he did. With a wonderful burst of speed the little
Humming-Bird overtook one after another of her larger
rivals, and passed them. Then she crept up on Andy's

In an instant more it was done, and, a good length in
advance of the Foger craft, Tom shot over the finish line a
winner, richer by ten thousand dollars, and, not only that,
but he had picked up a mile that had been lost, and had
snatched victory from almost certain defeat.

There was a succession of thundering cheers as he shut off
the motor, and volplaned to earth, but he paid little
attention to them. He brought his craft to a stop just as
the wireless on it buzzed again.

He listened with a look of pain on his face.

"My father is dying," he said simply. "I must go to him.
Mr. Damon, will you fill the tanks with oil and gasoline,
while I send off a message?"

"Oil and gasoline," murmured the odd man, while hundreds
pressed up to congratulate Tom Swift "What are you going to

"I'm going to my father in the Humming-Bird, said Tom.
"It's the only way I can see him alive," and he began to
click off a message to Mr. Jackson, stating that he had won
the race and was going to fly to Shopton, while Mr. Damon
and several others replenished the fuel and oil of the

Tom Swift had won one race. Could he win the other?

Chapter Twenty-Five

Home Again--Conclusion

Mr. Sharp pushed his way through the crowd.

"The committee has the certified check ready for you,
Tom," called the balloonist. "Will you come and get it?"

"Send it to me, please," answered the young inventor. "I
must go to my father."

"Huh! I'd have beaten him in another round," boasted Andy
Foger. No one paid any attention to him.

"Monsieur ezz plucky!" said the Frenchman, Perique. "I am
honaired to shake his hand! He has broken all ze records!"

"Dot's der best machine I effer saw," spoke the Dutchman,
De Tromp, ponderously. "Shake hands!"

"Ver' fine, ver' good!" came from the little Japanese, and
all the contestants congratulated Tom warmly. Never before
had a hundred miles been covered so speedily.

A man elbowed his way through the press of people.

"Is your machine fully protected by patents?" he inquired

"It is," said Tom.

"Then, as a representative of the United States
Government, I would like an option to purchase the exclusive
right to use them," said the man. "Can you guarantee that no
one else has any plans of them? It will mean a fortune to

Tom hesitated. He thought of the stolen plans. If he could
only get possession of them! He glanced at Andy Foger, who
was wheeling his machine hack into the tent. But there was
no time now to have it out with the bully.

"I will see you again," said Tom to the government agent.
"I must go to my father, who is dying. I can't answer you

The tanks were filled. Tom gave a hasty look to his
machine, and, bidding his new friends fairwell, he and Mr.
Damon took their places aboard the Humming-Bird. The little
craft rose in the air, and soon they had left Eagle Park far
behind. Eagerly Tom strained his eyes for a sight of his
home town, though he knew it would be several hours ere he
could hover over it.

Would he be in time? Would he be in time? That question
came to him again and again.

For a time the Humming-Bird skimmed along as though she
delighted in the rapid motion, in slipping through the air
and sliding along on the billows of wind. Tom, with critical
ears, listened to the hum of the motor, the puffing of the
exhaust, the grinding of the gear wheels, and the clicking
of the trips, as valve after valve opened or closed to admit
the mixture of air and gasoline, or closed to give the
compression necessary for the proper explosion.

"Is she working all right?" asked Mr. Damon, anxiously,
and, such was the strain on him that he did not think to
bless anything. "Is she all right, Tom, my lad?"

"I think so. I'm speeding her to the limit. Faster than I
ever did before, but I guess she'll do. She was built to
stand a strain, and she's got to do it now!"

Then there was silence again, as they slid along through
the air like a coaster gliding down a steep descent.

"It was a great race, wasn't it?" asked Mr. Damon, as he
shifted to an easier position in his seat. "A great race,
Tom. I didn't think you'd do it, one spell there."

"Neither did I," came the answer, as the young inventor
changed the spark lever. "But I made up my mind I wouldn't
be beaten by Andy Foger, if I could help it. Though it was
taking a risk to shut off the current the way I did."

"A risk?"

"Yes; it might not have started again," and Tom looked
down at the earth below them, as if measuring the distance he
would have fallen had not his sky racer kept on at the
critical moment.

"And--and if the current hadn't come on again; eh, Tom?
Would we--?"

Mr. Damon did not finish, but Tom knew what he meant.

"It would have been all up with us," he said simply. "I
might have volplaned back to earth, but at the speed we were
going, and at the height, around a curve, we might have
turned turtle."

"Bless my--!" began Mr. Damon, and then he stopped. The
thought of Tom's trouble came to him, and he realized that
his words might grate on the feelings of his companion.

On they rushed through the air with the Humming-Bird
speeded up faster and faster as she warmed to her task. The
machinery seemed to be working perfectly, and as Tom
listened to the hum a look of pleasure replaced the look of
anxiety on his face.

"Don't you think we'll make it?" asked Mr. Damon, after
another pause, during which they passed over a large city,
the inhabitants exhibiting much excitement as they sighted
the airship over their heads.

"We've got to make it!" declared Tom between his clenched

Ne turned on a little more gasoline, and there was a spurt
in their speed which made Mr. Damon grasp the upright braces
near him with firm hands, and his face became a little paler

"It's all right," spoke Tom, reassuringly. "There's no

But Tom almost reckoned without his host, for a few
moments later, as he was trying to get more revolutions out
of the propellers, he ran into an adverse current of air.

In an instant the Humming-Bird was tilted up almost on her
"beams' ends," so to speak, and had it not been that the
young inventor quickly warped the wing tips, to counteract
the pressure on one side, there might have been a different
end to this story.

"Bless my----!" began Mr. Damon, but he got no further,
for he had to bend his body as Tom did, to equalize the
pressure of the wind current.

"A little farther over!" yelled the lad. "A little farther
over this way, Mr. Damon!"

"But if I come any more toward you I'll be out of my
seat!" objected the eccentric man.

"If you don't you'll be out of the aeroplane!" cried Tom
grimly, and his companion leaned over as far as he could
until the young pilot had brought the craft to an even keel

Then Tom speeded up the motor, which he had partly shut
down as they passed through the danger zone, and again they
were racing through space.

They were nearing Shopton now, as the lad and Mr. Damon
could tell by the familiar landmarks which loomed up in
sight. Tom strained his eyes for the first view of his home.

Suddenly, as they were skimming along, there came a
cessation of the hum and roar that told of the perfectly-
working motor. It was an ominous silence.

"What's--what's wrong?" gasped Mr. Damon.

"Something's given way," answered Tom quickly. "I'm afraid
the magneto isn't sparking as it ought to."

"Well, can't we volplane hack to earth?" asked the odd
man, for he had become familiar with this feat when anything
happened to the motor.

"We could," answered Tom, "but I'm not going to."

"Why not?"

"Because we're too far from Shopton--and dad! I'm going to
keep on. I've got to--if I want to be there in time!"

"But if the motor doesn't work?"

"I'll make her work!"

Tom was desperately manipulating the various levers and
handles connected with the electrical ignition system. He
tried in vain to get the magneto to resume the giving out of
sparks, and, failing in that, he switched on the batteries.
But, to his horror, the dry cells had given out. There was
no way of getting a spark unless the little electrical
machine would work.

The propellers were still whirring around by their own
momentum, and if Tom could switch in the magneto in time all
might yet be well.

They had started to fall, but, by quickly bringing up the
head plane tips, Tom sent his craft soaring upward again on
a bank of air.

"Here!" he cried to Mr. Damon. "Take the steering-wheel
and kept her on this level as long as you can."

"What are you going to do?"

"I've got to fix that magneto!"

"But if she dips down?"

"Throw up the head planes as I did. It's our only chance!
I can't go down now, so far from Shopton!"

Mr. Damon reached over and took the wheel from Tom's
hands. Then the young inventor, leaning forward, for the
magneto was within easy reach, looked to see what the
trouble was. He found it quickly. A wire had vibrated loose
from a binding-post. In a second Tom had it in place again;
and, ere the propellers had ceased revolving, he had turned
the switch. The magneto took up the work in a flash. Once
more the spark exploded the gasoline mixture, and the
propellers sent the Humming-Bird swiftly ahead.

"We'll make it now!" declared Tom grimly.

"We're almost there," added Mr. Damon, as he relinquished
the wheel to the young pilot. The craft had gone down some,
but Tom sent her up again.

Nearer and nearer home they came, until at last the spires
of the Shopton churches loomed into view. Then he was over
the village. Now he was within sight of his own house.

Tom coasted down a bank of air, and brought the Humming-
Bird up with a jerk of the ground brakes. Before the wheels
had ceased turning he had leaped out.

"It's Massa Tom!" cried Eradicate, as he saw Tom alight.

The young inventor hurried into the house. He was met by
the nurse, who held up a warning finger. Tom's heart almost
stopped beating. He was aware that Dr. Gladby came from the
room where Mr. Swift lay.

"Is he--is he--am I too late?" gulped Tom.

"Hush!" cautioned the nurse.

Tom reeled, and would have fallen had not the doctor
caught him, for the lad was weak and wornout.

"He is going to get well!" were the joyful words he heard,
as if in a dream, and then his strength suddenly came back
to him. "The crisis is just passed, Tom," went on Dr.
Gladby, "and your father will recover, and be stronger than
ever. Your good news of winning was like a tonic to him. Now
let me congratulate you on the race." Tom had flashed by
wireless a brief message of his success.

"Dad's news is better than all the congratulations in the
world," he said softly, as he grasped the doctor's hand.

* * * * * *

It was a week later. Mr. Swift improved rapidly once the
course of the disease was permanently checked, and he was
soon able to sit up. Tom was with him in the room, talking
of the great race, and how he had won. He fingered the
certified check for ten thousand dollars that had just come
to him by mail.

"You certainly did wonderfully well," said the aged
inventor, softly. "Wonderfully well, Tom. I'm proud of you."

"You may well be," added Mr. Damon. "Bless my shoelaces,
but I thought Andy Foger had us there one spell; didn't you,

"Indeed I did. But you helped me win, Mr. Damon."

"Nonsense!" exclaimed the odd man.

"Yes, you did. You helped me a lot."

"Well, are you going to keep after more air-prizes, Tom, or
are you going to try for something else?" asked his father.

"I don't believe I'll go in any more aeroplane races right
away," answered the young inventor. "For some time I've been
wanting to complete and perfect my electric rifle. I think
I'll begin work on that soon."

"And go hunting?" asked Mr. Damon.

"I think so," answered Tom, dreamily. "I don't know just
where, though."

Where he went, and what he shot, will be told in the next
volume of this series, to be called: "Tom Swift and His
Electric Rifle; or, Daring Adventures in Elephant Land."

For a few moments after Tom's announcement no one spoke,
then the young inventor said:

"It's too bad that first set of plans were stolen. If I
had them I could make a good deal with the Government about
my little aeroplane. But they don't want to take up with it
as long as there is a chance of some foreign nation getting
information about the secret parts, and my patents won't
hold abroad. I wonder if there is any way of getting those
plans away from Andy Foger? I don't understand why he
hasn't used them before this. I thought sure he would make
a craft like the Humming-Bird to race against me."

"What plans are those?" asked Mr. Swift.

"Why, don't you remember?" asked Tom. "The ones I showed
you one day, in the library, when you fell asleep, and some
one slipped in and stole them."

A curious look came over Mr. Swift's face. He passed his
hand across his brow.

"I am beginning to remember something I have been trying
to recall ever since I became ill," he said slowly. "It is
coming back to me. Those plans--in the library--I fell
asleep, but before I did so I hid those plans, Tom!"

"You hid those plans!" Tom fairly shouted the words.

"Yes, I remember feeling a drowsy feeling coming on, and
I feared lest some one might see the drawings. I got up and
put them under the window, in a little, hollow place in the
foundation wall. Then I came back in through the window
again, and went to sleep. Then, on account of my illness,
just as I once before forgot something, and thought the
minister had called, I lost all recollection of them. I hid
those plans."

Tom leaped to his feet. He rushed to the place named by
his father. Soon his triumphant shout told of his success.
He came hurrying back into the house with a roll of papers
in his hands.

And there were the long-missing plans! damp and stained by
the weather, but all there. No enemy had them, and Tom's
secret was safe.

"Now I can accept the Government offer!" he cried. And a
few weeks later he made a most advantageous deal with the
United States officials for his patents.

Dr. Gladby explained that Mr. Swift's queer action was due
to his illness. He became liable to lapses of memory, and
one happened just after he hid away the plans. Even the
hiding of them was caused by the peculiar condition of his
brain. He had opened the library window, slipped oat with
the papers, and hastened in again, to fall asleep in his
chair, during the short time Tom was gone.

"And Andy Foger never took them at all," remarked Mary
Nestor, when Tom was telling her about it a few days

"No. I guess I must apologize to him." Which Tom did, but
Andy did not receive it very graciously, especially as Tom
accused him of trying to destroy the Humming-Bird.

Andy denied this and denied having anything to do with the
mysterious fire, and, as there was no way to prove him
guilty, Tom could not proceed against him. So the matter
was dropped.

Mr. Swift continued to improve, and was soon himself
again, and able to resume his inventive work. Tom received
several offers to give exhibition flights at big aero meets,
but refused, as he was busy on his new rifle. Mr. Damon
helped him.

Andy Foger made several successful flights in his queer
aeroplane, which turned out to be the product of a German
genius who was supplied with money by Mr. Foger. Andy became
very proud, and boasted that he and the German were going
abroad to give flights in Europe.

"I'd be glad if he would," said Tom, when he heard of the
plan. "He wouldn't bother me then."

With the money received from winning the big race, and
from his contracts from the Government, Tom Swift was now in
a fair way to become quite wealthy. He was destined to
have many more adventures; yet, come what might, never would
he forget the thrilling happenings that fell to his lot
while flying for the ten-thousand dollar prize in his sky racer.

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