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

Tom Swift and His Airship by Victor Appleton

Part 3 out of 3

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

Tom glanced around the restaurant. There were few persons in it save
himself and Mr. Damon. The pretty waitress was still regarding the two

"We ought to take that paper along with us, to show to Mr. Sharp,"
said Tom, in a low voice to his friend. "I haven't had time to take it
all in myself, yet. Let's go. I've had enough to eat, haven't you?"

"Yes. My appetite is gone now."

As they arose, to pay their checks the girl advanced.

"Can you tell me where I can get a copy of this paper?" asked Tom, as
he laid down a generous tip on the table, for the girl. Her eyes
opened rather wide.

"Yo' all are fo'gettin' some of yo' money." she said, in her broad,
southern tones. Tom thought her the prettiest girl he ever seen,
excepting Mary Nestor.

"Oh, that's for you," replied the young inventor. "It's a tip. Aren't
you in the habit of getting them down here?"

"Not very often. Thank yo' all. But what did yo' all ask about that

"I asked where I could get a copy of it. There is something in it that
interests me."

"Yes, an' Ah reckon Ah knows what it is," exclaimed the girl. "It's
about that airship with th' robbers in it!"

"How do you know?" inquired Tom quickly, and he tried to seem cool,
though he felt the hot blood mounting to his cheeks.

"Oh, Ah saw yo' all readin' it. Everybody down heah is crazy about it.
We all think th' ship is comin' down this way, 'cause it says th'
robbers was intendin' to start south befo' they robbed th' bank. Ah
wish Ah could collect thet five thousand dollars. If Ah could see that
airship, I wouldn't work no mo' in this eatin' place. What do yo' all
reckon thet airship looks like?" and the girl gazed intently at Tom
and Mr. Damon.

"Why, bless my-" began the eccentric man, but Tom broke in hurriedly:

"Oh, I guess it looks like most any other airship," for he feared that
if his companion used any of his odd expressions he might be
recognized, since our hero had not had time to read the article in the
paper through, and was not sure whether or not a description of
himself, Mr. Damon and Mr. Sharp was given.

"Well, Ah suah wish I could collect thet reward," went on the girl.
"Everybody is on th' lookout. Yo' all ain't see th' airship; have yo'

"Where can we get a paper like this?" asked Tom, again, not wanting to
answer such a leading question.

"Why, yo' all is suah welcome to that one," was the reply. "Ah guess
Ah can affo'd to give it to yo' all, after th' generous way yo' all
behaved to me. Take it, an' welcome. But are yo' all suah yo' are done
eatin' ? Yo' all left lots."

"Oh, we had enough," replied Tom hurriedly. His sole aim now was to
get away-to consult with Mr. Sharp, and he needed the paper to learn
further details of the astonishing news. He and his friends accused of
looting the bank, and taking away seventy-five thousand dollars in the
airship! It was incredible! A reward of five thousand dollars offered
for their capture! They might be arrested any minute, yet they could
not go on without buying some provisions. What were they to do?

Once outside the restaurant, Mr. Damon and Tom walked swiftly on. They
came to a corner where there was a street lamp, and there the young
inventor paused to scan the paper again. It was the copy of a journal
published in the nearby county seat, and contained quite a full
account of the affair.

The story was told of how the bank had been broken into, the vault
rifled and the money taken. The first clue, it said, was given by a
youth named Andy Foger, who had seen a former acquaintance hanging
around the bank with burglar tools. Tom recognized the description of
himself as the "former acquaintance," but he could not understand the

"Burglar tools? I wonder how Andy could say that?" he asked Mr. Damon.

"Wait until we get back, and we'll ask John Sharp," suggested his
companion. "This is very strange. I am going to sue some one for
spreading false reports about me! Bless my ledgers, why I have money
on deposit in that bank! To think that I would rob it!"

"Poor dad!" murmured Tom. "This must be hard for him. But what about
ordering food? Maybe if we buy any they will trail us, find the
airship and capture it. I don't want to be arrested, even if I am
innocent, and I certainly don't want the airship to fall into the
hands of the police. They might damage it"

"We must go see Mr. Sharp," declared Mr. Damon, and back to where the
Red Cloud was concealed they went.

To say that the balloonist was astonished is putting it mildly. He was
even more excited than was Mr. Damon.

"Wait until I get hold of that Andy Foger!" he cried. "I'll make him
sweat for this! I see he's already laid claim to the reward," he
added, reading further along in the article. "He thinks he has put the
police on our trail."

"So he seems to have done," added Tom. "The whole country has been
notified to look out for us," the paper says. "We're likely to be
fired upon whenever we pass over a city or a town."

"Then we'll have to avoid them," declared the balloonist.

"But we must go back," declared Tom.

"Of course. Back to be vindicated. We'll have to give up our trip. My,
my! But this is a surprise!"

"I don't see what makes Andy say he saw me with burglar tools,"
commented Tom, with a puzzled air.

Mr. Sharp thought for a moment. Then he exclaimed "It was that bag of
tools I sent you after-the long wrenches, the pliers, and the brace
and bits.You "

"Of course!" cried Tom. "I remember now. The bag dropped and opened,
and Andy and Sam saw the tools. But the idea of taking them for
burglar tools!"

"Well, I suppose the burglars, whoever they were, did use tools
similar to those to break open the vault," put in Mr. Damon. "Andy
probably thought he was a smart lad to put the police on our track."

"I'll put him on the track, when I return," declared Mr. Sharp. "Well,
now, what's to be done?"

"We've got to have food," suggested Tom.

"Yes, but I think we can manage that. I've been looking over the ship,
as best I could in the dark. It seems to be all right. We can start
early in the morning without anyone around here knowing we paid their
town a visit. You and Mr. Damon go back to town, Tom, and order some
stuff. Have the man leave it by the roadside early to-morrow morning.
Tell him it's for some travelers, who will stop and pick it up. Pay
him well, and tell him to keep quiet, as it's for a racing party.
That's true enough. We're going to race home to vindicate our
reputations. I think that will be all right."

"The man may get suspicious," said Mr. Damon.

"I hope not," answered the balloonist. "We've got to take a chance,

The plan worked well, however, the store keeper promising to have the
supplies on hand at the time and place mentioned. He winked as Tom
asked him to keep quiet about it.

"Oh, I know yo' automobile fellers," he said with a laugh. "You want
to get some grub on the fly, so you won't have to stop, an' can beat
th' other fellow. I know you, fer I see them automobile goggles
stickin' out of your pocket."

Tom and Mr. Damon each had a pair, to use when the wind was strong,
but the young inventor had forgotten about his. They now served him a
good turn, for they turned the thoughts of the storekeeper into a new
channel. The lad let it go at that, and, paying for such things as he
and Mr. Damon could not carry, left the store.

The aeronauts passed an uneasy night. They raised their ship high in
the air, anchoring it by a rope fast to a big tree, and they turned on
no lights, for they did not want to betray their position. They
descended before it was yet daylight, and a little later hurried to
the place where the provisions were left. They found their supplies
safely on hand, and, carrying them into the airship, prepared to turn
back to Shopton.

As the ship rose high in the air a crowd of negro laborers passing
through a distant field, saw it. At once they raised a commotion,
shouting and pointing to the wonderful sight.

"We're discovered!" cried Tom.

"No matter," answered Mr. Sharp. "We'll soon be out of sight, and
we'll fly high the rest of this trip."

Tom looked down on the fast disappearing little hamlet, and he thought
of the pretty girl in the restaurant.

Chapter 19 - Wrecked

With her nose headed north, the Red Cloud swung along through the air.
Those on board were thinking of many things, but chief among them was
the unjust accusation that had been made against them, by an
irresponsible boy-the red-haired Andy Foger. They read the account in
the paper again, seeking to learn from it new things at each perusal.

"It's just a lot of circumstantial evidence that's what it is," said
Tom. "I admit it might look suspicious to anyone who didn't know us,
but Andy Foger has certainly done the most mischief by his
conclusions. Burglar tools! The idea!"

"I think I shall sue the bank for damages," declared Mr. Damon. "They
have injured my reputation by making this accusation against me.
Anyhow, I'll certainly never do any more business with them, and I'll
withdraw my ten thousand dollars deposit, as soon as we get back."

"Mr. Sharp doesn't seem to be accused of doing anything at all,"
remarked Tom, reading the article for perhaps the tenth time.

"Oh, I guess I'm a sort of general all-around bad man, who helped you
burglars to escape with the booty," answered the balloonist, with a
laugh. "I expect to be arrested along with you two."

"But must we be arrested?" inquired Tom anxiously. "I don't like that
idea at all. We haven't done anything."

"This is my plan," went on Mr. Sharp. "We'll get back to Shopton as
quickly as we can. We'll arrive at night, so no one will see us, and,
leaving the airship in some secluded spot, we'll go to the police and
explain matters. We can easily prove that we had nothing to do with
the robbery. Why we were all home the night it happened! Mr. Swift,
Mr. Jackson and Mrs. Baggert can testify to that."

"Yes," agreed Mr. Damon. "I guess they can. Bless my bank book, but
that seems a good plan. We'll follow it."

Proceeding on the plan which they had decided was the best one, the
Red Cloud was sent high into the air. So high up was it that, at
tunes, a was above the clouds. Though this caused some little
discomfort at first, especially to Mr. Damon, he soon became used to
it, as did the others. And it had the advantage of concealing them
from the persons below who might be on the lookout.

"For we don't want to be shot at again," explained Mr. Sharp. "It
isn't altogether healthy, and not very safe. If we keep high up they
can't see us; much less shoot at us. They'll take us for some big
bird. Then, too, we can go faster."

"I suppose there will be another alarm sent out, from those negroes
having sighted us," ventured Tom.

"Oh, yes, but those colored fellows were so excited they may describe
us as having horns, hoofs and a tail, and their story may not be
believed. I'm not worrying about them. My chief concern is to drive
the Red Cloud for all she is worth. I want to explain some things back
there in Shopton."

As if repenting of the way it had misbehaved over the forest fire, the
airship was now swinging along at a rapid rate. Seated in the cabin
the travelers would have really enjoyed the return trip had it not
been for the accusation hanging over them. The weather was fine and
clear, and as they skimmed along, now and then coming out from the
clouds, they caught glimpses below them of the earth above which they
were traveling. They had a general idea of their location, from
knowing the town where the paper had given them such astounding news,
and it was easy to calculate their rate of progress.

After running about a hundred miles or so, at high speed Mr. Sharp
found it necessary to slow down the motor, as some of the new bearings
were heating. Still this gave them no alarm, as they were making good
time. They came to a stop that night, and calculated that by the next
evening, or two at the latest, they would be back in Shopton. But they
did not calculate on an accident.

One of the cylinders on the big motor cracked, as they started up next
morning, and for some hours they had to hang in the air, suspended by
the gas in the container, while Mr. Sharp and Tom took out the damaged
part, and put in a spare one, the cylinders being cast separately. It
was dusk when they finished, and too late to start up, so they
remained about in the same place until the next day.

Morning dawned with a hot humidness, unusual at that time of the year,
but partly accounted for by the fact that they were still within the
influence of the southern climate. With a whizz the big propellers
were set in motion, and, with Tom at the wheel, the ship being about
three miles in the air, to which height it had risen after the repairs
were made, the journey was recommenced.

"It's cooler up here than down below," remarked Tom, as he shifted the
wheel and rudder a bit, in response to a gust of wind, that heeled the
craft over.

"Yes, I think we're going to have a storm," remarked Mr. Sharp, eyeing
the clouds with a professional air. "We may run ahead of it, or right
into it. We'll go down a bit, toward night, when there's less danger
of being shot."

So far, on their return trip, they had not been low enough, in the day
time, to be in any danger from persons who hoped to earn the five
thousand dollars reward.

The afternoon passed quickly, and it got dark early. There was a
curious hum to the wind, and, hearing it, Mr. Sharp began to go about
the ship, seeing that everything was fast and taut.

"We're going to have a blow," he remarked, "and a heavy one, too.
We'll have to make everything snug, and be ready to go up or down, as
the case calls for."

"Up or down?" inquired Mr. Damon.

"Yes. By rising we may escape the blow, or, by going below the strata
of agitated air, we may escape it."

"How about rain?"

"Well, you can get above rain, but you can't get below it, with the
law of gravitation working as it does at present. How's the gas
generator, Tom?"

"Seems to be all right," replied the young inventor, who had
relinquished the wheel to the balloonist.

They ate an early supper, and, hardly had the dishes been put away,
when from the west, where there was a low-flying bank of clouds, there
came a mutter of thunder. A little later there was a dull, red
illumination amid the rolling masses of vapor.

"There's the storm, and she's heading right this way," commented Mr.

"Can't you avoid it?" asked Mr. Damon, anxiously.

"I could, if I knew how high it was, but I guess we'll wait and see
how it looks as we get closer."

The airship was flying on, and the storm, driven by a mighty wind, was
rushing to meet it. Already there was a sighing, moaning sound in the
wire and wooden braces of the Red Cloud.

Suddenly there came such a blast that it heeled the ship over on her

"Shift the equilibrium rudders!" shouted Mr. Sharp to Tom, turning the
wheel and various levers over to the lad. "I'm going to get more speed
out of the motor!"

Tom acted just in time, and, after bobbing about like a cork on the
water, the ship was righted, and sent forging ahead, under the
influence of the propellers worked at top speed. Nor was this any too
much, for it needed all the power of the big engine to even partially
overcome the force of the wind that was blowing right against the Red
Cloud. Of course they might have turned and flown before it, but they
wanted to go north, not south-they wanted to face their accusers.

Then, after the first fury of the blast had spent itself, there came a
deluge of rain, following a dazzling glare of lightning and a bursting
crash of thunder.

In spite of the gale buffeting her, the airship was making good
progress. The skill of Tom and the balloonist was never shown to
better advantage. All around them the storm raged, but through it the
craft kept on her way. Nothing could be seen but pelting sheets of
water and swirling mist, yet onward the ship was driven.

The thunder was deafening, and the lightning nearly blinded them,
until the electrics were switched on, flooding the cabin with
radiance. Inside the car they were snug and dry, though the pitching
of the craft was like that of a big liner in the trough of the ocean

"Will she weather it, do you think?" called Mr. Damon, in the ear of
Mr. Sharp, shouting so as to be heard above the noise of the elements,
and the hum of the motor.

The balloonist nodded.

"She's a good ship," he answered proudly.

Hardly had he spoken when there came a crash louder than any that had
preceded, and the flash of rosy light that accompanied it seemed to
set the whole heavens on fire. At the same time there was violent
shock to the ship.

"We're hit! Struck by lightning!" yelled Tom.

"We're falling!" cried Mr. Damon an instant later.

Mr. Sharp looked at the elevation gauge. The hand was slowly swinging
around. Down, down dropped the Red Cloud. She was being roughly
treated by the storm.

"I'm afraid we're wrecked!" said the balloonist in a low voice,
scarcely audible above the roar of the tempest. Following the great
crash had come a comparatively light bombardment from the sky

"Use the gliding rudder, Tom," called Mr. Sharp, a moment later. "We
may fall, but we'll land as easily as possible."

The wind, the rain, the lightning and thunder continued. Down, down
sank the ship. Its fall was somewhat checked by the rudder Tom swung
into place, and by setting the planes at a different angle. The motor
had been stopped, and the propellers no longer revolved. In the
confusion and darkness it was not safe to run ahead, with the danger
of oolliding with unseen objects on the earth.

They tried to peer from the windows, but could see nothing. A moment
later, as they stared at each other with fear in their eyes, there
came a shock. The ship trembled from end to end.

"We've landed!" cried Tom, as he yanked back on the levers. The
airship came to a stop.

"Now to see where we are," said Mr. Sharp grimly, "and how badly we
are wrecked."

Chapter 20 - Tom Gets A Clue

Out of the cabin of the now stationary airship hurried the three
travelers; out into the pelting rain, which was lashed into their
faces by the strong wind. Tom was the first to emerge.

"We're on something solid!" he cried, stamping his feet. "A rock, I

"Gracious, I hope we're not on a rock in the midst of a river!"
exclaimed Mr. Damon. "Bless my soul, though! The water does seem to be
running around my ankles."

"There's enough rain to make water run almost up to our necks," called
Mr. Sharp, above the noise of the storm. "Tom, can you make out where
we are?"

"Not exactly. Is the ship all right?"

"I can't see very well, but there appears to be a hole in the gas
container. A big one, too, or we wouldn't have fallen so quickly."

The plight of the travelers of the air was anything but enviable. They
were wet through, for it needed only a few minutes exposure to the
pelting storm to bring this about. They could not tell, in the midst
of the darkness, where they were, and they almost feared to move for
fear they might be on top of some rock or precipice, over which they
might tumble if they took a false step.

"Let's get back inside the ship," proposed Mr. Damon. "It's warm and
dry there, at all events. Bless my umbrella, I don't know when I've
been so wet!"

"I'm not going in until I find out where we are," declared Tom. "Wait
a minute, and I'll go in and get an electric flash lantern. That will
show us," for the lightning had ceased with the great crash that
seemed to have wrecked the Red Cloud. The rain still kept up, however,
and there was a distant muttering of thunder, while it was so black
that had not the lights in the cabin of the airship been faintly
glowing they could hardly have found the craft had they moved ten feet
away from it.

Tom soon returned with the portable electric lamp, operated by dry
batteries. He flashed it on the surface of where they were standing,
and uttered an exclamation.

"We're on a roof!" he cried.

"A roof?" repeated Mr. Damon.

"Yes; the roof of some large building, and what you thought was a
river is the rain water running off it. See!"

The young inventor held the light down so his companions could observe
the surface of that upon which the airship rested. There was no doubt
of it. They were on top of a large building.

"If we're on a roof we must be in the midst of a city," objected Mr.
Damon. "But I can't see any lights around, and we would see them if we
were in a city, you know."

"Maybe the storm put the lights out of business," suggested Mr. Sharp.
"That often occurs."

"I know one way we can find out for certain," went on Tom.


"Start up our search lamp, and play it all around. We can't make sure
how large this roof is in the dark, and it's risky trying to trace the
edges by walking around."

"Yes, and it would be risky to start our searchlight going," objected
Mr. Sharp. "People would see it, and there'd be a crowd up here in
less than no time, storm or no storm. No, we've got to keep dark until
I can see what's the matter. We must leave here before daylight."

"Suppose we can't?" asked Mr. Damon. "The crowds will be sure to see
us then, anyhow."

"I am pretty sure we can get away," was the opinion of the balloonist.
"Even if our gas container is so damaged that it will not sustain us,
we are still an aeroplane, and this roof being flat will make a good
place to start from. No, we can leave as soon as this storm lets up a

"Then I'm going to have a look and find out what sort of a building
this is," declared Tom, and, while Mr. Sharp began a survey, as well
as he could in the dark, of the airship, the young inventor proceeded
cautiously to ascertain the extent of the roof.

The rain was not coming down quite so hard now, and Tom found it
easier to see. Mr. Damon, finding he could do nothing to help, went
back into the cabin, blessing himself and his various possessions at
the queer predicament in which they found themselves.

Flashing his light every few seconds, Tom walked on until he came to
one edge of the roof. It was very large, as he could judge by the time
it took him to traverse it. There was a low parapet at the edge. He
peered over, and an expanse of dark wall met his eyes.

"Must have come to one side," he reasoned. "I want to get to the
front. Then, maybe, I can see a sign that will tell me what I want to

The lad turned to the left, and, presently came to another parapet. It
was higher, and ornamented with terra-cotta bricks. This, evidently,
was the front. As Tom peered over the edge of the little raised ledge,
there flashed out below him hundreds of electric lights. The city
illuminating plant was being repaired. Then Tom saw flashing below him
one of those large signs made of incandescent lights. It was in front
of the building, and as soon as our hero saw the words he knew where
the airship had landed. For what he read, as he leaned over, was this:


Tom gave a cry.

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

"I've discovered something," answered Tom, hurrying up to his friend.
"We're on top of the Middleville Arcade building."

"What does that mean?"

"It means that we're not so very far from home, and in the midst of a
fairly large city. But it means more than that."

"What?" demanded the balloonist, struck by an air of excitement about
the lad, for, as Tom stood in the subdued glow of the lights from one
of the airship's cabin windows, all the others having been darkened as
the storm slackened, his, eyes shone brightly.

"This is the building where Anson Morse, one of the gang that robbed
dad, once had an office," went on Tom eagerly. "That was brought out
at the trial. And it's the place where they used to do some of their
conspiring. Maybe some of the crowd are here now laying low."

"Well, if they are, we don't want anything to do with that gang," said
Mr. Sharp. "We can't arrest them. Besides I've found out that our ship
is all right, after all. We can proceed as soon as we like. There is
only a small leak in the gas container. It was the generator machine
that was put out of business by the lightning, and I've repaired it."

"I want to see if I can get any trace of the rascals. Maybe I could
learn something from the janitor of the Arcade about them. The janitor
is probably here."

"But why do you want to get any information about that gang?"

"Because," answered Tom, and, as Mr. Damon at that moment started to
come from the cabin of the airship, the lad leaped forward and
whispered the remainder of the sentence into the ear of the

"You don't mean it!" exclaimed Mr. Sharp, in a tense whisper. Tom
nodded vigorously.

"But how can you enter the building?" asked the other. "You can't drop
over the edge."

"Down the scuttle," answered Tom. "There must be one on the roof, for
they have to come up here at times. We can force the lock, if
necessary. I want to enter the building and see where Morse had his

"All right. Go ahead. I'll engage Mr. Damon here so he won't follow
you. It will be great news for him. Go ahead."

Under pretense of wanting the help of the eccentric man in completing
the repairs he had started, Mr. Sharp took Mr. Damon back into the
cabin. Tom, getting a big screwdriver from an outside toolbox,
approached the scuttle on the roof. He could see it looming up in the
semidarkness, a sort of box, covering a stairway that led down into
the building. The door was locked, but Tom forced it, and felt
justified. A few minutes later, cautiously flashing his light, almost
like a burglar he thought, he was prowling around the corridors of the
office structure.

Was it deserted? That was what he wanted to know. He knew the office
Morse had formerly occupied was two floors from the top. Tom descended
the staircase, trying to think up some excuse to offer, in case he met
the watchman or janitor. But he encountered no one. As he reached the
floor where he knew Morse and his gang were wont to assemble, he
paused and listened. At first he heard nothing, then, as the sound of
the storm became less he fancied he heard the murmur of voices.

"Suppose it should be some of them?" whispered Tom.

He went forward, pausing at almost every other step to listen. The
voices became louder. Tom was now nearly at the office, where Morse
had once had his quarters. Now he could see it, and his heart gave a
great thump as he noticed that the place was lighted. The lad could
read the name on the door. "Industrial Development Company." That was
the name of a fake concern headed by Morse. As our hero looked he saw
the shadows of two men thrown on the ground glass.

"Some one's in there!" he whispered to himself. He could now hear the
voices much plainer. They came from the room, but the lad could not
distinguish them as belonging to any of the gang with whom he had come
in contact, and who had escaped from jail.

The low murmur went on for several seconds.

The listener could make out no words. Suddenly the low, even mumble
was broken. Some one cried out "There's got to be a divvy soon.
There's no use letting Morse hold that whole seventy-five thousand any
longer. I'm going to get what's coming to me, or-"

"Hush!" some one else cried. "Be quiet!"

"No, I won't! I want my share. I've waited long enough. If I don't get
what's coming to me inside of a week, I'll go to Shagmon myself and
make Morse whack up. I helped on the job, and I want my money!"

"Will you be quiet?" pleaded another, and, at that instant Tom heard
some one's hand on the knob. The door opened a crack, letting out a
pencil of light. The men were evidently coming out. The young inventor
did not wait to hear more. He had a clue now, and, running on tiptoes,
he made his way to the staircase and out of the scuttle on the roof.

Chapter 21 - On The Trail

"What's the matter, Tom?" asked Mr. Sharp, as the lad came hurrying
along the roof, having taken the precaution to fasten the scuttle door
as well as he could. "You seem excited.""So would you, if you had
heard what I did."

"What? You don't mean that some of the gang is down there?"

"Yes, and what's more I'm on the trail of the thieves who robbed the
Shopton Bank of the seventy-five thousand dollars!"

"No! You don't mean it!"

"I certainly do."

"Then we'd better tell Mr. Damon. He's in the cabin."

"Of course I'll tell him. He's as much concerned as I am. He wants to
be vindicated. Isn't it great luck, though?"

"But you haven't landed the men yet. Do you mean to say that the same
gang-the Happy Harry crowd-robbed the bank?"

"I think so, from what I heard. But come inside and I'll tell you all
about it."

"Suppose we start the ship first? It's ready to run. There wasn't as
much the matter with it as I feared. The storm is over now, and we'll
be safer up in the air than on this roof. Did you get all the
information you could?"

"All I dared to. The men were coming out, so I had to run. They were
quarreling, and when that happens among thieves-"

"Why honest men get their dues, everyone knows that proverb,"
interrupted Mr. Damon, again emerging from the cabin. "But bless my
quotation marks, I should think you'd have something better to do than
stand there talking proverbs."

"We have," replied Mr. Sharp quickly. "We're going to start the ship,
arid then we have some news for you. Tom, you take the steering wheel,
and I'll start the gas machine. We'll rise to some distance before
starting the propellers, and then we won't create any excitement."

"But what news are you going to tell me?" asked Mr. Damon. "Bless my
very existence, but you get me all excited, and then you won't gratify
my curiosity."

"In a little while we will," responded Mr. Sharp. Lively now, Tom.
Some one may see this airship on top of the building, as it's getting
so much lighter now, after the storm."

The outburst of the elements was almost over and Tom taking another
look over the edge of the roof, could see persons moving about in the
street below. The storm clouds were passing and a faint haze showed
where a moon would soon make its appearance, thus disclosing the craft
so oddly perched upon the roof. There was need of haste.

Fortunately the Red Cloud could be sent aloft without the use of the
propellers, for the gas would serve to lift her. It had been found
that lightning had struck the big, red aluminum container, but the
shock had been a comparatively slight one, and, as the tank was
insulated from the rest of the ship no danger resulted to the
occupants. A rent was made in two or three of the gas compartments,
but the others remained intact, and, when an increased pressure of the
vapor was used the ship was almost as buoyant as before.

Into the cabin the three travelers hurried, dripping water at every
step, for there was no time to change clothes. Then, with Tom and Mr.
Sharp managing the machinery, the craft slowly rose. It was well that
they had started for, when a few hundred feet above the roof, the moon
suddenly shone from behind a bank of clouds and would most certainly
have revealed their position to persons in the street. As it was
several were attracted by the sight of some great object in the air.
They called the attention of others to it, but, by the time glasses
and telescopes had been brought to bear, the Red Cloud was far away.

"Dry clothes now, some hot drinks, and then Tom will tell us his
secret," remarked Mr. Sharp, and, with the great ship swaying high
above the city of Middleville Tom told what he had heard in the office

"They are the thieves who looted the bank, and caused us to be
unjustly accused," he finished. "If we can capture them we'll get the
reward, and turn a neat trick on Andy Foger and his cronies."

"But how can you capture them?" asked Mr. Damon. "You don't know where
they are."

"Perhaps not where Morse and the men who have the money are. But I
have a plan. It's this: We'll go to some quiet place, leave the
airship, and then inform the authorities of our suspicions. They can
come here and arrest the men who still seem to be hanging out in
Morse's office. Then we can get on the trail of this Shagmon, who
seems to be the person in authority this time, though I never heard of
him before.

He seems to have the money, according to what one of the men in the
office said, and he's the man we want."

"Shagmon!" exclaimed Mr. Damon. "Yes, Shagmon. The fellow I heard
talking 'said he'd go to Shagmon and make Morse whack up. Shagmon may
be the real head of the gang."

"Ha! I have it!" cried Mr. Damon suddenly. "I wonder I didn't think of
it before. Shagmon is the headquarters, not the head of the gang!"

"What do you mean?" asked Tom, much excited.

"I mean that there's a town called Shagmon about fifty miles from
here. That's what the fellow in the office meant. He is going to the
town of Shagmon and make Morse whack up. That's where Morse is! That's
where the gang is hiding! That's where the money is! Hurrah, Tom,
we're on the trail!"

Chapter 22 - The Sheriff On Board

The announcement of Mr. Damon came as a great surprise to Tom and Mr.
Sharp. They had supposed that the reference to Shagmon was to a
person, and never dreamed that it was to a locality. But Mr. Damon's
knowledge of geography stood them in good stead.

"Well, what's the first thing to do?" asked Tom, after a pause.

"The first thing would be to go to Shagmon, or close to it, I should
say," remarked Mr. Sharp. "In what direction is it, Mr. Damon?"

"Northwest from where we were. It's a county seat, and that will suit
our plans admirably, for we can call on the sheriff for help."

"That is if we locate the gang," put in Tom. "I fancy it will be no
easy job, though. How are we going about it?"

"Let's first get to Shagmon," suggested the balloonist. "We'll select
some quiet spot for a landing, and then talk matters over. We may
stumble on the gang, just as you did, Tom, on the men in the office."

"No such good luck, I'm afraid."

"Well, I think we'll all be better for a little sleep," declared the
eccentric man. "Bless my eyelids but I'm tired out."

As there was no necessity for standing watch, when the airship was so
high up as to be almost invisible, they all turned in, and were soon
sleeping soundly, though Tom had hard work at first to compose
himself, for he was excited at the prospect of capturing the
scoundrels, recovering the money for the bank, and clearing his good
name, as well as those of his friends.

In the morning careful calculations were made to enable the travelers
to tell when they had reached a point directly over the small city of
Shagmon, and, with the skill of the veteran balloonist to aid them,
this was accomplished. The airship was headed in the proper direction,
and, about ten o'clock, having made out by using telescopes, that
there was plenty of uninhabited land about the city, the craft was
sent aloft again, out of a large crowd that had caught sight of it.
For it was the intention of the travelers not to land until after
dark, as they wanted to keep their arrival quiet. There were two
reasons for this. One was that the whole country was eager to arrest
them, to claim the reward offered by the bank, and they did not want
this to happen. The other reason was that they wanted to go quietly
into town, tell the sheriff their story, and enlist his aid.

All that day the Red Cloud consorted with the masses of fleecy vapor,
several miles above the earth, a position being maintained, as nearly
as could be judged by instruments, over a patch of woodland where Mr.
Sharp had decided to land, as there were several large clearings in
it. Back and forth above the clouds, out of sight, the airship drifted
lazily to and fro; sometimes, when she got too far off her course,
being brought back to the right spot by means of the propellers.

It was tedious waiting, but they felt it was the only thing to do. Mr.
Sharp and Tom busied themselves making adjustments to several parts of
apparatus that needed it. Nothing could be done toward repairing the
hole in the aluminum container until a shop or shed was reached, but
the ship really did not need these repairs to enable it to be used.
Mr. Damon was fretful, and "blessed" so many things during the course
of the day that there seemed to be nothing left. Dinner and supper
took up some time, really good meals being served by Tom, who was
temporarily acting as cook. Then they anxiously waited for darkness,
when they could descend.

"I hope the moon isn't too bright," remarked Mr. Sharp, as he went
carefully over the motor once more, for he did not want it to balk
again. "If it shines too much it will discover us."

"But a little light would be a fine thing, and show us a good place to
land," argued Tom.

Fortune seemed to favor the adventurers. There was a hazy light from
the moon, which was covered by swiftly moving dark clouds, now and
then, a most effective screen for the airship, as its great, moving
shape, viewed from the earth, resembled nothing so much as one of the

They made a good landing in a little forest glade, the craft, under
the skillful guidance of Mr. Sharp and Tom, coming down nicely.

"Now for a trip to town to notify the sheriff," said Mr. Sharp. "Tom,
I think you had better go alone. You can explain matters, and Mr.
Damon and I will remain here until you come back. I should say what
you had best do, would be to get the sheriff to help you locate the
gang of bank robbers. They're in this vicinity and he ought to be
able, with his deputies, to find them."

"I'll ask him," replied Tom, as he set off.

It was rather a lonely walk into the city, from the woods where the
airship had landed, but Tom did not mind it, and, reaching Shagmon, he
inquired his way to the home of the sheriff, for it was long after
office hours. He heard, as he walked along the streets, many persons
discussing the appearance of the airship that morning, and he was glad
they had planned to land after dark, for more than one citizen was
regretting that he had not had a chance to get the five thousand
dollars reward offered for the arrest of the passengers in the Red

Tom found the sheriff, Mr. Durkin by name, a genial personage. At the
mention of the airship the official grew somewhat excited.

"Are you one of the fellows that looted the bank?" he inquired, when
Tom told him how he and his friends had arrived at Shagmon.

The young inventor denied the impeachment, and told his story. He
ended up with a request for the sheriff's aid, at the same time asking
if the officer knew where such a gang as the Happy Harry one might be
in hiding.

"You've come just at the right time, young man," was the answer of
Sheriff Durkin, when he was assured of the honesty of Tom's
statements. "I've been on the point, for the last week, of raiding a
camp of men, who have settled at a disused summer resort about ten
miles from here. I think they're running a gambling game. But I
haven't been able to get any evidence, and every time I sent out a
posse some one warns the men, and we can find nothing wrong. I believe
these men are the very ones you want. If we could only get to them
without their suspecting it, I think I'd have them right."

"We can do that, Sheriff."


"Go in our airship! You come with us, and we'll put you right over
their camp, where you can drop down on their heads."

"Good land, I never rode in an automobile even, let alone an airship!"
went on the officer. "I'd be scared out of my wits, and so would my

"Send the deputies on ahead," suggested Tom.

The sheriff hesitated. Then he slapped his thigh with his big hand.

"By golly! I'll go you!" he declared. "I'll try capturing criminals in
an airship for the first, time in my life! Lead the way, young man!"

An hour later Sheriff Durkin was aboard the Red Cloud, and plans were
being talked of for the capture of the bank robbers, or at least for
raiding the camp where the men were supposed to be.

Chapter 23 - On To The Camp

"Well, you sure have got a fine craft here," remarked Sheriff Durkin,
as he looked over the airship after Tom and his friends had told of
their voyage. "It will be quite up-to-date to raid a gang of bank
robbers in a flying machine, but I guess it will be the only way we
can catch those fellows. Now I'll go back to town, and the first thing
in the morning I'll round-up my posse and start it off. The men can
surround the camp, and lay quiet until we arrive in this ship. Then,
when we descend on the heads of the scoundrels, right out of the sky,
so to speak, my men can close in, and bag them all."

"That's a good plan," commented Mr. Sharp, "but are you sure these are
the men we want? It's pretty vague, I think, but of course the clue
Tom got is pretty slim; merely the name Shagmon."

"Well, this is Shagmon," went on the sheriff, "and, as I told your
young friend, I've been trying for some time to bag the men at the
summer camp. They number quite a few, and if they don't do anything
worse, they run a gambling game there. I'm pretty sure, if the bank
robbers are in this vicinity, they're in that camp. Of course all the
men there may not have been engaged in looting the vault, and they may
not all know of it, but it won't do any harm to round-up the whole

After a tour of the craft, and waiting to take a little refreshment
with his new friends, the sheriff left, promising to come as early on
the morrow as possible.

"Let's go to bed," suggested Mr. Sharp, after a bit. "We've got hard
work ahead of us tomorrow."

They were up early, and, in the seclusion of the little glade in the
woods, Tom and Mr. Sharp went over every part of the airship.

The sheriff arrived about nine o'clock, and announced that he had
started off through the woods, to surround the camp, twenty-five men.

"They'll be there at noon," Mr. Durkin said, "and will close in when I
give the signal, which will be two shots fired. I heard just before I
came here that there are some new arrivals at the camp."

"Maybe those are the men I overheard talking in the office building,"
suggested Tom. "They probably came to get their share. Well, we must
swoop down on them before they have time to distribute the money."

"That's what!" agreed the county official. Mr. Durkin was even more
impressed by the airship in the daytime than he had been at night. He
examined every part, and when the time came to start, he was almost as
unconcerned as any of the three travelers who had covered many
hundreds of miles in the air.

"This is certainly great!" cried the sheriff, as the airship rose
swiftly under the influence of the powerful gas.

As the craft went higher and higher his enthusiasm grew. He was not
the least afraid, but then Sheriff Durkin was accounted a nervy
individual under all circumstances.

"Lay her a little off to the left," the officer advised Tom who was at
the steering wheel. "The main camp is right over there. How long
before we will reach it?"

"We can get there in about fifteen minutes, if we run at top speed,"
answered the lad, his hand on the switch that controlled the motor.
"Shall we?"

"No use burning up the air. Besides, my men have hardly had time to
surround the camp. It's in deep woods. If I were you I'd get right
over it, and then rise up out of sight so they can't see you. Then,
when it's noon you can go down, I'll fire the signal and the fun will
commence-that is, fun for us, but not so much for those chaps, I
fancy," and the sheriff smiled grimly.

The sheriff's plan was voted a good one, and, accordingly, the ship,
after nearing a spot about over the camp, was sent a mile or two into
the air, hovering as nearly as possible over one spot.

Shortly before twelve, the sheriff having seen to the weapons he
brought with him, gave the signal to descend. Down shot the Red Cloud
dropping swiftly when the gas was allowed to escape from the red
container, and also urged toward the earth by the deflected rudder.

"Are you all ready?" cried the sheriff, looking at his watch.

"All ready," replied Mr. Sharp.

"Then here goes," went on the officer, drawing his revolver, and
firing two shots in quick succession.

Two shots from the woods below answered him. Faster dropped the Red
Cloud toward the camp of the criminals.

Chapter 24 - The Raid

"Look for a good place to land!" cried Mr. Sharp to Tom. "Any small,
level place will do. Turn on the gas full power as soon as you feel
the first contact, and then shut it off so as to hold her down. Then
jump out and take a hand in the fight!"

"That's right," cried the sheriff. "Fight's the word! They're breaking
from cover now," he added, as he looked over the side of the cabin,
from one of the windows. "The rascals have taken the alarm!"

The airship was descending toward a little glade in the woods
surrounding the old picnic ground. Men, mostly of the tramp sort,
could be seen running to and fro.

"I hope my deputies close in promptly," murmured the sheriff. "There's
a bigger bunch there than I counted on."

>From the appearance of the gang rushing about it seemed as if there
were at least fifty of them. Some of the fellows caught sight of the
airship, and, with yells, pointed upward.

Nearer and nearer to the earth settled the Red Cloud. The criminals in
the camp were running wildly about. Several squads of them darted
through the woods, only to come hurriedly back, where they called to
their companions.

"Ha! My men are evidently on the job!" exclaimed the sheriff. "They
are turning the rascals back!"

Some of the gang were so alarmed at the sight of the great airship
settling down on their camp, that they could only stand and stare at
it. Others were gathering sticks and stones, as if for resistance, and
some could be seen to have weapons. Off to one side was a small hut,
rather better than the rest of the tumbledown shacks in which the
tramps lived. Tom noticed this, and saw several men gathered about it.
One seemed familiar to the lad. He called the attention of Mr. Damon to
the fellow.

"Do you know him?" asked Tom eagerly.

"Bless my very existence! If it isn't Anson Morse! One of the gang!"
cried the eccentric man.

"That's what I thought," agreed Tom. "The bank robbers are here," he
added, to the sheriff.

"If we only recover the money we'll be doing well," remarked Mr.

Suddenly there came a shout from the fringe of woods surrounding the
camp, and an instant later there burst from the bushes a number of

"My posse!" cried the sheriff. "We ought to be down now!"

The airship was a hundred feet above the ground, but Tom, opening
wider the gas outlet, sent the craft more quickly down. Then, just as
it touched the earth, he forced a mass of vapor into the container,
making the ship buoyant so as to reduce the shock.

An instant later the ship was stationary.

Out leaped the sheriff.

"Give it to'em, men!" he shouted.

With a yell his men responded, and fired a volley in the air.

"Come on, Tom!" called Mr. Sharp. "We'll make for the hut where you
saw Morse."

"I'll come too! I'll come too!" cried Mr. Damon, rushing along as fast
as he could, a seltzer bottle in either hand.

Tom's chief interest was to reach the men he suspected were the bank
robbers. The lad dashed through the woods toward the hut near which he
had seen Morse. He and Mr. Sharp reached it about the same time. As
they came in front of it out dashed Happy Harry, the tramp. He was
followed by Morse and the man named Featherton. The latter carried a
black valise.

"Hey! Drop that!" shouted Mr. Sharp.

"Drop nothing!" yelled the man.

"Go on! Go on!" urged Morse. "Take to the woods! We'll deal with these

"Oh, you will, eh?" shouted Tom, and remembering his football days he
made a dive between Morse and Happy Harry for the man with the bag,
which he guessed contained the stolen money. The lad made a good
tackle, and grabbed Featherton about the legs. He went down in a heap,
with Tom on top. Our hero was feeling about for the valise, when he
felt a stunning blow on the back of his head. He turned over quickly
to see Morse in the act of delivering a second kick. Tom grew faint,
and dimly saw the leader of the gang reach down for the valise.

This gave our hero sudden energy. He was not going to lose everything,
when it was just within his grasp. Conquering, by a strong effort, his
feeling of dizziness, he scrambled to his feet, and made a grab for
Morse. The latter fended him off, but Tom came savagely back at him,
all his fighting blood up. The effects of the cowardly blow were
passing off.

The lad managed to get one hand on the handle of the bag.

"Let go!" cried Morse, and he dealt Tom a blow in the face. It
staggered the youth, but he held on grimly, and raised his left hand
and arm as a guard. At the same time he endeavored to twist the valise
loose from Morse's hold. The man raised his foot to kick Tom, but at
that moment there was a curious hissing sound, and a stream of frothy
liquid shot over the lad's head right into the face of the man,
blinding him.

"Ha! Take that! And more of it!" shouted Mr. Damon, and a second
stream of seltzer squirted into the face of Morse.

With a yell of rage he let go his hold of the satchel, and Tom
staggered back with it. The lad saw Mr. Damon rushing toward the now
disabled leader, playing both bottles of seltzer on him. Then, when
all the liquid was gone the eccentric man began to beat Morse over the
head and shoulders with the heavy bottles until the scoundrel begged
for mercy.

Tom was congratulating himself on his success in getting the bag when
Happy Harry, the tramp, rushed at him.

"I guess I'll take that!" he roared, and, wheeling Tom around, at the
same time striking him full in the face, the ugly man made a grab for
the valise.

His hand had hardly touched it before he went down like a log, the
sound of a powerful blow causing Tom to look up. He saw Mr. Sharp
standing over the prostrate tramp, who had been cleanly knocked out.

"Are you all right, Tom?" asked the balloonist.

"Yes-trifle dizzy, that's all-I've got the money!"

"Are you sure?"

Tom opened the valise. A glance was enough to show that it was stuffed
with bills.

Happy Harry showed signs of coming to, and Mr. Sharp, with a few turns
of a rope he had brought along, soon secured him. Morse was too
exhausted to fight more, for the seltzer entering his mouth and nose,
had deprived him of breath, and he fell an easy prisoner to Mr. Damon.

Morse was soon tied up. The other members of the Happy Harry gang had

Meanwhile the sheriff and his men were having a fight with the crowd
of tramps, but as the posse was determined and the criminals mostly of
the class known as "hobos," the battle was not a very severe one.
Several of the sheriff's men were slightly injured, however, and a few
of the tramps escaped.

"A most successful raid," commented the sheriff, when quiet was
restored, and a number of prisoners were lined up, all tied securely.
"Did you get the money?"

"Almost all of it," answered Tom, who, now that Morse and Happy Harry
were securely tied, had busied himself, with the aid of Mr. Sharp and
Mr. Damon, in counting the bills. "Only about two thousand dollars are
missing. I think the bank will be glad enough to charge that to profit
and loss."

"I guess so," added the sheriff. "I'm certainly much obliged to you
for the use of your airship. Otherwise the raid wouldn't have been so
successful. Well, now we'll get the prisoners to jail."

It was necessary to hire rigs from nearby farmers to accomplish this.
As for Morse and Happy Harry, they were placed in the airship, and,
under guard of the sheriff and two deputies, were taken to the county
seat. The criminals were too dazed over the rough treatment they had
received, and over their sudden capture, to notice the fact of riding
through the air to jail.

"Now for home!" cried Tom, when the prisoners had been disposed of.
"Home to clear our names and take this money to the bank!"

"And receive the reward," added Mr. Sharp, with a smile. "Don't forget

"Oh, yes, and I'll see that you get a share too, Mr. Durkin," went on
Tom. "Only for your aid we never would have gotten these men and the

"Oh, I guess we're about even on that score," responded the official.
"I'm glad to break up that gang."

The next morning Tom and his friends started for home in the Red

They took with them evidence as to the guilt of the two men-Morse and
Happy Harry. The men confessed that they and their pals had robbed the
bank of Shopton, the night before Tom and his friends sailed on their
trip. In fact that was the object for which the gang hung around
Shopton. After securing their booty they had gone to the camp of the
tramps at Shagmon, where they hid, hoping they would not be traced.
But the words Tom had overheard had been their undoing. The men who
arrived at the camp just before the raid were the same ones the young
inventor heard talking in the office building. They had come to get
their share of the loot, which Morse held, and with which he tried so
desperately to get away. Tom's injuries were not serious and did not
bother him after being treated by a physician.

Chapter 25 - Andy Gets His Reward

Flying swiftly through the air the young inventor and his two
companions were soon within sight of Shopton. As they approached the
town from over the lake, and a patch of woods, they attracted no
attention until they were near home, and the craft settled down easily
in the yard of the Swift property.

That the aged inventor was glad to see his son back need not be said,
and Mrs. Baggert's welcome was scarcely less warm than that of Mr.
Swift. Mr. Sharp and Mr. Damon were also made to feel that their
friends were glad to see them safe again.

"We must go at once and see Mr. Pendergast, the bank president,"
declared Mr. Swift. "We must take the money to him, and demand that he
withdraw the offer of reward for your arrest."

"Yes," agreed Tom. "I guess the reward will go to some one besides
Andy Foger."

There was considerable surprise on the part of the bank clerks when
our hero, and his friends, walked in, carrying a heavy black bag. But
they could only conjecture what was in the wind, for the party was
immediately closeted with the president.

Mr. Pendergast was so startled that he hardly knew what to say when
Tom, aided by Mr. Sharp, told his story. But the return of the money,
with documents from Sheriff Durkin, certifying as to the arrest of
Morse and Happy Harry, soon convinced him of the truth of the account.

"It's the most wonderful thing I ever heard," said the president.

"Well, what are you going to do about it?" asked Mr. Damon. "You have
accused Tom and myself of being thieves, and-"

"I apologize-I apologize most humbly!" exclaimed Mr. Pendergast. "I

"What about the reward?" went on Mr. Damon. "Bless my bank notes, I
don't want any of it, for I have enough, but I think Tom and Mr. Sharp
and the sheriff are entitled to it."

"Certainly," said the president, "certainly. It will be paid at once.
I will call a meeting of the directors. In fact they are all in the
bank now, save Mr. Foger, and I can reach him by telephone. If you
will just rest yourselves in that room there I will summon you before
the board, when it convenes, and be most happy to pay over the five
thousand dollars reward. It is the most wonderful thing I ever heard
of-most wonderful!"

In a room adjoining that of the president, Tom, his father and Mr.
Damon waited for the directors to meet. Mr. Foger could be heard
entering a little later.

"What's this I hear, Pendergast?" he cried, rubbing his hands. "The
bank robbers captured, eh? Well, that's good news. Of course we'll pay
the reward. I always knew my boy was a smart lad. Five thousand
dollars will be a tidy sum for him. Of course his chum, Sam Snedecker
is entitled to some, but not much. So they've caught Tom Swift and
that rascally Damon, eh? I always knew he was a scoundrel! Putting
money in here as a blind!"

Mr. Damon heard, and shook his fist.

"I'll make him suffer for that," he whispered.

"Tom Swift arrested, eh?" went on Mr. Foger. "I always knew he was a
bad egg. Who caught them? Where are they?"

"In the next room," replied Mr. Pendergast, who loved a joke almost as
well as did Tom. "They may come out now," added the president, opening
the door, and sending Ned Newton in to summon Tom, Mr. Swift and Mr.
Damon, who filed out before the board of directors.

"Gentlemen," began the president, "I have the pleasure of presenting
to you Mr. Thomas Swift, Mr. Barton Swift and Mr. Wakefield Damon. I
also have the honor to announce that Mr. Thomas Swift and Mr. Damon
have been instrumental in capturing the burglars who recently robbed
our bank, and I am happy to add that young Mr. Swift and Mr. Wakefeld
Damon have, this morning, brought to me all but a small part of the
money stolen from us. Which money they succeeded, after a desperate
fight "

"A fight partly with seltzer bottles," interrupted Mr. Damon proudly.
"Don't forget them."

"Partly with seltzer bottles," conceded the president with a smile.
"After a fight they succeeded in getting the money back. Here it is,
and I now suggest that we pay the reward we promised."

"What? Reward? Pay them? The money back? Isn't my son to receive the
five thousand dollars for informing as to the identity of the thief-
isn't he?" demanded Mr. Foger, almost suffocating from his
astonishment at the unexpected announcement.

"Hardly," answered Mr. Pendergast dryly. "Your son's information
happened to be very wrong. The tools he saw Tom have in the bag were
airship tools, not burglar's. And the same gang that once robbed Mr.
Swift robbed our, bank. Tom Swift captured them, and is entitled to
the reward. It will be necessary for us directors to make up the sum,
personally, and I, for one, am very glad to do so."

"So am I," came in a chorus from the others seated at the table.

"But-er-I understood that my son-" stammered Mr. Foger, who did not at
all relish having to see his son lose the reward.

"It was all a mistake about your son," commented Mr. Pendergast.
"Gentlemen, is it your desire that I write out a check for young Mr.

They all voted in the affirmative, even Mr. Foger being obliged to do
so, much against his wishes. He was a very much chagrined man, when
the directors' meeting broke up. Word was sent at once, by telegraph,
to all the cities where reward posters had been displayed, recalling
the offer, and stating that Tom Swift and Mr. Damon were cleared. Mr.
Sharp had never been really accused.

"Well, let's go home," suggested Tom when he had the five-thousand-
dollar check in his pocket.

"I want another ride in the Red Cloud as soon as it's repaired."

"So do I!" declared Mr. Damon.

The eccentric man and Mr. Swift walked on ahead, and Tom strolled down
toward the dock, for he thought he would take a short trip in his

He was near the lake, not having met many persons, when he saw a
figure running up from the water. He knew who it was in an instant
Andy Foger. As for the bully, at the sight of Tom he hesitated, than
came boldly on. Evidently he had not heard of our hero's arrival.

"Ha!" exclaimed the red-haired lad, "I've been looking for you. The
police want you, Tom Swift."

"Oh, do they?" asked the young inventor gently.

"Yes; for robbery. I'm going to get the reward, too. You thought you
were smart, but I saw those burglar tools in your valise. I sent the
police after you. So you've come back, eh? I'm going to tell Chief
Simonson. You wait."

"Yes," answered Tom, "I'll wait. So the police want me, do they?"

"That's what they do," snarled Andy. "I told you I'd get even with
you, and I've done it."

"Well," burst out Tom, unable to longer contain himself, as he thought
of all he had suffered at the hands of the red-haired bully, "I said
I'd get even with you, but I haven't done it yet. I'm going to now.
Take off your coat, Andy. You and I are going to have a little

"Don't you dare lay a finger on me!" blustered the squint-eyed one.

Tom peeled off his coat. Andy, who saw that he could not escape,
rushed forward, and dealt the young inventor a blow on the chest. That
was all Tom wanted, and the next instant he went at Andy hammer and
tongs. The bully tried to fight, but he had no chance with his
antagonist, who was righteously angry, and who made every blow tell.
It was a sorry-looking Andy Foger who begged for mercy a little later.

Tom had no desire to administer more than a deserved reward to the
bully, but perhaps he did add a little for interest. At any rate Andy
thought so.

"You just wait!" he cried, as he limped off. "I'll make you sorry for

"Oh, don't go to any trouble on my account," said Tom gently, as he
put on his coat. But Andy did go to considerable trouble to be
revenged on the young inventor, and whether be succeeded or not you
may learn by reading the fourth book of this series, to be called "Tom
Swift and His Submarine Boat; or, Under the Ocean for Sunken
Treasure," in which I shall relate the particulars of a voyage that
was marvelous in the extreme.

Tom reached home in a very pleasant frame of mind that afternoon.
Things had turned out much better than he thought they would. A few
weeks later the two bank robbers, who were found guilty, were
sentenced to long terms, but their companions were not captured. Tom
sent Sheriff Durkin a share of the reward, and the lad invested his
own share in bank stock, after giving some to Mr. Sharp. Mr. Damon
refused to accept any. As for Mr. Swift, once he saw matters
straightened out, and his son safe, he resumed his work on his prize
submarine boat, his son helping him.

As for Tom, he alternated his spare time between trips in the airship
and his motor-boat, and frequently a certain young lady from the
Rocksmond Seminary was his companion. I think you know her name by
this time. Now, for a while, we will take leave of Tom Swift and his
friends, trusting to meet them again.

Book of the day: