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Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle by Victor Appleton

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"Come in!" called Tom, as he turned on the electric lights in the
airship. "Come in and tell us all about it. But how did you get

"Maybe there are two Tombas," suggested Ned.

"Bless my safety razor!" cried Mr. Damon "perhaps Ned is right!"

But he wasn't, as they learned when they had questioned the African,
who came inside the airship, looking wonderingly around at the many
strange things he saw. He was the same Tomba who had escaped the
massacre, and had taken news of the capture of his master and
mistress to the white settlement. In vain after that he had tried to
organize a band to go back with him to the rescue, but the whites in
the settlement were too few, and the natives too timid. Then Tomba,
with grief in his heart, and not wanting to live while the
missionaries whom he had come to care for very much, were captives,
he went back into the jungle, determined, if he could not help them,
that at least he would share their fate, and endeavor to be of some
service to them in their captivity.

After almost unbelievable hardships, he had found the red pygmies,
and had allowed himself to be captured by them. They rejoiced
greatly in the possession of the big black man, and for some strange
reason had not killed him. He was allowed to share the captivity of
his master and mistress.

Time went on, and the pygmies did not kill their prisoners. They
even treated them with some kindness but were going to sacrifice
them at their great annual festival, which was soon to take place.
Mr. and Mrs. Illingway, Tomba told our friends in his broken
English, had urged him to escape at the first opportunity. They knew
if he could get away he would travel through the jungle. They could
not, even if they had not been so closely guarded that escape was
out of the question.

But Tomba refused to go until Mr. Illingway had said that perhaps he
might get word to some white hunters, and so send help to the
captives. This Tomba consented to do, and, watching his chance, he
did escape. That was several nights ago, and he had been traveling
through the jungle ever since. It was by mere accident that he came
upon the anchored airship, and his curiosity led him to board her.
The rest is known.

"Well, of all queer yarns, this is the limit!" exclaimed Tom, when
the black had finished. "What had we better do about it?"

"Get ready to attack the red pygmies at once!" decided Mr. Durban.
"If we wait any longer it may be too late!"

"My idea, exactly," declared Mr. Anderson.

"Bless my bowie-knife!" cried Mr. Damon. "It'd like to get a chance
at the red imps! Come on, Tom! Let's start at once."

"No, we need daylight to fight by," replied Tom, with a smile at his
friend's enthusiasm. "We'll go forward in the morning."

"In the airship?" asked Mr. Damon.

"I think so," answered Tom. "There can be no advantage now in trying
to conceal ourselves. We can move upon them from where we are so
quickly that they won't have much chance to get away. Besides it
will take us too long to make our way through the jungle afoot. For,
now that the escape of Tomba must be known, they may kill the
captives at once to forestall any rescue."

"Then we'll move forward in the morning," declared Mr. Durban.

They took Tomba with them in the airship the next day, though he
prayed fervently before he consented to it. But they needed him to
point out the exact location of the pygmies' village, since it was
not the one the hunter-scout had been near.

The Black Hawk sailed through the air. On board eager eyes looked
down for a first sight of the red imps. Tomba, who was at Tom's side
in the steering tower, told him, as best he could, from time to
time, how to set the rudders.

"Pretty soon by-em-by be there," said the black man at length. "Pass
ober dat hill, den red devils live."

"Well, we'll soon be over that hill," announced Tom grimly. "I guess
we'd better get our rifles ready for the battle."

"Are you going to attack them at once?" asked Mr. Damon.

"Well," answered the young inventor, "I don't believe we ought to
kill any of them if we can avoid it. I don't like to do such a thing
but, perhaps we can't help ourselves. My plan is to take the airship
down, close to the hut where the missionaries are confined. Tomba
can point it out to us. If we can rescue them without bloodshed, so
much the better. But we'll fight if we have to."

Grimly they watched as the airship sailed over the hill. Then
suddenly there came into view a collection of mud huts on a vast
plain, surrounded by dense jungle on every side. As the travelers
looked, they could see little creatures running wildly about. Even
without a glass it could be noted that their bodies were covered
with a curious growth of thick sandy hair.

"The red pygmies!" cried Tom. "Now for the rescue!"

Eagerly Tomba indicated the hut where his master and mistress were
held. Telling his friends to have their weapons in readiness, Tom
steered the airship toward the rude shelter whence he hoped to take
the missionaries. Down to the ground swiftly shot the Black Hawk.
Tom checked her with a quick movement of the deflecting rudder, and
she landed gently on the wheels.

"Mr. Illingway! Mrs. Illingway! We have come to rescue you!" yelled
the young inventor, as he stepped out on the deck, with his electric
rifle in his hand. "Where are you? Can you come out?"

The door of the hut was burst open, and a white man and woman,
recognizable as such, even in the rude skins that clothed them,
rushed out. Wonder spread over their faces as they saw the great
airship. They dropped on their knees.

The next instant a swarm of savage little red men surrounded them,
and rudely bore them, strugglingly, back into the hut.

"Come on!" cried Tom, about to leap to the ground. "It's now or
never! We must save them!"

Mr. Durban pulled him back, and pointed to a horde of the red-haired
savages rushing toward the airship. "They'd tear you to pieces in a
minute!" cried the old hunter. "We must fight them from the ship."

There was a curious whistling sound in the air. Mr. Durban looked

"Duck, everybody!" he yelled. "They're firing arrows at us! Get
under shelter, for they may be poisoned!"

Tom and the others darted into the craft. The arrows rattled on deck
in a shower, and hundreds of the red imps were rushing up to give
battle. Inside the hut where the missionaries were, it was now
quiet. Tom Swift wondered if they still lived.

"Give 'em as good as they send!" cried Mr. Durban. "We will have to
fire at them now. Open up with your electric rifle, Tom!"

As he spoke the elephant hunter fired into the midst of the
screaming savages. The battle had begun.



What the travelers had heard regarding the fierceness and courage of
the red pygmies had not been one bit exaggerated. Never had such
desperate fighting ever taken place. The red dwarfs, scarcely one of
whom was more than three feet high, were strongly built, and there
were so many of them, and they battled together with such singleness
of purpose, that they were more formidable than a tribe of ordinary-
sized savages would have been.

And their purpose was to utterly annihilate the enemy that had so
unexpectedly come upon them. It did not matter to them that Tom and
the others had arrived in an airship. The strange craft had no
superstitious terror for them, as it had for the simpler blacks.

"Bless my multiplication tables!" cried Mr. Damon. "What a mob of

"Almost too many!" murmured Tom Swift, who was rapidly firing his
electric rifle at them. "We can never hope to drive them back, I'm

Indeed from every side of the plain, and even from the depths of the
jungle the red dwarfs were now pouring. They yelled most horribly,
screaming in rage, brandishing their spears and clubs, and keeping
up an incessant fire of big arrows from their bows, and smaller ones
from the blowguns.

As yet none of our friends had been hit, for they were sheltered in
the airship, and as the windows were covered with a mesh of wire, to
keep out insects, this also served to prevent the arrows from
entering. There were loopholes purposely made to allow the rifles to
be thrust out.

Mercifully, Tom and the others fired only to disable, and not to
kill the red pygmies. Wounded in the arms or legs, the little
savages would be incapable of fighting, and this plan was followed.
But so fierce were they that some, who were wounded twice, still
kept up the attack.

Tom's electric rifle was well adapted for this work, as he could
regulate the charge to merely stun, no matter at what part of the
body it was directed. So he could fire indiscriminintly, whereas the
others had to aim carefully. And Tom's fire was most effective. He
disabled scores of the red imps, but scores of others sprang up to
take their places.

After their first rush the pygmies had fallen back before the well-
directed fire of our friends, but as their chiefs and head men urged
them to the attack again, they came back with still fiercer energy.
Some, more bold than the others, even leaped to the deck of the
airship, and tried to tear the screens from the windows. They partly
succeeded, and in one casement from which Ned was firing they made a

Into this they shot a flight of arrows, and one slightly wounded the
bank clerk on the arm. The wound was at once treated with
antiseptics, after the window had been barricaded, and Ned declared
that he was ready to renew the fight. Tom, too, got an arrow scratch
on the neck, and one of the barbs entered Mr. Durban's leg, but the
sturdy elephant hunter would not give up, and took his place again
after the wound had been bandaged.

From time to time as he worked his electric gun, which had been
charged to its utmost capacity, Tom glanced at the hut where the
missionaries were prisoners. There was no movement noticed about it,
and no sound came from it. Tom wondered what had happened inside--he
wondered what was happening as the battle progressed.

Fiercely the fight was kept up. Now the red imps would be driven
back, and again they would swarm about the airship, until it seemed
as if they must overwhelm it. Then the fire of the white adventurers
was redoubled. The electric rifle did great work, and Tom did not
have to stop and refill the magazine, as did the others.

Suddenly, above the noise of the conflict, Tom Swift heard an
ominous sound. It was a hissing in the air, and well he knew what it

"The gas bag!" he cried. "They've punctured it! The vapor is
escaping. If they put too many holes in the bag it will be all up
with us!"

"What's to be done?" asked Mr. Durban.

"If we can't drive them back we must retreat ourselves!" declared
Tom desperately. "Our only hope is to keep the airship safe from

Once more came a rush of the savages. They had discovered that the
gas bag was vulnerable, and were directing their arrows against
that. It was punctured in several more places. The gas was rapidly

"We've got to retreat!" yelled Tom. He hurried to the engine-room,
and turned on the power. The great propellers revolved, and sent the
Black Hawk scudding across the level plain. With yells of surprise
the red dwarfs scattered arid made way for it.

Up into the air it mounted on the broad wings. For the time being
our friends has been driven back, and the missionaries whom they had
come to rescue were still in the hands of the savages.



"Well, what's to be done?"

Tom Swift asked that question.

"Bless my percussion cap! They certainly are the very worst imps for
fighting that I ever heard of," commented Mr. Damon helplessly.

"Is the gas bag much punctured?" asked Ned Newton.

"Wait a minute," resumed the young inventor, as he pulled the speed
lever a trifle farther over, thereby sending the craft forward more
swiftly, "I think my question ought to be answered first. What's to
be done? Are we going to run away, and leave that man and woman to
their fate?"

"Of course not!" declared Mr. Durban stoutly, "but we couldn't stay
there, and have them destroy the airship."

"No, that's so," admitted Tom, "if we lost the airship it would be
all up with us and our chances of rescuing the missionaries. But
what can we do? I hate to retreat!"

"But what else is there left for us?" demanded Ned.

"Nothing, of course. But we've got to plan to get the best of those
red pygmies. We can't go back in the airship, and give them open
battle. There are too many of them, and, by Jove! I believe more are
coming every minute!"

Tom and the others looked down. From all sides of the plain,
hastening toward the village of mud huts, from which our friends
were retreating, could be seen swarms of the small but fierce
savages. They were coming from the jungle, and were armed with war
clubs, bows and arrows and the small but formidable blowguns.

"Where are they coming from?" asked Mr. Damon.

"From the surrounding tribes," explained Mr. Durban. "They have been
summoned to do battle against us."

"But how did the ones we fought get word to the others so soon?" Ned

"Oh, they have ways of signaling," explained Mr. Anderson. "They can
make the notes of some of their hollow-tree drums carry a long
distance, and then they are very swift runners, and can penetrate
into the jungle along paths that a white man would hardly see. They
also use the smoke column as a signal, as our own American Indians
used to do. Oh, they can summon all their tribesmen to the fight,
and they probably will. Likely the sound of our guns attracted the
imps, though if we all had electric rifles like Tom's they wouldn't
make any noise."

"Well, my rifle didn't appear to do so very much good this tune,"
observed the young inventor, as he stopped the forward motion of the
ship now, and let it hover over the plain in sight of the village,
the gas bag serving to sustain the craft, and there was little wind
to cause it to drift. "Those fellows didn't seem to mind being hurt
and killed any more than if mosquitoes were biting them."

"The trouble is we need a whole army, armed with electric rifles to
make a successful attack," said Mr. Durban. "There are swarms of
them there now, and more coming every minute. I do hope Mr. and Mrs.
Illingway are alive yet."

"Yes," added Mr. Anderson solemnly, "we must hope for the best. But,
like Tom Swift, I ask, what's to be done?"

"Bless my thinking cap!" exclaimed Mr. Damon. "It seems to me if we
can't fight them openly in the daytime, there's only one other thing
to do."

"What's that?" asked Tom. "Go away? I'll not do it!"

"No, not go away," exclaimed Mr. Damon, "but make a night attack. We
ought to be able to do something then, and with your illuminating
rifle, Tom, we'd have an advantage! What do you say?"

"I say it's the very thing!" declared Tom, with sudden enthusiasm.
"We'll attack them to-night, when they're off their guard, and we'll
see if we can't get the missionaries out of that hut. And to better
fool the savages, we'll just disappear now, and make 'em believe
we've flown away."

"Then the missionaries will think we're deserting them," objected
Mr. Anderson.

But there was no help for it, and so Tom once more turned on the
power and the craft sailed away.

Tomba, the faithful black, begged to be allowed to go down, and tell
his master and mistress that help would soon be at hand again, even
though it looked like a retreat on the part of the rescuers, but
this could not he permitted.

"They'd tear you in pieces as soon as you got among those red imps,"
said Tom. "You stay here, Tomba, and you can help us to-night."

"A'right, me glad help lick red fellows," said the black, with as
cheerful a grin as he could summon.

The Black Hawk circled around, with Tom and the others looking for a
good place to land. They were out of sight of the village now but
did not doubt but that they were observed by the keen eyes of the
little men.

"We want to pick out a place where they won't come upon us as we
descend," declared Tom. "We've got to mend some leaks in the gas
bag, for, while they are not serious, if we get any more punctures
they may become so. So we've got to pick out a good place to go

Finally, by means of powerful glasses, a desolate part of the jungle
was selected. No files of the red dwarfs, coming from their
scattered villages to join their tribesmen, had been noted in the
vicinity picked out, and it was hoped that it would answer. Slowly
the airship settled to earth, coming to rest in a thick grove of
trees, where there was an opening just large enough to allow the
Black Hawk to enter.

Our friends were soon busy repairing the leaks in the bag, while Mr.
Damon got a meal ready. As they ate they talked over plans for the
night attack.

It was decided to wait until it was about two o'clock in the
morning, as at that hour the dwarfs were most generally asleep,
Tomba said. They always stayed up quite late, sitting around camp-
fires, and eating the meat which the hunters brought in each day.
But their carousings generally ended at midnight, the black said,
and then they fell into a heavy sleep. They did not post guards, but
since they knew of the presence of the white men in the airship,
they might do it this time.

"Well, we've got to take our chance," decided Tom. "We'll start off
from here about one o'clock, and I'll send the ship slowly along.
We'll get right over the hut where the captives are, if possible,
and then descend. I'll manage the ship, and one of you can work the
electric rifle if they attack us. We'll make a dash, get Mr. and
Mrs. Illingway from the hut, and make a quick get-away."

It sounded good, and they were impatient to put it into operation.
That afternoon Tom and his friends went carefully over every inch of
their craft, to repair it and have it in perfect working order. Guns
were cleaned, and plenty of ammunition laid out. Then, shortly after
one o'clock in the morning the ship was sent up, and with the
searchlight ready to be turned on instantly, and with his electric
rifle near at hand, Tom Swift guided his craft on to the attack.
Soon they could see the glow of dying fires in the dwarfs' village,
but no sound came from the sleeping hordes of red imps.



"Can you make out the hut, Tom?" asked Ned, as he stood at his
chum's side in the steering tower, and gazed downward on the silent

"Not very clearly. Suppose you take a look through the night-
glasses. Maybe you'll have better luck."

Ned peered long and earnestly.

"No, I can't see a thing." he said. "It all looks to be a confused
jumble of huts. I can't tell one from the other. We'll have to go

"I don't want to do that," objected Tom. "If this attack succeeds at
all, it will have to be sharp and quick. If we go down where they
can spot us, and work our way up to the hut where the captives are,
we'll run the chance of an attack that may put us out of business."

"Yes, we ought to get right over the hut, and then make a sudden
swoop down," admitted Ned, "but if we can't see it--"

"I have it!" cried Tom suddenly. "Tomba! That African can see in the
dark like a cat. Why, just before we started I dropped a wrench, and
I didn't have any matches handy to look for it. I was groping around
in the dark trying to get my hands on it, and you know it was pretty
black in the jungle. Well, along come Tomba. and he spotted it at
once and picked it up. We'll call him here and get him to point out
the hut. He can tell me how to steer."

"Good!" cried Ned, and the black was soon standing in the pilot
house. He comprehended what was wanted of him, and peered down,
seeking to penetrate the darkness.

"Shall I go down a little lower?" asked Tom.

For a moment Tomba did not answer. Then be uttered an exclamation of

"Me see hut!" he said, clutching Tom's arm. "Down dere!" He pointed,
but neither Tom nor Ned could see it. However, as Tomba was now
giving directions, telling Tom when to go to the left or the right,
as the wind currents deflected they were certain of soon reaching
the place where Mr. and Mrs. Illingway were concealed, if they were
still alive.

The Black Hawk was moving slowly, and was not under as good control
as if she had been making ninety miles an hour. As it was desired to
proceed as quietly as possible, the craft was being used as a
dirigible balloon, and the propellers were whirled around by means
of a small motor, worked by a storage battery. While not much power
was obtained this way, there was the advantage of silence, which was
very necessary. Slowly the Black Hawk sailed on through the night.
In silence the adventurers waited for the moment of action. They had
their weapons in readiness. Mr. Durban was to work the electric
rifle, as all Tom's attention would be needed at the machinery. As
soon as the craft had made a landing he was to leap out, carrying a
revolver in either hand, and, followed by Tomba, would endeavor to
gain entrance to the hut, break through the flimsy grass-woven
curtain over the doorway, and get Mr. and Mrs. Illingway out. Ned,
Mr. Damon and the other two men would stand by to fire on the red
pygmies as soon as they commenced the attack, which they would
undoubtedly do as soon as the guards of the captives raised the

The airship was in darkness, for it would have been dangerous to
show a light. Some wakeful dwarf might see the moving illumination
in the sky, and raise a cry.

"Mos' dere," announced Tomba at length. And then, for the first
time, Ned and Tom had a glimpse of the hut. It stood away from the
others, and was easy to pick out in daylight, but even the darkness
offered no handicap to Tomba. "Right over him now," he suddenly
called, as he leaned out of the pilot house window, and looked down.
"Right over place. Oh, Tomba glad when he see Missy an' Massy!"

"Yes, I hope you do see them," murmured Tom, as he pulled the lever
which would pump the gas from the inflated bag, and compress it into
tanks, until it was needed again to make the ship rise. Slowly the
Black Hawk sank down.

"Get ready!" called Tom in a low voice.

It was a tense moment. Every one of the adventurers felt it, and all
but Tom grasped their weapons with tighter grips. They were ready to
spring out as soon as a landing was made. Tom managed the machinery
in the dark, for he knew every wheel, gear and lever, and could have
put his hand on any one with his eyes shut. The two loaded revolvers
were on a shelf in front of him. The side door of the pilot house
was ajar, to allow him quick egress.

Tomba, armed with a big club he had picked up in the jungle, was
ready to follow. The black was eager for the fray to begin, though
how he and the others would fare amid the savages was hard to say.

Still not a sound broke the quiet. It was very dark, for nearly all
the camp fires, over which the nightly feast had been prepared, were
out. The hut could be dimly made out, however.

Suddenly there was a slight tremor through the ship. She seemed to
shiver, and bound upward a little.

"We've landed!" whispered Tom. "Now for it! Come on, Tomba!"

The big black glided after the lad like a shadow. With his two
weapons held in readiness our hero went out on deck. The others,
with cocked rifles, stood ready for the attack to open. It had been
decided that as soon as the first alarm was given by the dwarfs,
which would probably be when Tom broke into the hut, the firing
would begin.

"Open!" called Tom to Tomba, and the big black dashed his club
through the grass curtain over the doorway of the hut. He fairly
leaped inside, with a cry of battle on his lips.

"Mr. Illingway! Mrs. Illingway!" called Tom, "We've come to save
you. Hurry out. The airship is just outside!"

He fired one shot through the roof of the hut, so that the flash
would reveal to him whether or not the two missionaries were in the
place. He saw two forms rise up in front of him, and knew that they
were the white captives he had observed daring the former attack.

"Oh, what is it?" he heard the woman ask.

"A rescue! Thank the dear Lord!" answered her husband fervently.
"Oh, whoever you are, God bless you!"

"Come quickly!" cried Tom, "we haven't a moment to lose!"

He was speaking to absolute blackness now, for it was darker
immediately following the revolver flash than before. But he felt a
man's hand thrust about his arm, and he knew it was Mr. Illingway.

"Take your wife's hand, and follow me," ordered Tom. "Come, Tomba!
Are there any of the red pygmies in here?"

He had not seen any at the weapon's flash, but his question was
answered a moment later, for there arose from within and without the
hut a chorus of wild yells. At the same time Tom felt small arms
grasp him about the legs.

"Come on!" he yelled. "They're awake and after us!"

The din outside increased. Tom heard the rifles of his friends
crack. He saw, through the torn door curtain, the flashes of fire.
Then came a blue glare, and Tom knew that Mr. Durban was using the
electric weapon.

By these intermittent gleams Tom managed to see sufficiently to
thrust Mr. and Mrs. Illingway ahead of him. Tomba was at their side.
The yells inside the hut were almost deafening. All the red dwarfs
left to guard the captives had awakened, and they could see well
enough to attack Tom. Fortunately they had no weapons, but they
fairly threw themselves upon the sturdy lad, trying to pull him

"Go on! Go on!" he yelled to the captives, fairly pushing them
along. Then, knowing they were out of the way, he turned and fired
his two revolvers as fast as he could pull the triggers, into the
very faces of the red imps who were seeking to drag him down. Again
and again he fired, until he had emptied both cylinders of his

He felt the grasps of the fiendish little men relax one by one. Tom
finally dragged himself loose, and staggered out of the hut. The
captives and Tomba were right in front of him. At the airship, which
loomed up in the flashes from the guns and electric rifle, Tom's
friends were giving battle. About them swarmed the hordes of
savages, with more of the imps pouring in every moment.

"Get aboard!" cried Tom to the missionaries. "Get on the airship,
and we'll move out of this!"

He felt a stinging pain in his neck, where an arrow struck him. He
tore the arrow out, and rushed forward. Fairly pushing Mr. and Mrs.
Illingway up on deck before him, Tom followed. Tomba was capering
about his master and mistress, and he swung his big club savagely.
He had not been idle, and many a red imp had gone down under his

"Rescued! Rescued!" murmured Mr. Illingway, as Tom hastened to the
pilot house to start the motor.



But the rescue was not yet accomplished. Those on the airship were
still in danger, and grave peril, for all about them were the red
savages, shouting, howling, yelling and capering about, as they were
now thoroughly aroused, and realized that their captives had been
taken away from them. They determined to get them back, and were
rallying desperately to battle. Nearly all of them were armed by
this time, and flight after flight of spears and arrows were thrown
or shot toward the airship.

Fortunately it was too dark to enable the pygmies to take good aim.
They were guided, to an extent, by the flashes of fire from the
rifles, but these were only momentary. Still some of our friends
received slight wounds, for they stood on the open deck of the

"Bless my eye-glasses!" suddenly exclaimed Mr. Damon. "I'm stuck!"

"Don't mind that!" advised Ned. "Keep on pouring lead into them.
We'll soon be away from here!"

"Don't fire any more!" called Mr. Durban. "The gun-flashes tell them
where to shoot. I'll use the electric rifle. It's better."

They followed his advice, and put aside their weapons. By means of
the electric flash, which he projected into the midst of the
savages, without the glare coming on the airship, Mr. Durban was
able to tell where to aim. Once he had a mass of red pygmies
located, he could keep on shooting charge after charge into their

"Use it full power!" called Tom, as he opened the gas machine to its
widest capacity, so the bag would quickly fill, and the craft be
sent forward, for it was so dark, and the ground near the huts so
uneven, that the Black Hawk could not rise as an aeroplane.

The elephant hunter turned on full strength in the electric gun and
the wireless bullets were sent into the midst of the attackers. The
result was surprising. They were so closely packed together that
when one was hit the electrical shock was sent through his nearly
naked body into the naked bodies of his tribesmen who pressed on
every side of him. In consequence whole rows of the savages went
down at a time, disabled from fighting any more.

Meanwhile Tom was working frantically to hasten the rising of the
airship. His neck pained him very much where the arrow had struck
him, but he dared not stop now to dress the wound. He could feel the
blood running down his side, but he shut his teeth grimly and said

The two missionaries, scarcely able to believe that they were to be
saved, had been shown into an inner cabin by Tomba, who had become
somewhat used to the airship by this time, and who could find his
way about well in the dark, for no lights had yet been turned on.

Hundreds of pygmies had been disabled, yet still others came to take
their places. The gas bag was again punctured in several places, but
the rents were small, and Tom knew that he could make the gas faster
than it could escape, unless the bag was ripped open.

"They're climbing up the sides!" suddenly called Ned Newton, for he
saw several of the little men clambering up. "What shall we do?"

"Pound their fingers!" called Mr. Anderson. "Get clubs and whack
them!" It was good advice. Ned remembered on one occasion when he
and Tom were looking at Andy Foger's airship, how this method had
been proposed when the bank clerk hung on the back fence. As he
grabbed up a stick, and proceeded to pound the hands and bare arms
of the savages who were clinging to the railing, Ned found himself
wondering what had become of the bully. He was to see Andy sooner
than he expected.

Suddenly in the midst of the fighting, which was now a hand-to-hand
conflict, there was a tremor throughout the length of the airship.

"She's going up!" yelled Ned.

"Bless my check-book!" cried Mr. Damon, "if we don't look out some
of these red imps will go up with us, too!"

As he spoke he whacked vigorously at the hands of several of the
pygmies, who dropped off with howls of anguish.

The craft quickly shot upward. There were yells of terror from a few
of the red savages who remained clinging to different parts of the
Black Hawk and then, fearing they might be taken to the clouds,
they, too, dropped off. The rescuers and rescued mounted higher and
higher, and, when they were far enough up so that there was no
danger from the spears or arrows, Tom switched on the lights, and
turned the electric current into the search-lantern, the rays of
which beamed down on the mass of yelling and baffled savages below.

"A few shots for them to remember us by!" cried Mr. Durban, as he
sent more of the paralyzing electric currents into the red imps.
Their yell of rage had now turned to shouts of terror, for the
gleaming beam of light frightened them more than did the airship, or
the bullets of the white men. The red pygmies fled to their huts.

"I guess we gave them a lesson," remarked Tom, as he started the
propellers and sent the ship on through the night.

"Why, Tom! You're hurt!" cried Ned, who came into the pilot house at
that moment, and saw blood on his chum.

"Only a scratch," the young inventor declared.

"It's more than that," said Mr. Durban who looked at it a little
later. "It must be bound up, Tom."

And, while Ned steered the ship back to the jungle clearing whence
they had come to make the night attack, Tom's wound was dressed.

Meanwhile the two missionaries had been well taken care of. They
were given other garments, even some dresses being provided for Mrs.
Illingway, for when the voyage was begun Tom had considered the
possibility of having a woman on board, and had bought some ladies'
garments. Then, having cast down to earth the ill-smelling skins
which formed their clothes while captives, Mr. and Mrs. Illingway,
decently dressed, thanked Tom and the others over and over again.

"We had almost given up hope," said the lady, "when we saw them
drive you back after the first attack. Oh, it is wonderful to think
how you saved us, and in an airship!" and she and her husband began
their thanks over again.

A good meal was prepared by Mr. Damon, for the rescuers and rescued
ones were hungry, and since they had been held prisoners the two
missionaries had not been given very good food.

"Oh, it hardly seems possible that we are eating with white men
again," said Mr. Illingway, as he took a second cup of coffee,
"hardly possible!"

"And to see electric lights, instead of a camp-fire," added his
wife. "What a wonderful airship you have, Tom Swift."

"Yes, it's pretty good," he admitted. "It came in useful to-night,
all right."

They were now far enough from the savages, and the pygmies' fires,
which had been set aglow anew when the attack began, could no longer
be observed.

"We'll land at the place where we camped before," said Tom, who had
again assumed charge of the ship, "and in the morning we'll start
for civilization."

"No can get two other white men?" suddenly asked Tomba, who had been
sitting, gazing at his recovered master and mistress. "Fly-ship go
back, an' leave two white mans here?" the black asked.

"What in the world does he mean?" demanded Tom. "Of course we're not
going to leave any of our party behind!"

"Let me question him," suggested Mr. Illingway, and he began to talk
to the African in his own tongue. A rapid conversation followed, and
a look of amazement spread over the faces of the two missionaries,
as they listened.

"What is it?" asked Mr. Durban. "What does Tomba say?"

"Why the pygmies have two other white men in captivity," said Mr.
Illingway. "They were brought in yesterday, after you were driven
away. Two white men, or, rather a white man and a youth, according
to Tomba. They are held in one of the huts near where we were, but
tied so they couldn't escape in the confusion"

"How does Tomba know this?" asked Mr. Damon.

"He says," translated Mr. Illingway, after more questioning of the
black, "that he heard the red pygmies boasting of it after we had
escaped. Tomba says he heard them say that, though we were gone, and
could not be killed, or sacrificed, the other two captives would
meet that horrible fate."

"Two other white captives in the hands of the red imps!" murmured
Tom. "We must rescue them!"

"You're not going to turn back now, are you?" asked Mr. Durban.

"No, but I will as soon as I look the ship over. We'll come back to-
morrow. And we'll have to make a day attack or it will be too late
to save them. Two other white captives! I wonder who they can be."

There was a big surprise in store for Tom Swift.



Early the next day the airship was again afloat. The night, what
little of darkness remained after the rescue, had been spent in the
clearing in the dense jungle. Some slight repairs had been made to
the craft, and it was once more in readiness to be used in battle
against the relentless savages.

"We can't wait for darkness," declared Tom. "In the first place
there isn't time, and again, we don't know in what part of the
village the other captives are. We'll have to hunt around."

"And that means going right down into the midst of the imps and
fighting them hand to hand," said Ned.

"That's what it means," assented Tom grimly, "but I guess the powder
bombs will help some."

Before starting they had prepared a number of improvised bombs,
filled with powder, which could be set off by percussion. It was the
plan to drop these down from the airship, into the midst of the
savages. When the bomb struck the ground, or even on the bodies of
the red dwarfs, it would explode. It was hoped that these would so
dismay the little men that they would desert the village, and leave
the way clear for a search to be made for the other captives.

On rushed the Black Hawk. There was to be no concealment this time,
and Tom did not care how much noise the motors made. Accordingly he
turned on full seed.

It was not long before the big plain was again sighted. Everything
was in readiness, and the bombs were at hand to be dropped
overboard. Tom counted on the natives gathering together in great
masses as soon as they sighted the airship, and this would give him
the opportunity wanted.

But something different transpired. No sooner was the craft above
the village, than from all the huts came pouring out the little red
men. But they did not gather together--at least just then. They ran
about excitedly, and it could be seen that they were bringing from
the huts the rude household utensils in which they did their
primitive cooking. The women had their babies, and some, not so
encumbered, carried rolls of grass matting. The men had all their

"Bless my wagon wheel!" cried Mr. Damon. "What's going on?"

"It looks like moving day," suggested Ned Newton.

"That's just what it is!" declared Mr. Durban. "They are going to
migrate. Evidently they have had enough of us, and they're going to
get out of the neighborhood before we get a chance to do any more
damage. They're moving, but where are the white captives?"

He was answered a moment later, for a crowd of the dwarfs rushing to
a certain hut, came out leading two persons by means of bark ropes
tied about their necks. It was too far off to enable Tom or the
others to recognize them, but they could tell by the clothing that
they were white captives.

"We've got to save them!" exclaimed the young inventor.

"How?" asked Mr. Damon. And, indeed, it did seem a puzzle for, even
as Tom looked, the whole tribe of red imps took up the march into
the jungle, dragging the white persons with them. The captives
looked up, saw the airship, and made frantic motions for help. It
was too far off, yet, to hear their voices. But the distance was
lessening every moment, for Tom had speeded the motor to the highest

"What are you going to do?" demanded Ned.

"I'll show you," answered his chum. "Take some of those bombs, and
be ready to drop them overboard when I give the word."

"But we may kill those white people," objected Ned.

"Not the way I'm going to work it. You drop them when I give the

Tom steered the airship toward the head of the throng of blacks. The
captives were in the rear, and the van of the strange procession was
near the edge of the jungle now. Once the red dwarfs got into the
tangle of underbrush they could never be found, and their captives
would die a miserable death.

"We've got to stop them," murmured Tom. "Are you ready, Ned?"


"Then drop the bombs!"

Ned dropped them. A sharp explosion was heard, and the head of the
procession was blown apart and thrown into confusion. The throng

"Drop more!" cried Tom, sending the ship about in a circle, and
hovering it over the middle of the press of savages.

More of the deadly tombs exploded. The pygmies were running about
wildly. Tom, who was closely watching the rear of the cavalcade,
suddenly called out:

"Now's our chance! They've let their captives go, and are running
into the jungle. We must swoop down, and get the prisoners!"

It was no sooner said than the nose of the Black Hawk was pointed
downward. Onward it flew, the two captives wildly waving their hands
to the rescuers. There was no more danger from the red savages. They
had been thrown into panic and confusion, and wore rapidly
disappearing into the forest. The terrible weapons of the whites had
been too much for them.

"Quick! Get on board!" called Tom, as he brought the machinery to a
stop. The airship now rested on the ground, close to the former
captives. "Get in here!" shouted the young inventor. "They may
change their minds and come back."

The two white persons ran toward the Black Hawk. Then one of them--
the smaller--halted and cried out:

"Why, it's Tom Swift!"

Tom turned and glanced at the speaker. A look of astonishment spread
over his face.

"Andy Foger--here!" gasped Tom. "How in the world--?"

"I dink besser as ve git on der board, und dalk aftervard!"
exclaimed Andy's companion, who spoke with a strong German accent.
"I like not dose red little mans."

In another minute the two rescued ones were safe on Tom Swift's
airship, and it had arisen high enough to be out of all danger.

"How in the world did you ever get here?" asked Tom of the lad who
had so often been his enemy.

"I'll tell you soon," spoke Andy, "but first, Tom, I want to ask
your forgiveness for all I've done to you, and to thank you, from
the bottom of my heart, for saving us. I thought we were going to be
killed by those dwarfs; didn't you, Herr Landbacher?"

"Sure I did. But ve are all right now. Dis machine is efen besser as
mine vot vos lost. Is dere anyt'ing to eats, on board, if you vill
excuse me for being so bolt as to ask?"

"Plenty to eat," said Tom, laughing, "and while you eat you can tell
us your story. And as for you, Andy, I hope we'll be friends from
now on," and Tom held out his hand.

There was not much to tell that the reader has not already guessed.
Andy and the German, as has been explained, went abroad to give
airship flights. They were in the lower part of Egypt, and a sudden
gale drove them into Africa.

For a long time they sailed on, and then their fuel gave out, and
they had to descend into the jungle. They managed to fall in with
some friendly blacks, who treated them well. The airship was useless
without gasolene, and it was abandoned.

Andy and the German inventor were planning to walk to some white
settlement, when the tribe they were with was attacked by the red
dwarfs and vanquished. Andy and his friend were taken prisoners, and
carried to the very village where the missionaries were, just before
the latter's rescue.

Then came the fight, and the saving of Andy and the German, almost
at the last minute.

"Well, you certainly had nearly as many adventures as we did," said
Tom. "But I guess they're over now."

But they were not. For several days the airship sailed on over the
jungles without making a descent. Mr. and Mrs. Illingway wished to
be landed at a white settlement where they had other missionary
friends. Tom would go with them. This was done, and Tom and the
others spent some time in this place, receiving so many kinds of
thanks that they had to protest.

Andy and Herr Landbacher asked to be taken back to the coast, where
they could get a steamer to America. Andy was a very different lad
now, and not the bully of old.

"Well, hadn't we better be thinking of getting back home?" asked Tom
one day.

"Not until we get some more ivory," declared Mr. Durban. "I think
we'll have to have another elephant hunt."

They did, about a week later, and got some magnificent tusks. Tom's
electric rifle did great work, to the wonder of Andy and Mr.
Landbacher, who had never before seen such a curious weapon. They
also did some night hunting.

"But we haven't got that pair of extra large tusks that I want,"
said the old hunter, as he looked at the store of ivory accumulated
after the last hunt. "I want those, and then I'll be satisfied.
There is one section of the country that we have not touched as yet,
and I'd like to visit that."

"Then let's go," proposed Tom, so, good-bys having been said to the
missionaries, who sent greetings to their friends in America, and to
the church people who had arranged for their rescue, the airship was
once more sent to the deepest part of a certain jungle, where Mr.
Durban hoped to get what he wanted.

They had another big hunt, but none of the elephants had any
remarkable tusks, and the hunter was about to give up in despair,
and call the expedition over, when one afternoon, as they were
sailing along high enough to merely clear the tops of the trees, Tom
heard a great crashing down below.

"There's something there," he called to Mr. Durban. "Perhaps a small
herd of elephants. Shall we go down?"

Before Mr. Durban could answer there came into view, in a small
clearing, an elephant of such size, and with such an enormous pair
of tusks, that the young inventor and the old hunter could not
repress cries of astonishment.

"There's your beast!" said Tom. "I'll go down and you can pot him,"
and, as he spoke, Tom stopped the propellers, so that the ship hung
motionless in the air above where the gigantic brute was.

Suddenly, as though possessed by a fit of rage, the elephant rushed
at a good-sized tree and began butting it with his head. Then,
winding his trunk around it he pulled it up by the roots, and began
trampling on it out of a paroxysm of anger.

"A rogue elephant!" exclaimed Mr. Durban. "Don't go down if you
value your life, or the safety of the airship. If we attacked that
brute on the ground, we would be the hunted instead of the hunters.
That's a rogue elephant of the worst kind, and he's at the height of
his rage."

This was indeed so, for the beast was tearing about the clearing
like mad, breaking off trees, and uprooting them in sheer
vantonness. Tom knew what a "rogue" elephant was. It is a beazt that
goes away from the herd, and lives solitary and alone, attacking
every living thing that comes in his way. It is a species of
masness, a disease which attacks elephants and sometimes passes
away. More often the afflicted creature gives battle to everything
and every animal he meets until he is killed or carried off by his
malady. It was sueh an elephant that Tom now saw, and he realized
what the hunter said about attacking one, as he saw the brute's mad

"Well, if it's dangerous to attack him on the ground, we'll kill him
from up above," said the young inventor. "Here is the electric
rifle, Mr. Durban. I'll let you have the honor of getting those
tusks. My! But they're whoppers! Better use almost a full charge.
Don't take any chances on merely wounding him, and having him rush
off to the jungle."

"I won't," said the old hunter, and he adjusted the electric rifle
which Tom handed him.

As the great beast was tearing around, trumpeting shrilly and
breaking off trees Mr. Durban fired. The creature sank down,
instantly killed, and was out of his misery, for often it is great
pain which makes an otherwise peaceable elephant become a "rogue."

"He's done for," said Ned. "I guess you have the tusks you want now,
Mr. Durban."

"I think so," agreed the hunter, and when the airship was sent down,
and the ivory cut out, it was found that the tusks were even larger
than they had supposed. "It is a prize worth having," said Mr.
Durban. "I'm sure my customer will think so, too. Now I'm ready to
head for the coast."

Tom Swift went to the engine room, while the last big tusks were
being stored away with the other ivory. Several parts of the motor
needed oiling, and Ned was assisting in this work.

"Going to start soon?" asked Mr. Durban, appearing in the doorway.

"Yes; why?" inquired Tom, who noted an anxious note in the voice of
the hunter.

"Well, I don't like staying longer in this jungle than I can help.
It's not healthy in the first place, and then it's a wild and
desolate place, where all sorts of wild beasts are lurking, and
where wandering hands of natives may appear at any time."

"You don't mean that the red pygmies will come back; do you?" asked

"There's no telling," replied Mr. Durban with a shrug of his
shoulders. "Only, as long as we've got what we're after, I'd start
off as soon as possible."

"Yes, don't run any chances with those little red men," begged Andy
Foger, who had given himself up for lost when he and his companion
fell into their hands.

"Radder vould I be mit cannibals dan dose little imps!" spoke the
German fervently.

"We'll start at once," declared Tom. "Are you all aboard, and is
everything loaded into the airship?"

"Everything. I guess." answered Mr. Anderson.

Tom looked to the motor, saw that it was in working order, and
shoved over the lever of the gas machine to begin the generating of
the lifting vapor. To his surprise there was no corresponding hiss
that told of the gas rushing into the bag.

"That's odd," he remarked. "Ned, see if anything is wrong with that
machine. I'll pull the lever again."

The bank clerk stood beside the apparatus, while Tom worked the
handle, but whatever was the matter with it was too intricate or
complicated for Ned to solve.

"I can't see what ails it," he called to his chum. "You better have
a peep."

"All right, I'll look if you work the handle."

The passengers on the airship, which now rested in a little clearing
in the dense jungle, gathered at the engine room door, looking at
Tom and Ned as they worked over the machine.

"Bless my pulley wheel!" exclaimed Mr. Damon "I hope nothing has
gone wrong."

"Well something has!" declared the young inventor in a muffled
voice, for he was down on his hands and knees peering under the gas
apparatus. "One of the compression cylinders has cracked," he added
dubiously. "It must have snapped when we landed this last time. I
came down too heavily."

"What does that mean?" asked Mr. Durban, who did not know much about

"It means that I've got to put a new cylinder in," went on Tom.
"It's quite a job, too, but we can't make gas without it!"

"Well, can't you do it just as well up in the air as down here?"
asked Mr. Durban. "Make an ascension, Tom, and do the repairs up
above, where we've got good air, and where--"

He paused suddenly, and seemed to be listening.

"What is it?" asked the young inventor quickly. There was no need to
answer, for, from the jungle without, came the dull booming of the
war drums of some natives.

"That's what I was afraid of!" cried the old elephant hunter,
catching up his gun. "Some black scout has seen us and is summoning
his tribesmen. Hurry, Tom, send up the ship, and we'll take care of
the savages."

"But I CAN'T send her up!" cried Tom.

"You can't? Why not?"

"Because the gas machine won't work until I put in a new cylinder,
and that will take at least a half a day."

"Go up as an aeroplane then!" cried Mr. Damon. "Bless my monkey
wrench, Tom, you've often done it before."

For answer Tom waved his hand toward the thick jungle all about

"We haven't room to get a running start of ten feet." he said, "and
without a start the airship can never rise as a mere aeroplane. The
only way we can get up from the jungle is like a balloon, and
without the gas--"

He paused significantly. The sound of the war drums became louder,
and to it was added a weird singing chant.

"The natives!" cried Mr. Anderson. "They're coming right this way!
We must fight them off if they attack us!"

"Where's the electric rifle?" asked Ned. "Get that out, Tom!"

"Wait!" suggested Mr. Durban. "This is serious! It looks as if they
were going to attack us, and they have us at a disadvantage. Our
only safety is in flight, but as Tom says we can't go up until the
gas machine is fixed, he will have to attend to that part of it
while we keep off the black men. Tom, we can't spare you to fight
this time! You repair the ship as soon as you can, and we'll guard
her from the natives. And you've got to work lively!"

"I will!" cried the young inventor. "It's luck we have a spare

Suddenly there was a louder shout in the jungle and it was followed
by a riot of sound. War drums were beaten, tom-toms clashed and the
natives howled.

"Here they are!" cried Mr. Anderson.

"Bless my suspenders!" shouted Mr. Damon. "Where is my gun?"

"Here, you take mine, and I'll use the electric rifle," answered the
elephant hunter. As he spoke there was a hissing sound in the air
and a flight of spears passed over the airship.

The defenders slipped outside, while Tom, with Ned to help him,
worked feverishly to repair the break. They were in a serious
strait, for with the airship practically helpless they were at the
mercy of the natives. And as Tom glanced momentarily from the
window, he saw scores of black, half-naked forms slipping in and out
among the trees and trailing vines.

Soon the rifles of his friends began to crack, and the yells of the
natives were changed to howls of anguish. The electric weapon,
though it made no noise, did great execution.

"I only hope they don't puncture the gas bag," murmured Tom. as he
began taking the generating machine apart so as to get out the
cracked cylinder.

"If they do, it's all up with us," murmured Ned.

After their first rush, finding that the white men were on the
alert, the blacks withdrew some distance, where their spears and
arrows were not so effective. Our friends, including Andy Foger, and
the German, kept up a hot fire whenever a skulking black form could
be seen.

But, though the danger from the spears and arrows was less, a new
peril presented itself. This was from the blow guns. The curious
weapons shot small arrows, tipped with tufts of a cottony substance
in place of feathers, and could be sent for a long distance. The
barbs were not strong enough to pierce the tough fabric of the gas
bag, as a spear or arrow would have done, but there was more danger
from them to our friends who were on deck.

"Those barbs may be poisoned," said Mr. Durban, "and in case any one
is wounded, the wound, though it be but a scratch, must be treated
with antiseptics. I have some."

This course was followed, the elephant hunter being wounded twice,
and Andy Foger and Mr. Damon once each. There was not a native to be
seen now, for they were hiding behind the trees of the jungle, but
every now and then a blowgun barb would whizz out of the forest.

Finally Mr. Durban suggested that they erect improvised shelters,
behind which they could stand with their rifle, and breastworks were
made out of packing boxes. Then our friends were comparatively safe.
But they had to be on the alert, and it was nervous work, for they
could not tell what minute the blacks would rush from the jungle,
and, in spite of the fire from the electric rifle and other guns,
overwhelm the ship.

It was very trying to Tom and Ned, for they had to work hard and
rapidly in the close engine room. The sweat dripped down off them,
but they kept at it. It was three hours before the broken cylinder
was removed, and it was no light task to put in the other, for the
valves had to be made very tight to prevent leakage.

The two lads stopped to get something to eat, while the guards kept
sharp watch against a surprise. At intervals came a flight of barbs,
and occasionally a black form could be seen, when it was instantly
fired at. Several times the barbaric noise of the tom-toms and war
drums, with which the shouts of the natives mingled, broke out

"Think you can repair it by night?" asked Mr. Durban anxiously of

"I hope so," was the response.

"Because if we have to stay here after dark--well, I don't want to
do it if I can help it," finished the hunter.

Neither did the young inventor, and he redoubled his efforts to make
the repairs. It was getting dark when the last belt was in place,
and it was high time, too, for the natives were getting bolder,
creeping up through the forest to within shooting distance with
their arrows and spears.

"There!" cried Tom at length. "Now we'll see if she works!" Once
more he pulled the starting lever, and this time there was the
welcome hiss of the gas.

"Hurrah!" cried Ned.

The young inventor turned the machine on at full power. In a few
minutes the Black Hawk trembled through her length.

"She's going up! Bless my balloon basket! She's going up!" cried Mr.

The natives must have suspected that something unusual was going on,
for they made a sudden rush, yelling and beating their drums. Mr.
Durban and the others hurried out on deck and fired at them, but
there vas little more need. With a bound the airship left the earth,
being rapidly carried up by the gas. The blacks sent a final shower
of spears after her, but only one was effective, slightly wounding
the German. Then Tom started the motor, the propellers whizzed, and
the Black Hawk was once more under way, just as night settled over
the jungle, and upon the horde of black and howling savages that
rushed around, maddened over the escape of their intended victims.

No further accidents marred the trip to the coast, which was reached
in due time, and very glad our friends were to be away from the
jungle and the land of the red pygmies.

A division was made of the ivory, and Tom's share was large enough
to provide him with a substantial amount. Ned and Mr. Damon were
also given a goodly sum from the sale of the tusks. The big ones,
from the "rogue," were shipped to the man who had commissioned Mr.
Durban to secure them for him.

"Well, now for home," said Tom, when the airship had been taken
apart for shipment. "I guess you'll be glad to get back to the
United States, won't you, friends?"

"That's what," agreed Andy Foger. "I think I'm done with airships.
Ugh! When I think of those red dwarfs I can't sleep nights!"

"Yah, dot iss so!" agreed the German.

"Well, I'm going to settle down for a time," declared Tom. "I've had
enough adventures for a while, but those in elephant land--"

"They certainly put it all over the things that happen to some
people!" interrupted Ned with a laugh.

"Bless my fish-line, that's so!" agreed Mr. Damon.

But Tom Swift was not done with adventures, and what farther
happened to him may be learned by reading the next volume of this
series, which will be entitled, "Tom Swift in the City of Gold; or,
Marvelous Adventures Underground."

They all made a safe and pleasant voyage home, and as news of the
rescue of the missionaries had been cabled to America, Tom and his
friends were met, as they left the steamer, by a crowd of newspaper
reporters, who got a good story of the battle with the red pygmies,
though Tom was inclined to make light of his part in the affair.

"Now for Shopton, home, Dad, Eradicate Sampson and his mule!"
exclaimed Tom, as they boarded a train in New York.

"And somebody else, too, I guess; eh?" asked Ned of his chum,
with a laugh.

"That's none of your affair!" declared Tom, as he blushed,
and then he, too, joined in the merriment.

And now, for a time, we will say good-by to the young inventor
and his friends.

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