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Tom Swift and His Motor-Cycle by Victor Appleton

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"I wonder where he came from, and where he's going?" mused Tom.
"That's a boat I never saw on this lake before. It must be a new
one. Well, there's no help for it, I've got to go back and tell dad
I couldn't catch him." And with a last look at the fugitive, who,
with his boat, was becoming smaller and smaller every minute, Tom
turned and retraced his steps.



"Did you catch him, Tom?" asked Mr. Swift eagerly when his son
returned, but the inventor needed but a glance at the lad's
despondent face to have his question answered without words, "Never
mind," he added, "there's not much harm done, fortunately."

"Did he get anything? Any of your plans or models, dad?"

"No; not as far as I can discover. My papers in the shop were not
disturbed, but it looked as if the turbine model had been moved. The
only thing missing seems to be a sheet of unimportant calculations.
Luckily I had my most valuable drawings in the safe in the house."

"Yet that man seemed to be putting papers in his pocket, dad. Maybe
he made copies of some of your drawings."

"That's possible, Tom, and I admit it worries me. I can't imagine
who that man is, unless--"

"Why, he's one of the three men I saw in Mansburg in the
restaurant," said Tom eagerly. "Two of them tried to get information
here, and now the third one comes. He got away in a motor-boat," and
Tom told how the fugitive escaped.

Mr. Swift looked worried. It was not the first time attempts had
been made to steal his inventions, but on this occasion a desperate
and well-organized plan appeared to be on foot.

"What do you think they are up to, dad?" asked Tom.

"I think they are trying to get hold of my turbine motor, Tom. You
know I told you that the financiers were disappointed in the turbine
motor they bought of another inventor. It does not work. To get back
the money they spent in building an expensive plant they must have a
motor that is successful. Hence their efforts to get control of
mine. I don't know whether I told you or not, but some time ago I
refused a very good offer for certain rights in my invention. I knew
it was worth more. The offer came through Smeak & Katch, the
lawyers, and when I refused it they seemed much disappointed. I
think now that this same firm, and the financiers who have employed
them, are trying by all the means in their power to get possession
of my ideas, if not the invention and model itself."

"What can you do, dad?"

"Well, I must think. I certainly must take some means to protect
myself. I have had trouble before, but never any like this. I did
not think those men would be so unscrupulous."

"Do you know their names?"

"No, only from that telegram we found; the one which the first
stranger dropped. One of them must be Anson Morse. Who the others
are I don't know. But now I must make some plans to foil these
sharpers. I may have to call on you for help, Tom."

"And I'll be ready any time you call on me, dad," responded Tom,
drawing himself up. "Can I do anything for you right away?"

"No; I must think out a plan."

"Then I am going to change my motor-cycle a bit. I'll put some more
improvements on it."

"And I will write some letters to my lawyers in Washington and ask
their advice." It took Tom the remainder of that day, and part of
the next, to arrange the gasolene and spark control of his machine
to his satisfaction. He had to make two small levers and some
connecting rods. This he did in his own particular machine shop,
which was fitted up with a lathe and other apparatus. The lathe was
run by power coming from a small engine, which was operated by an
engineer, an elderly man to whom Mr. Swift had given employment for
many years. He was Garret Jackson, and he kept so close to his
engine and boiler-room that he was seldom seen outside of it except
when the day's work was done.

One afternoon, a few days after the unsuccessful chase after the
fugitive had taken place, Tom went out for a spin on his
motor-cycle. He found that the machine worked much better, and was
easier to control. He rode about fifteen miles away from home, and
then returned. As he entered the yard he saw, standing on the drive, a
ramshackle old wagon, drawn by a big mule, which seemed, at the time
Tom observed him, to be asleep.

"I'll wager that's Boomerang," said Tom aloud, and the mule opened
its eyes, wiggled its ears and started forward.

"Whoa dar, Boomerang!" exclaimed a voice, and Eradicate Sampson
hurried around the corner of the house. "Dat's jest lake yo'," went
on the colored man. "Movin' when yo' ain't wanted to." Then, as he
caught sight of Tom, he exclaimed, "Why, if it ain't young Mistah
Swift! Good lordy! But dat livery brake yo' done fixed on mah wagon
suttinly am fine. Ah kin go down de steepest hill widout ropin' de

"Glad of it," replied Tom. "Did you come to do some work?"

"Yais, sah, I done did. I found I had some time t' spah, an' thinks
I dere might be some whitewashin' I could do. Yo' see, I lib only
'bout two mile from heah."

"Well, I guess you can do a few jobs," said Tom. "Wait here."

He hunted up his father, and obtained permission to set Eradicate at
work cleaning out a chicken house and whitewashing it. The darky was
soon at work. A little later Tom passing saw him putting the
whitewash on thick. Eradicate stopped at the sight of Tom, and made
some curious motions.

"What's the matter, Rad?" asked the young inventor.

"Why, de whitewash done persist in runnin' down de bresh handle an'
inter mah sleeve. I'm soakin' wet from it now, an' I has t' stop
ebery onct in a while 'case mah sleeve gits full."

Tom saw what the trouble was. The white fluid did run down the long
brush handle in a small rivulet. Tom had once seen a little rubber
device on a window-cleaning brush that worked well, and he decided
to try it for Eradicate.

"Wait a minute," Tom advised. "I think I can stop that for you."

The colored man was very willing to take a rest, but it did not last
long, for Tom was soon back at the chicken coop. He had a small
rubber disk, with a hole in the center, the size of the brush
handle. Slipping the disk over the wood, he pushed it about half way
along, and then, handing the brush back to the negro, told him to
try it that way.

"Did yo' done put a charm on mah bresh?" asked Eradicate somewhat

"Yes, a sort of hoodoo charm. Try it now."

The darky dipped his brush in the pail of whitewash, and then began
to spread the disinfectant on the sides of the coop near the top.
The surplus fluid started to run down the handle, but, meeting the
piece of rubber, came no farther, and dripped off on the ground. It
did not run down the sleeve of Eradicate.

"Well, I 'clar t' goodness! That suttinly am a mighty fine charm!"
cried the colored man. "Yo' suah am a pert gen'men, all right. Now I
kin work widout stoppin' t' empty mah sleeve ob lime juice ebery
minute. I'se suttinly obliged t' yo'."

"You're welcome, I'm sure," replied Tom. "I think some day I'll
invent a machine for whitewashing, and then--"

"Doan't do dat! Doan't do dat!" begged Eradicate earnestly. "Dis,
an' makin' dirt disappear, am de only perfessions I got. Doan't go
'ventin' no machine, Mistah Swift."

"All right. I'll wait until you get rich."

"Ha, ha! Den yo' gwine t' wait a pow'ful long time," chuckled
Eradicate as he went on with his whitewashing.

Tom went into the house. He found his father busy with some papers
at his desk.

"Ah, it's you, is it, Tom?" asked the inventor, looking up. "I was
just wishing you would come in."

"What for, dad?"

"Well, I have quite an important mission for you. I want you to go
on a journey."

"A journey? Where?"

"To Albany. You see, I've been thinking over matters, and I have
been in correspondence with my lawyers in regard to my turbine
motor. I must take measures to protect myself. You know I have not
yet taken out a complete patent on the machine. I have not done so
because I did not want to put my model on exhibition in Washington.
I was afraid some of those unscrupulous men would take advantage of
me. Another point was that I had not perfected a certain device that
goes on the motor. That objection is now removed, and I am ready to
send my model to Washington, and take out the complete patent."

"But I thought you said you wanted me to go to Albany."

"So I do. I will explain. I have just had a letter from Reid &
Crawford, my Washington attorneys. Mr. Crawford, the junior member
of the firm, will be in Albany this week on some law business. He
agrees to receive my model and some papers there, and take them back
to Washington with him. In this way they will be well protected. You
see, I have to be on my guard, and if I send the model to Albany,
instead of the national capital, I may throw the plotters off the
track, for I feel that they are watching every move I make. As soon
as you or I should start for Washington they would be on our trail.
But you can go to Albany unsuspected. Mr. Crawford will wait for you
there. I want you to start day after to-morrow."

"All right, dad. I can start now, if you say so."

"No, there is no special need for haste. I have some matters to
arrange. You might go to the station and inquire about trains to the
State capital."

"Am I going by train?"

"Certainly. How else could you go?"

There was a look of excitement in Tom's eyes. He had a sudden idea.

"Dad," he exclaimed, "why couldn't I go on my motor-cycle?"

"Your motor-cycle?"

"Yes. I could easily make the trip on it in one day. The roads are
good, and I would enjoy it. I can carry the model back of me on the
saddle. It is not very large."

"Well," said Mr. Swift slowly, for the idea was a new one to him, "I
suppose that part would be all right. But you have not had much
experience riding a motor-cycle. Besides, you don't know the roads."

"I can inquire. Will you let me go, dad?"

Mr. Swift appeared to hesitate.

"It will be fine!" went on Tom. "I would enjoy the trip, and there's
another thing. If we want to keep this matter secret the best plan
would be to let me go on my machine. If those men are on the watch,
they will not think that I have the model. They will think I'm just
going for a pleasure jaunt."

"There's something in that," admitted Mr. Swift, and Tom, seeing
that his father was favorably inclined, renewed his arguments, until
the inventor finally agreed.

"It will be a great trip!" exclaimed Tom. "I'll go all over my machine
now, to see that it's in good shape. You get your papers and model
ready, dad, and I'll take them to Albany for you. The motor-cycle will
come in handy."

But had Tom only known the dangers ahead of him, and the risks he
was to run, he would not have whistled so light heartedly as he went
over every nut and bolt on his machine.

Two days later, the valuable model, having been made into a
convenient package, and wrapped in water-proof paper, was fastened
back of the saddle on the motor-cycle. Tom carefully pinned in an
inside pocket the papers which were to be handed to Mr. Crawford. He
was to meet the lawyer at a hotel in Albany.

"Now take care of yourself, Tom," cautioned his father as he bade
him good-by. "Don't try to make speed, as there is no special rush.
And, above all, don't lose anything."

"I'll not, dad," and with a wave of his hand to Mr. Swift and the
housekeeper, who stood in the door to see him off, Tom jumped into
the saddle, started the machine, and then, after sufficient momentum
had been attained, he turned on the gasolene and set the spark
lever. With rattles and bangs, which were quickly subdued by the
muffler, the machine gathered speed. Tom was off for Albany.



Though Tom's father had told him there was no necessity for any
great speed, the young inventor could not resist the opportunity for
pushing his machine to the limit. The road was a level one and in
good condition, so the motor-cycle fairly flew along. The day was
pleasant, a warm sun shining overhead, and it was evident that early
summer was crowding spring rather closely.

"This is glorious!" exclaimed Tom aloud as he spun along. "I'm glad I
persuaded dad to let me take this trip. It was a great idea. Wish Ned
Newton was along, though. He'd be company for me, but, as Ned would
say, there are two good reasons why he can't come. One is he has to
work in the bank, and the other is that he has no motor-cycle."

Tom swept past house after house along the road, heading in the
opposite direction from that in which lay the town of Shopton and
the city of Mansburg. For several miles Tom's route would lie
through a country district. The first large town he would reach
would be Centreford. He planned to get lunch there, and he had
brought a few sandwiches with him to eat along the road in case he
became hungry before he reached the place.

"I hope the package containing the model doesn't jar off," mused the
lad as he reached behind to make sure that the precious bundle was
safe. "Dad would be in a bad way if that should disappear. And the
papers, too." He put his hand to his inner pocket to feel that they
were secure. Coming to a little down-grade, Tom shut off some of the
power, the new levers he had arranged to control the gasolene and
spark working well.

"I think I'll take the old wood road and pass through Pompville,"
Tom decided, after covering another mile or two. He was approaching
a division in the highway. "It's a bit sandy," he went on, "and the
going will be heavy, but it will be a good chance to test my
machine. Besides, I'll save five miles, and, while I don't have to
hurry, I may need time on the other end. I'd rather arrive in Albany
a little before dusk than after dark. I can deliver the model and
papers and have a good night's sleep before starting back. So the
old wood road it will be."

The wood road, as Tom called it, was a seldom used highway, which,
originally, was laid out for just what the name indicated, to bring
wood from the forest. With the disappearance of most of the trees
the road became more used for ordinary traffic between the towns of
Pompville and Edgefield. But when the State built a new highway
connecting these two places the old road fell into disuse, though it
was several miles shorter than the new turnpike.

He turned from the main thoroughfare, and was soon spinning along
the sandy stretch, which was shaded with trees that in some places
met overhead, forming a leafy arch. It was cool and pleasant, and
Tom liked it.

"It isn't as bad as I thought," he remarked. "The sand is pretty
thick, but this machine of mine appears to be able to crawl through

Indeed, the motor-cycle was doing remarkably well, but Tom found
that he had to turn on full power, for the big rubber wheels went
deep into the soft soil. Along Tom rode, picking out the firmest
places in the road. He was so intent on this that he did not pay
much attention to what was immediately ahead of him, knowing that he
was not very likely to meet other vehicles or pedestrians. He was
considerably startled therefore when, as he went around a turn in
the highway where the bushes grew thick, right down to the edge of
the road, to see a figure emerge from the underbrush and start
across the path. So quickly did the man appear that Tom was almost
upon him in an instant, and even though the young inventor shut off
the power and applied the brake, the front wheel hit the man and
knocked him down.

"What's the matter with you? What are you trying to do--kill me? Why
don't you ring a bell or blow a horn when you're coming?" The man had
sprung up from the soft sand where the wheel from the motor-cycle had
sent him and faced Tom angrily. Then the rider, who had quickly
dismounted, saw that his victim was a ragged tramp.

"I'm sorry," began Tom. "You came out of the bushes so quickly that
I didn't have a chance to warn you. Did I hurt you much?"

"Well, youse might have. 'Tain't your fault dat youse didn't," and
the tramp began to brush the dirt from his ragged coat. Tom was
instantly struck by a curious fact. The tramp in his second remarks
used language more in keeping with his character, whereas, in his
first surprise and anger, he had talked much as any other person
would. "Youse fellers ain't got no right t' ride dem machines like
lightnin' along de roads," the ragged chap went on, and he still
clung to the use of words and expressions current among his
fraternity. Tom wondered at it, and then, ascribing the use of the
better language to the fright caused by being hit by the machine,
the lad thought no more about it at the time. There was occasion,
however, when he attached more meaning to it.

"I'm very sorry," went on Tom. "I'm sure I didn't mean to. You see,
I was going quite slowly, and--"

"You call dat slow, when youse hit me an' knocked me down?" demanded
the tramp. "I'd oughter have youse arrested, dat's what, an' I would
if dere was a cop handy."

"I wasn't going at all fast," said Tom, a little nettled that his
conciliatory words should be so rudely received. "If I had been
going full speed I'd have knocked you fifty feet."

"It's a good thing. Cracky, den I'm glad dat youse wasn't goin' like
dat," and the tramp seemed somewhat confused. This time Tom looked
at him more closely, for the change in his language had been very
plain. The fellow seemed uneasy, and turned his face away. As he did
so Tom caught a glimpse of what he was sure was a false beard. It
was altogether too well-kept a beard to be a natural one for such a
dirty tramp as this one appeared to be.

"That fellow's disguised!" Tom thought. "He's playing a part. I
wonder if I'd better take chances and spring it on him that I'm on
to his game?"

Then the ragged man spoke again:

"I s'pose it was part my fault, cully. I didn't know dat any guy was
comin' along on one of dem buzz-machines, or I'd been more careful.
I don't s'pose youse meant to upset me?" and he looked at Tom more
boldly. This time his words seemed so natural, and his beard, now
that Tom took a second look at it, so much a part of himself, that
the young inventor wondered if he could have been mistaken in his
first surmise.

"Perhaps he was once a gentleman, and has turned tramp because of
hard luck," thought Tom. "That would account for him using good
language at times. Guess I'd better keep still." Then to the tramp
he said: "I'm sure I didn't mean to hit you. I admit I wasn't
looking where I was going, but I never expected to meet any one on
this road. I certainly didn't expect to see a--"

He paused in some confusion. He was about to use the term "tramp,"
and he hesitated, not knowing how it would be received by his

"Oh, dat's all right, cully. Call me a tramp--I know dat's what
youse was goin' t' say. I'm used t' it. I've been a hobo so many
years now dat I don't mind. De time was when I was a decent chap,
though. But I'm a tramp now. Say, youse couldn't lend me a quarter,
could youse?"

He approached closer to Tom, and looked quickly up and down the
road. The highway was deserted, nor was there any likelihood that
any one would come along. Tom was somewhat apprehensive, for the
tramp was a burly specimen. The young inventor, however, was not so
much alarmed at the prospect of a personal encounter, as that he
feared he might be robbed, not only of his money, but the valuable
papers and model he carried. Even if the tramp was content with
taking his money, it would mean that Tom would have to go back home
for more, and so postpone his trip.

So it was with no little alarm that he watched the ragged man coming
nearer to him. Then a bright idea came into Tom's head. He quickly
shifted his position so that he brought the heavy motor-cycle
between the man and himself. He resolved, if the tramp showed a
disposition to attack him, to push the machine over on him, and this
would give Tom a chance to attack the thief to better advantage.
However, the "hobo" showed no evidence of wanting to resort to
highwayman methods. He paused a short distance from the machine, and
said admiringly:

"Dat's a pretty shebang youse has."

"Yes, it's very fair," admitted Tom, who was not yet breathing

"Kin youse go far on it?"

"Two hundred miles a day, easily."

"Fer cats' sake! An' I can't make dat ridin' on de blind baggage;
but dat's 'cause I gits put off so much. But say, is youse goin' to
let me have dat quarter? I need it, honest I do. I ain't had nuttin'
t' eat in two days."

The man's tone was whining. Surely he seemed like a genuine tramp,
and Tom felt a little sorry for him. Besides, he felt that he owed
him something for the unceremonious manner in which he had knocked
the fellow down. Tom reached his hand in his pocket for some change,
taking care to keep the machine between himself and the tramp.

"Are youse goin' far on dat rig-a-ma-jig?" went on the man as he
looked carefully over the motor-cycle.

"To Albany," answered Tom, and the moment the words were out of his
mouth he wished he could recall them. All his suspicions regarding
the tramp came back to him. But the ragged chap appeared to attach
no significance to them.

"Albany? Dat's in Jersey, ain't it?" he asked.

"No, it's in New York," replied Tom, and then, to change the
subject, he pulled out a half-dollar and handed it to the man. As he
did so Tom noticed that the tramp had tattooed on the little finger
of his left hand a blue ring.

"Dat's de stuff! Youse is a reg'lar millionaire, youse is!"
exclaimed the tramp, and his manner seemed in earnest. "I'll
remember youse, I will. What's your name, anyhow, cully?"

"Tom Swift," replied our hero, and again he wished he had not told.
This time he was sure the tramp started and glanced at him quickly,
but perhaps it was only his imagination.

"Tom Swift," repeated the man musingly, and his tones were different
from the whining ones in which he had asked for money. Then, as if
recollecting the part he was playing, he added: "I s'pose dey calls
youse dat because youse rides so quick on dat machine. But I'm
certainly obliged to youse--Tom Swift, an' I hopes youse gits t'
Albany, in Jersey, in good time."

He turned away, and Tom was beginning to breathe more easily when
the ragged man, with a quick gesture, reached out and grabbed hold
of the motor-cycle. He gave it such a pull that it was nearly torn
from Tom's grasp. The lad was so startled at the sudden exhibition
of vindictiveness an the part of the tramp that he did not know what
to do. Then, before he could recover himself, the tramp darted into
the bushes.

"I guess Happy Harry--dat's me--has spoiled your ride t' Albany!"
the tramp cried. "Maybe next time youse won't run down poor fellers
on de road," and with that, the ragged man, shaking his fist at Tom,
was lost to sight in the underbrush.

"Well, if that isn't a queer end up," mused Tom. "He must be crazy.
I hope I don't meet you again, Happy Harry, or whatever your name
is. Guess I'll get out of this neighborhood."



Tom first made sure that the package containing the model was still
safely in place back of his saddle on the motor-cycle. Finding it
there he next put his hand in his pocket to see that he had the

"They're all right," spoke Tom aloud. "I didn't know but what that
chap might have worked a pickpocket game on me. I'm glad I didn't
meet him after dark. Well, it's a good thing it's no worse. I wonder
if he tried to get my machine away from me? Don't believe he'd know
how to ride it if he did."

Tom wheeled his motor-cycle to a hard side-path along the old road,
and jumped into the saddle. He worked the pedals preparatory to
turning on the gasolene and spark to set the motor in motion. As he
threw forward the levers, having acquired what he thought was the
necessary momentum, he was surprised that no explosion followed. The
motor seemed "dead."

"That's queer," he thought, and he began to pedal more rapidly. "It
always used to start easily. Maybe it doesn't like this sandy

It was hard work sending the heavy machine along by "leg power," and
once more, when he had acquired what he thought was sufficient
speed, Tom turned on the power. But no explosions followed, and in
some alarm he jumped to the ground.

"Something's wrong," he said aloud. "That tramp must have damaged
the machine when he yanked it so." Tom went quickly over the
different parts. It did not take him long to discover what the
trouble was. One of the wires, leading from the batteries to the
motor, which wire served to carry the current of electricity that
exploded the mixture of air and gasolene, was missing. It had been
broken off close to the battery box and the spark plug.

"That's what Happy Harry did!" exclaimed Tom. "He pulled that wire
off when he yanked my machine. That's what he meant by hoping I'd
get to Albany. That fellow was no tramp. He was disguised, and up to
some game. And he knows something about motor-cycles, too, or he
never would have taken that wire. I'm stalled, now, for I haven't
got another piece. I ought to have brought some. I'll have to push
this machine until I get to town, or else go back home."

The young inventor looked up and down the lonely road, undecided
what to do. To return home meant that he would be delayed in getting
to Albany, for he would lose a day. If he pushed on to Pompville he
might be able to get a bit of wire there.

Tom decided that was his best plan, and plodded on through the thick
sand. He had not gone more than a quarter of a mile, every step
seeming harder than the preceding one, when he heard, from the woods
close at his left hand, a gun fired. He jumped so that he nearly let
the motor-cycle fall over, for a wild idea came into his head that
the tramp had shot at him. With a quickly-beating heart the lad
looked about him.

"I wonder if that was Happy Harry?" he mused.

There was a crackling in the bushes and Tom, wondering what he might
do to protect himself, looked toward the place whence the noise
proceeded. A moment later a hunter stepped into view. The man
carried a gun and wore a canvas suit, a belt about his waist being
filled with cartridges.

"Hello!" he exclaimed pleasantly, Then, seeing a look of alarm on
the lad's face, he went on:

"I hope I didn't shoot in your direction, young man; did I?"

"No--no, sir," replied the youthful inventor, who had hardly
recovered his composure. "I heard your gun, and I imagined--"

"Did you think you had been shot? You must have a very vivid
imagination, for I fired in the air."

"No, I didn't exactly think that," replied Tom, "but I just had an
encounter with an ugly tramp, and I feared he might be using me for
a target."

"Is that so. I hadn't noticed any tramps around here, and I've been
in these woods nearly all day. Did he harm you?"

"No, not me, but my motor-cycle," and the lad explained.

"Pshaw! That's too bad!" exclaimed the hunter. "I wish I could
supply you with a bit of wire, but I haven't any. I'm just walking
about, trying my new gun."

"I shouldn't think you'd find anything to shoot this time of year,"
remarked Tom.

"I don't expect to," answered the hunter, who had introduced himself
as Theodore Duncan. "But I have just purchased a new gun, and I
wanted to try it. I expect to do considerable hunting this fall, and
so I'm getting ready for it."

"Do you live near here?"

"Well, about ten miles away, on the other side of Lake Carlopa, but
I am fond of long walks in the woods. If you ever get to Waterford I
wish you'd come and see me, Mr. Swift. I have heard of your father."

"I will, Mr. Duncan; but if I don't get something to repair my
machine with I'm not likely to get anywhere right away."

"Well, I wish I could help you, but I haven't the least ingenuity
when it comes to machinery. Now if I could help you track down that

"Oh, no, thank you, I'd rather not have anything more to do with

"If I caught sight of him now," resumed the hunter, "I fancy I could
make him halt, and, perhaps, give you back the wire. I'm a pretty
good shot, even if this is a new gun. I've been practicing at
improvised targets all day."

"No; the less I have to do with him, the better I shall like it,"
answered Tom, "though I'm much obliged to you. I'll manage somehow
until I get to Pompville."

He started off again, the hunter disappearing in the woods, whence
the sound of his gun was again heard.

"He's a queer chap," murmured Tom, "but I like him. Perhaps I may
see him when I go to Waterford, if I ever do."

Tom was destined to see the hunter again, at no distant time, and
under strange circumstances. But now the lad's whole attention was
taken up with the difficulty in which he found himself. Vainly
musing on what object the tramp could have had in breaking off the
wire, the young inventor trudged on.

"I guess he was one of the gang after dad's invention," thought Tom,
"and he must have wanted to hinder me from getting to Albany, though
why I can't imagine." With a dubious shake of his head Tom
proceeded. It was hard work pushing the heavy machine through the
sand, and he was puffing before he had gone very, far.

"I certainly am up against it," he murmured. "But if I can get a bit
of wire in Pompville I'll be all right. If I can't--"

Just then Tom saw something which caused him to utter an exclamation
of delight.

"That's the very thing!" he cried. "Why didn't I think of it

Leaving his motor-cycle standing against a tree Tom hurried to a
fence that separated the road from a field. The fence was a barbed-
wire one, and in a moment Tom had found a broken strand.

"Guess no one will care if I take a piece of this," he reasoned. "It
will answer until I can get more. I'll have it in place in a jiffy!"

It did not take long to get his pliers from his toolbag and snip off
a piece of the wire. Untwisting it he took out the sharp barbs, and
then was ready to attach it to the binding posts of the battery box
and the spark plug.

"Hold on, though!" he exclaimed as he paused in the work. "It's got
to be insulated, or it will vibrate against the metal of the machine
and short circuit. I have it! My handkerchief! I s'pose Mrs. Baggert
will kick at tearing up a good one, but I can't help it."

Tom took a spare handkerchief from the bundle in which he had a few
belongings carried with the idea of spending the night at an Albany
hotel, and he was soon wrapping strips of linen around the wire,
tying them with pieces of string.

"There!" he exclaimed at length. "That's insulated good enough, I
guess. Now to fasten it on and start."

The young inventor, who was quick with tools, soon had the
improvised wire in place. He tested the spark and found that it was
almost as good as when the regular copper conductor was in place.
Then, having taken a spare bit of the barbed-wire along in case of
another emergency, he jumped on the motor-cycle, pedaled it until
sufficient speed was attained, and turned on the power.

"That's the stuff!" he cried as the welcome explosions sounded. "I
guess I've fooled Happy Harry! I'll get to Albany pretty nearly on
time, anyhow. But that tramp surely had me worried for a while."

He rode into Pompville, and on inquiring in a plumbing shop managed
to get a bit of copper wire that answered better than did the
galvanized piece from the fence. The readjustment was quickly made,
and he was on his way again. As it was getting close to noon he
stopped near a little spring outside of Pompville and ate a
sandwich, washing it down with the cold water. Then he started for

As he was coming into the city he heard an automobile behind him. He
steered to one side of the road to give the big car plenty of room
to pass, but it did not come on as speedily as he thought it would.
He looked back and saw that it was going to stop near him.
Accordingly he shut off the power of his machine.

"Is this the road to Centreford?" asked one of the travelers in the

"Straight ahead," answered the lad.

At the sound of his voice one of the men in the big touring car
leaned forward and whispered something to one on the front seat. The
second man nodded, and looked closely at Tom. The youth, in turn,
stared at the men. He could not distinguish their faces, as they had
on auto goggles.

"How many miles is it?" asked the man who had whispered, and at the
sound of his voice Tom felt a vague sense that he had heard it

"Three," answered the young inventor, and once more he saw the men
whisper among themselves.

"Thanks," spoke the driver of the car, and he threw in the gears. As
the big machine darted ahead the goggles which one of the men wore
slipped off. Tom had a glimpse of his face.

"Anson Morse!" he exclaimed. "If that isn't the man who was sneaking
around dad's motor shop he's his twin brother! I wonder if those
aren't the men who are after the patent model? I must be on my
guard!" and Tom, watching the car fade out of sight on the road
ahead of him, slowly started his motor-cycle. He was much puzzled
and alarmed.



The more Tom tried to reason out the cause of the men's actions, the
more he dwelt upon his encounter with the tramp, and the harder he
endeavored to seek a solution of the queer puzzle, the more
complicated it seemed. He rode on until he saw in a valley below him
the buildings of the town of Centreford, and, with a view of them, a
new idea came into his mind.

"I'll go get a good dinner," he decided, "and perhaps that will help
me to think more clearly. That's what dad always does when he's
puzzling over an invention." He was soon seated in a restaurant,
where he ate a substantial dinner. "I'm just going to stop puzzling
over this matter," he decided. "I'll push an to Albany and tell the
lawyer, Mr. Crawford. Perhaps he can advise me."

Once this decision was made Tom felt better.

"That's just what I needed," he thought; "some one to shift the
responsibility upon. I'll let the lawyers do the worrying. That's
what they're paid for. Now for Albany, and I hope I don't have to
stop, except for supper, until I get there. I've got to do some
night riding, but I've got a powerful lamp, and the roads from now
on are good."

Tom was soon on his way again. The highway leading to Albany was a
hard, macadam one, and he fairly flew along the level stretches.

"This is making good time," he thought. "I won't be so very late,
after all; that is, if nothing delays me."

The young inventor looked up into the sky. The sun, which had been
shining brightly all day, was now hidden behind a mass of hazy
clouds, for which the rider was duly grateful, as it was becoming
quite warm.

"It's more like summer than I thought," said Tom to himself. "I
shouldn't be surprised if we got rain to-morrow."

Another look at the sky confirmed him in this belief, and he had not
gone on many miles farther when his opinion was suddenly changed.
This was brought about by a dull rumble in the west, and Tom noticed
that a bank of low-lying clouds had formed, the black, inky masses
of vapor being whirled upward as if by some powerful blast.

"Guess my storm is going to arrive ahead of time," he said. "I'd
better look for shelter."

With a suddenness that characterizes summer showers, the whole sky
became overcast. The thunder increased, and the flashes of lightning
became more frequent and dazzling. A wind sprang up and blew clouds
of dust in Tom's face.

"It certainly is going to be a thunder storm," he admitted. "I'm
bound to be delayed now, for the roads will be mucky. Well, there's
no help for it. If I get to Albany before midnight I'll he doing

A few drops of rain splashed on his hands, and as he looked up to
note the state of the sky others fell in his face. They were big
drops, and where they splashed on the road they formed little
globules of mud.

"I'll head for that big tree," thought Tom "It will give me some
shelter. I'll wait there--" His words were interrupted by a
deafening crash of thunder which followed close after a blinding
flash. "No tree for mine!" murmured Tom. "I forgot that they're
dangerous in a storm. I wonder where I can stay?"

He turned on all the power possible and sprinted ahead. Around a
curve in the road he went, leaning over to preserve his balance, and
just as the rain came pelting down in a torrent he saw just ahead of
him a white church on the lonely country road. To one side was a
long shed, where the farmers were in the habit of leaving their
teams when they came to service.

"Just the thing!" cried the boy; "and just in time!"

He turned his motor-cycle into the yard surrounding the church, and
a moment later had come to a stop beneath the shed. It was broad and
long, furnishing a good protection against the storm, which had now
burst in all its fury.

Tom was not very wet, and looking to see that the model, which was
partly of wood, had suffered no damage, the lad gave his attention
to his machine.

"Seems to be all right," he murmured. "I'll just oil her up while
I'm waiting. This can't last long; it's raining too hard."

He busied himself over the motor-cycle, adjusting a nut that had
been rattled loose, and putting some oil on the bearings. The rain
kept up steadily, and when he had completed his attentions to his
machine Tom looked out from under the protection of the shed.

"It certainly is coming down for keeps," he murmured. "This trip is
a regular hoodoo so far. Hope I have it better coming back."

As he looked down the road he espied an automobile coming through
the mist of rain. It was an open car, and as he saw the three men in
it huddled up under the insufficient protection of some blankets,
Tom said:

"They'd ought to come in here. There's lots of room. Maybe they
don't see it. I'll call to them."

The car was almost opposite the shed which was dose to the roadside.
Tom was about to call when one of the men in the auto looked up. He
saw the shelter and spoke to the chauffeur. The latter was preparing
to steer up into the shed when the two men on the rear seat caught
sight of Tom.

"Why, that's the same car that passed me a while ago," said the
young inventor half aloud. "The one that contained those men whom I
suspected might be after dad's patent. I hope they--"

He did not finish his sentence, for at that instant the chauffeur
quickly swung the machine around and headed it back into the road.
Clearly the men were not going to take advantage of the shelter of
the shed.

"That's mighty strange," murmured Tom. "They certainly saw me, and
as soon as they did they turned away. Can they be afraid of me?"

He went to the edge of the shelter and peered out. The auto had
disappeared down the road behind a veil of rain, and, shaking his
head over the strange occurrence, Tom went back to where he had left
his motor-cycle.

"Things are getting more and more muddled," he said. "I'm sure those
were the same men, and yet--"

He shrugged his shoulders. The puzzle was getting beyond him.



Steadily the rain came down, the wind driving it under the shed
until Tom was hard put to find a place where the drops would not
reach him. He withdrew into a far corner, taking his motor-cycle with
him, and then, sitting on a block of wood, under the rough mangers
where the horses were fed while the farmers attended church, the lad
thought over the situation. He could make little of it, and the more
he tried the worse it seemed to become. He looked out across the wet

"I wonder if this is ever going to stop?" he mused. "It looks as if
it was in for an all-day pour, yet we ought only to have a summer
shower by rights."

"But then I guess what I think about it won't influence the weather
man a bit. I might as well make myself comfortable, for I can't do
anything. Let's see. If I get to Fordham by six o'clock I ought to
be able to make Albany by nine, as it's only forty miles. I'll get
supper in Fordham, and push on. That is, I will if the rain stops."

That was the most necessary matter to have happen first, and Tom
arising from his seat strolled over to the front of the shed to look

"I believe it is getting lighter in the west," he told himself.
"Yes, the clouds are lifting. It's going to clear. It's only a
summer shower, after all."

But just as he said that there came a sudden squall of wind and
rain, fiercer than any which had preceded. Tom was driven back to
his seat on the log. It was quite chilly now, and he noticed that
near where he sat there was a big opening in the rear of the shed,
where a couple of boards were off.

"This must be a draughty place in winter," he observed. "If I could
find a drier spot I'd sit there, but this seems to be the best," and
he remained there, musing on many things. Suddenly in the midst of
his thoughts he imagined he heard the sound of an automobile
approaching. "I wonder if those men are coming back here?" he
exclaimed. "If they are--"

The youth again arose, and went to the front of the shed. He could
see nothing, and came back to escape the rain. There was no doubt
but that the shower would soon be over, and looking at his watch,
Tom began to calculate when he might arrive in Albany.

He was busy trying to figure out the best plan to pursue, and was
hardly conscious of his surroundings. Seated on the log, with his
back to the opening in the shed, the young inventor could not see a
figure stealthily creeping up through the wet grass. Nor could he
see an automobile, which had come to a stop back of the horse
shelter--an automobile containing two rain-soaked men, who were
anxiously watching the one stealing through the grass.

Tom put his watch back into his pocket and looked out into the
storm. It was almost over. The sun was trying to shine through the
clouds, and only a few drops were falling. The youth stretched with
a yawn, for he was tired of sitting still. At the moment when he
raised his arms to relieve his muscles something was thrust through
the opening behind him. It was a long club, and an instant later it
descended on the lad's head. He went down in a heap, limp and

Through the opening leaped a man. He bent over Tom, looked anxiously
at him, and then, stepping to the place where the boards were off
the shed, he motioned to the men in the automobile.

They hurried from the machine, and were soon beside their companion.

"I knocked him out, all right," observed the man who had reached
through and dealt Tom the blow with the club.

"Knocked him out! I should say you did, Featherton!" exclaimed one
who appeared better dressed than the others. "Have you killed him?"

"No; but I wish you wouldn't mention my name, Mr. Appleson. I--I
don't like--"

"Nonsense, Featherton. No one can hear us. But I'm afraid you've
done for the chap. I didn't want him harmed."

"Oh, I guess Featherton knows how to do it, Appleson," commented the
third man. "He's had experience that way, eh, Featherton?"

"Yes, Mr. Morse; but if you please I wish you wouldn't mention--"

"All right, Featherton, I know what you mean," rejoined the man
addressed as Morse. "Now let's see if we have drawn a blank or not.
I think he has with him the very thing we want,"

"Doesn't seem to be about his person," observed Appleson, as he
carefully felt about the clothing of the unfortunate Tom.

"Very likely not. It's too bulky. But there's his motor-cycle over
there. It looks as if what we wanted was on the back of the saddle.
Jove, Featherton, but I think he's coming to!"

Tom stirred uneasily and moved his arms, while a moan came from
between his parted lips.

"I've got some stuff that will fix him!" exclaimed the man addressed
as Featherton, and who had been operating the automobile. He took
something from his pocket and leaned over Tom. In a moment the young
inventor was still again.

"Quick now, see if it's there," directed Morse, and Appleson hurried
over to the machine.

"Here it is!" he called. "I'll take it to our car, and we can get

"Are you going to leave him here like this?" asked Morse.

"Yes; why not?"

"Because some one might have seen him come in here, and also
remember that we, too, came in this direction."

"What would you do?"

"Take him down the road a way and leave him. We can find some shed
near a farmhouse where he and his machine will be out of sight until
we get far enough away. Besides, I don't like to leave him so far
from help, unconscious as he is."

"Oh, you're getting chicken-hearted," said Appleson with a sneer.
"However, have your way about it. I wonder what has become of Jake
Burke? He was to meet us in Centreford, but he did not show up."

"Oh, I shouldn't be surprised if he had trouble in that tramp rig he
insisted on adopting. I told him he was running a risk, but he said
he had masqueraded as a tramp before."

"So he has. He's pretty good at it. Now, Simpson, if you will--"

"Not Simpson! I thought you agreed to call me Featherton,"
interrupted the chauffeur, turning to Morse and Appleson.

"Oh, so we did. I forgot that this lad met us one day, and heard me
call you Simpson," admitted Morse. "Well, Featherton it shall be.
But we haven't much time. It's stopped raining, and the roads will
soon be well traveled. We must get away, and if we are to take the
lad and his machine to some secluded place, we'd better be at it. No
use waiting for Burke. He can look out after himself. Anyhow, we
have the model now, and there's no use in him hanging around Swift's
shop, as he intended to do, waiting for a chance to sneak in after
it. Appleson, if you and Simpson--I mean Featherton--will carry
young Swift, I'll shove his wheel along to the auto, and we can put
it and him in."

The two men, first looking through the hole in the shed to make sure
they were not observed, went out, carrying Tom, who was no light
load. Morse followed them, pushing the motor-cycle, and carrying
under one arm the bundle containing the valuable model, which he had

"I think this is the time we get ahead of Mr. Swift," murmured
Morse, pulling his black mustache, when he and his companions had
reached the car in the field. "We have just what we want now."

"Yes, but we had hard enough work getting it," observed Appleson.
"Only by luck we saw this lad come in here, or we would have had to
chase all over for him, and maybe then we would have missed him.
Hurry, Simpson--I mean Featherton. It's getting late, and we've got
lots to do."

The chauffeur sprang to his seat, Appleson taking his place beside
him. The motor-cycle was tied on behind the big touring car, and
with the unconscious form of Tom in the tonneau, beside Morse, who
stroked his mustache nervously, the auto started off. The storm had
passed, and the sun was shining brightly, but Tom could not see it.



Several hours later Tom had a curious dream. He imagined he was
wandering about in the polar regions, and that it was very cold. He
was trying to reason with himself that he could not possibly be on
an expedition searching for the North Pole, still he felt such a
keen wind blowing over his scantily-covered body that he shivered.
He shivered so hard, in fact, that he shivered himself awake, and
when he tried to pierce the darkness that enveloped him he was
startled, for a moment, with the idea that perhaps, after all, he
had wandered off to some unknown country.

For it was quite dark and cold. He was in a daze, and there was a
curious smell about him--an odor that he tried to recall. Then, all
at once, it came to him what it was--chloroform. Once his father had
undergone an operation, and to deaden his pain chloroform had been

"I've been chloroformed!" exclaimed the young inventor, and his
words sounded strange in his ears. "That's it. I've met with an
accident riding my motor-cycle. I must have hit my head, for it
hurts fearful. They picked me up, carried me to a hospital and have
operated on me. I wonder if they took off an arm or leg? I wonder
what hospital I'm in? Why is it so dark and cold?"

As he asked himself these questions his brain gradually cleared from
the haze caused by the cowardly blow, and from the chloroform that
had been administered by Featherton.

Tom's first act was to feel first of one arm, then the other. Having
satisfied himself that neither of these members were mutilated he
reached down to his legs.

"Why, they're all right, too," he murmured. "I wonder what they did
to me? That's certainly, chloroform I smell, and my head feels as if
some one had sat on it. I wonder--"

Quickly he put up his hands to his head. There appeared to be
nothing the matter with it, save that there was quite a lump on the
back, where the club had struck.

"I seem to be all here," went on Tom, much mystified. "But where am
I? That's the question. It's a funny hospital, so cold and dark--"

Just then his hands came in contact with the cold ground on which he
was lying.

"Why, I'm outdoors!" he exclaimed. Then in a flash it all came back
to him--how he had gone to wait under the church shed until the rain
was over.

"I fell asleep, and now it's night," the youth went on. "No wonder I
am sore and stiff. And that chloroform--" He could not account for
that, and he paused, puzzled once more. Then he struggled to a
sitting position. His head was strangely dizzy, but he persisted,
and got to his feet. He could see nothing, and groped around In the
dark, until he thought to strike a match. Fortunately he had a
number in his pocket. As the little flame flared up Tom started in

"This isn't the church shed!" he exclaimed. "It's much smaller! I'm
in a different place! Great Scott! but what has happened to me?"

The match burned Tom's fingers and he dropped it. The darkness
closed in once more, but Tom was used to it by this time, and
looking ahead of him he could make out that the shed was an open
one, similar to the one where he had taken shelter. He could see the
sky studded with stars, and could feel the cold night wind blowing

"My motor-cycle!" he exclaimed in alarm. "The model of dad's
invention--the papers!"

Our hero thrust his hand into his pocket. The papers were gone!
Hurriedly he lighted another match. It took but an instant to glance
rapidly about the small shed. His machine was not in sight!

Tom felt his heart sink. After all his precautions he had been
robbed. The precious model was gone, and it had been his proposition
to take it to Albany in this manner. What would his father say?

The lad lighted match after match, and made a rapid tour of the
shed. The motor-cycle was not to be seen. But what puzzled Tom more
than anything else was how he had been brought from the church shed
to the one where he had awakened from his stupor.

"Let me try to think," said the boy, speaking aloud, for it seemed
to help him. "The last I remember is seeing that automobile, with
those mysterious men in, approaching. Then it disappeared in the
rain. I thought I heard it again, but I couldn't see it. I was
sitting on the log, and--and--well, that's all I can remember. I
wonder if those men--"

The young inventor paused. Like a flash it came to him that the men
were responsible for his predicament. They had somehow made him
insensible, stolen his motor-cycle, the papers and the model, and
then brought him to this place, wherever it was. Tom was a shrewd
reasoner, and he soon evolved a theory which he afterward learned
was the correct one. He reasoned out almost every step in the crime
of which he was the victim, and at last came to the conclusion that
the men had stolen up behind the shed and attacked him.

"Now, the next question to settle," spoke Tom, "is to learn where I
am. How far did those scoundrels carry me, and what has become of my

He walked toward the point of the shed where he could observe the
stars gleaming, and there he lighted some more matches, hoping he
might see his machine. By the gleam of the little flame he noted
that he was in a farmyard, and he was just puzzling his brain over
the question as to what city or town he might be near when he heard
a voice shouting:

"Here, what you lightin' them matches for? You want to set the place
afire? Who be you, anyhow--a tramp?"

It was unmistakably the voice of a farmer, and Tom could hear
footsteps approaching on the run.

"Who be you, anyhow?" the voice repeated. "I'll have the constable
after you in a jiffy if you're a tramp."

"I'm not a tramp," called Tom promptly. "I've met with an accident.
Where am I?"

"Humph! Mighty funny if you don't know where you are," commented the
farmer. "Jed, bring a lantern until I take a look at who this is."

"All right, pop," answered another voice, and a moment later Tom saw
a tall man standing in front of him.

"I'll give you a look at me without waiting for the lantern," said
Tom quickly, and he struck a match, holding it so that the gleam
fell upon his face.

"Salt mackerel! It's a young feller!" exclaimed the farmer. "Who be
you, anyhow, and what you doin' here?"

"That's just what I would like to know," said Tom, passing his hand
over his head, which was still paining him. "Am I near Albany?
That's where I started for this morning."

"Albany? You're a good way from Albany," replied the farmer. "You're
in the village of Dunkirk."

"How far is that from Centreford?"

"About seventy miles."

"As far as that?" cried Tom. "They must have carried me a good way
in their automobile."

"Was you in that automobile?" demanded the farmer.

"Which one?" asked Tom quickly.

"The one that stopped down the road just before supper. I see it,
but I didn't pay no attention to it. If I'd 'a' knowed you fell out,
though, I'd 'a' come to help you."

"I didn't fall out, Mr.--er--" Tom paused.

"Blackford is my name; Amos Blackford."

"Well, Mr. Blackford, I didn't fall out. I was drugged and brought

"Drugged! Salt mackerel! But there's been a crime committed, then.
Jed, hurry up with that lantern an' git your deputy sheriff's badge
on. There's been druggin' an' all sorts of crimes committed. I've
caught one of the victims. Hurry up! My son's a deputy sheriff," he
added, by way of an explanation.

"Then I hope he can help me catch the scoundrels who robbed me,"
said Tom.

"Robbed you, did they? Hurry up, Jed. There's been a robbery! We'll
rouse the neighborhood an' search for the villains. Hurry up, Jed!"

"I'd rather find my motor-cycle, and a valuable model which was on
it, than locate those men," went on Tom. "They also took some papers
from me."

Then he told how he had started for Albany, adding his theory of how
he had been attacked and carried away in the auto. The latter part
of it was borne out by the testimony of Mr. Blackford.

"What I know about it," said the farmer, when his son Jed had
arrived on the scene with a lantern and his badge, "is that jest
about supper time I saw an automobile stop down the road a bit, It
was gittin' dusk, an' I saw some men git out. I didn't pay no
attention to them, 'cause I was busy about the milkin'. The next I
knowed I seen some one strikin' matches in my wagon shed, an' I come
out to see what it was."

"The men must have brought me all the way from the church shed near
Centreford to here," declared Tom. "Then they lifted me out and put
me in your shed. Maybe they left my motor-cycle also."

"I didn't see nothin' like that," said the farmer. "Is that what you
call one of them two-wheeled lickity-split things that a man sits on
the middle of an' goes like chain-lightning?"

"It is," said Tom. "I wish you'd help me look for it."

The farmer and his son agreed, and other lanterns having been
secured, a search was made. After about half an hour the motor-cycle
was discovered in some bushes at the side of the road, near where
the automobile had stopped. But the model was missing from it, and a
careful search near where the machine had been hidden did not reveal
it. Nor did as careful a hunt as they could make in the darkness
disclose any dues to the scoundrels who had drugged and robbed Tom.



"We've got to organize a regular searchin' party," declared Jed
Blackford, after he and his father, together with Tom and the
farmer's hired man, had searched up and down the road by the light
of lanterns. "We'll organize a posse an' have a regular hunt. This
is the worst crime that's been committed in this deestrict in many
years, an' I'm goin' to run the scoundrels to earth."

"Don't be talkin' nonsense, Jed," interrupted his father. "You won't
catch them fellers in a hundred years. They're miles an' miles away
from here by this time in their automobile. All you can do is to
notify the sheriff. I guess we'd better give this young man some
attention. Let's see, you said your name was Quick, didn't you?"

"No, but it's very similar," answered Tom with a smile. "It's

"I knowed it was something had to do with speed," went on Mr.
Blackford. "Wa'al, now, s'pose you come in the house an' have a hot
cup of tea. You look sort of draggled out."

Tom was glad enough to avail himself of the kind invitation, and he
was soon in the comfortable kitchen, relating his story, with more
detail, to the farmer and his family. Mrs. Blackford applied some
home-made remedies to the lump on the youth's head, and it felt much

"I'd like to take a look at my motor-cycle," he said, after his
second cup of tea. "I want to see if those men damaged it any. If
they have I'm going to have trouble getting back home to tell my
father of my bad luck. Poor dad! He will be very much worried when I
tell him the model and his patent papers have been stolen."

"It's too bad!" exclaimed Mrs. Blackford. "I wish I had hold of them
scoundrels!" and her usually gentle face bore a severe frown. "Of
course you can have your thing-a-ma-bob in to see if it's hurt, but
please don't start it in here. They make a terrible racket."

"No, I'll look it over in the woodshed," promised Tom. "If it's all
right I think I'll start back home at once."

"No, you can't do that," declared Mr. Blackford. "You're in no
condition to travel. You might fall off an' git hurt. It's nearly ten
o'clock now. You jest stay here all night, an' in the mornin', if you
feel all right, you can start off. I couldn't let you go to-night."

Indeed, Tom did not feel very much like undertaking the journey, for
the blow on his head had made him dazed, and the chloroform caused a
sick feeling. Mr. Blackford wheeled the motor-cycle into the
woodhouse, which opened from the kitchen, and there the youth went
over the machine. He was glad to find that it had sustained no
damage. In the meanwhile Jed had gone off to tell the startling news
to near-by farmers. Quite a throng, with lanterns, went up and down
the road, but all the evidence they could find were the marks of the
automobile wheels, which clues were not very satisfactory.

"But we'll catch them in the mornin'," declared the deputy sheriff.
"I'll know that automobile again if I see it. It was painted red."

"That's the color of a number of automobiles," said Tom with a
smile. "I'm afraid you'll have trouble identifying it by that means.
I am surprised, though, that they did not carry my motor-cycle away
with them. It is a valuable machine."

"They were afraid to," declared Jed. "It would look queer to see a
machine like that in an auto. Of course when they were going along
country roads in the evening it didn't much matter, but when they
headed for the city, as they probably did, they knew it would
attract suspicion to 'em. I know, for I've been a deputy sheriff
'most a year."

"I believe you're right," agreed Tom. "They didn't dare take the
motor-cycle with them, but they hid it, hoping I would not find it.
I'd rather have the model and the papers, though, than half a dozen

"Maybe the police will help you find them," said Mrs. Blackford.
"Jed, you must telephone to the police the first thing in the
morning. It's a shame the way criminals are allowed to go on. If
honest people did those things, they'd be arrested in a minute, but
it seems that scoundrels can do as they please."

"You wait; I'll catch 'em!" declared Jed confidently. "I'll organize
another posse in the mornin'."

"Well, I know one thing, and that is that the place for this young
man is in bed!" exclaimed motherly Mrs. Blackford, and she insisted
on Tom retiring. He was somewhat restless at first, and the thought
of the loss of the model and the papers preyed on his mind. Then,
utterly exhausted, he sank into a heavy slumber, and did not awaken
until the sun was shining in his window the next morning. A good
breakfast made him feel somewhat better, and he was more like the
resourceful Tom Swift of old when he went to get his motor-cycle in
shape for the ride back to Shopton.

"Well, I hope you find those criminals," said Mr. Blackford, as he
watched Tom oiling the machine. "If you're ever out this way again,
stop off and see us."

"Yes, do," urged Mrs. Blackford, who was getting ready to churn. Her
husband looked at the old-fashioned barrel and dasher arrangement,
which she was filling with cream.

"What's the matter with the new churn?" he asked in some surprise.

"It's broken," she replied. "It's always the way with those new-
fangled things. It works ever so much nicer than this old one,
though," she went on to Tom, "but it gets out of order easy."

"Let me look at it," suggested the young inventor. "I know something
about machinery."

The churn, which worked by a system of cogs and a handle, was
brought from the woodshed. Tom soon saw what the trouble was. One of
the cogs had become displaced. It did not take him five minutes,
with the tools he carried on his motor-cycle, to put it back, and
the churn was ready to use.

"Well, I declare!" exclaimed Mrs. Blackford. "You are handy at such

"Oh, it's just a knack," replied Tom modestly. "Now I'll put a plug
in there, and the cog wheel won't come loose again. The
manufacturers of it ought to have done that. I imagine lots of
people have this same trouble with these churns."

"Indeed they do," asserted Mrs. Blackford. "Sallie Armstrong has
one, and it got out of order the first week they had it. I'll let
her look at mine, and maybe her husband can fix it."

"I'd go and do it myself, but I want to get home," said Tom, and
then he showed her how, by inserting a small iron plug in a certain
place, there would be no danger of the cog coming loose again.

"That's certainly slick!" exclaimed Mr. Blackford. "Well, I wish you
good luck, Mr. Swift, and if I see those scoundrels around this
neighborhood again I'll make 'em wish they'd let you alone."

"That's what," added Jed, polishing his badge with his big, red

Mrs. Blackford transferred the cream to the new churn which Tom had
fixed, and as he rode off down the highway on his motor-cycle, she
waved one hand to him, while with the other she operated the handle
of the apparatus.

"Now for a quick run to Shopton to tell dad the bad news," spoke Tom
to himself as he turned on full speed and dashed away. "My trip has
been a failure so far."



Tom was thinking of many things as his speedy machine carried him
mile after mile nearer home. By noon he was over half way on his
journey, and he stopped in a small village for his dinner.

"I think I'll make inquiries of the police here, to see if they
caught sight of those men," decided Tom as he left the restaurant.
"Though I am inclined to believe they kept on to Albany, or some
large city, where they have their headquarters. They will want to
make use of dad's model as soon as possible, though what they will
do with it I don't know." He tried to telephone to his father, but
could get no connection, as the wire was being repaired.

The police force of the place where Tom had stopped for lunch was
like the town itself--small and not of much consequence. The chief
constable, for he was not what one could call a chief of police, had
heard of the matter from the alarm sent out in all directions from
Dunkirk, where Mr. Blackford lived.

"You don't mean to tell me you're the young man who was chloroformed
and robbed!" exclaimed the constable, looking at Tom as if he
doubted his word.

"I'm the young man," declared our hero. "Have you seen anything of
the thieves?"

"Not a thing, though I've instructed all my men to keep a sharp
lookout for a red automobile, with three scoundrels in it. My men
are to make an arrest on sight."

"How many men have you?"

"Two," was the rather surprising answer; "but one has to work on a
farm daytimes, so I ain't really got but one in what you might call
active service."

Tom restrained a desire to laugh. At any rate, the aged constable
meant well.

"One of my men seen a red automobile, a little while before you come
in my office," went on the official, "but it wasn't the one wanted,
'cause a young woman was running it all alone. It struck me as
rather curious that a woman would trust herself all alone in one of
them things; wouldn't it you?"

"Oh, no, women and young ladies often operate them," said Tom.

"I should think you'd find one handier than the two-wheeled
apparatus you have out there," went on the constable, indicating the
motor-cycle, which Tom had stood up against a tree.

"I may have one some day," replied the young inventor. "But I guess
I'll be moving on now. Here's my address, in case you hear anything
of those men, but I don't imagine you will."

"Me either. Fellows as slick as them are won't come back this way
and run the chance of being arrested by my men. I have two on duty
nights," he went on proudly, "besides myself, so you see we're
pretty well protected."

Tom thanked him for the trouble he had taken, and was soon on his
way again. He swept on along the quiet country roads anxious for the
time when he could consult with his father over what would be the
best course to take.

When Tom was about a mile away from his house he saw in the road
ahead of him a rickety old wagon, and a second glance at it told him
the outfit belonged to Eradicate Sampson, for the animal drawing the
vehicle was none other than the mule, Boomerang.

"But what in the world is Rad up to?" mused Tom, for the colored man
was out of the wagon and was going up and down in the grass at the
side of the highway in a curious fashion. "I guess he's lost
something," decided Tom.

When he got nearer he saw what Eradicate was doing. The colored man
was pushing a lawn-mower slowly to and fro in the tall, rank grass
that grew beside the thoroughfare, and at the sound of Tom's
motor-cycle the negro looked up. There was such a woe-begone
expression on his face that Tom at once stopped his machine and got

"What's the matter, Rad?" Tom asked.

"Mattah, Mistah Swift? Why, dere's a pow'ful lot de mattah, an'
dat's de truff. I'se been swindled, dat's what I has."

"Swindled? How?"

"Well, it's dis-a-way. Yo' see dis yeah lawn-moah?"

"Yes; it doesn't seem to work," and Tom glanced critically at it. As
Eradicate pushed it slowly to and fro, the blades did not revolve,
and the wheels slipped along on the grass.

"No, sah, it doan't work, an' dat's how I've been swindled, Mistah
Swift. Yo' see, I done traded mah ole grindstone off for dis yeah
lawn-moah, an' I got stuck."

"What, that old grindstone that was broken in two, and that you
fastened together with concrete?" asked Tom, for he had seen the
outfit with which Eradicate, in spare times between cleaning and
whitewashing, had gone about the country, sharpening knives and
scissors. "You don't mean that old, broken one?"

"Dat's what I mean, Mistah Swift. Why, it was all right. I mended it
so dat de break wouldn't show, an' it would sharpen things if yo'
run it slow. But dis yeah lawn-moah won't wuk slow ner fast."

"I guess it was an even exchange, then," went on Tom. "You didn't
get bitten any worse than the other fellow did."

"Yo' doan't s'pose yo' kin fix dis yeah moah so's I kin use it, does
yo', Mistah Swift?" asked Eradicate, not bothering to go into the
ethics of the matter. "I reckon now with summah comin' on I kin make
mo' with a lawn-moah than I kin with a grindstone--dat is, ef I kin
git it to wuk. I jest got it a while ago an' decided to try it, but
it won't cut no grass."

"I haven't much time," said Tom, "for I'm anxious to get home, but
I'll take a look at it."

Tom leaned his motor-cycle against the fence. He could no more pass
a bit of broken machinery, which he thought he could mend, than some
men and boys can pass by a baseball game without stopping to watch
it, no matter how pressed they are for time. It was Tom's hobby, and
he delighted in nothing so much as tinkering with machines, from
lawn-mowers to steam engines.

Tom took hold of the handle, which Eradicate gladly relinquished to
him, and his trained touch told him at once what was the trouble.

"Some one has had the wheels off and put them on wrong, Rad," he
said. "The ratchet and pawl are reversed. This mower would work
backwards, if that were possible."

"Am dat so, Mistah Swift?"

"That's it. All I have to do is to take off the wheels and reverse
the pawl."

"I--I didn't know mah lawn-moah was named Paul," said the colored
man. "Is it writ on it anywhere?"

"No, it's not the kind of Paul you mean," said Tom with a laugh.
"It's spelled differently. A pawl is a sort of catch that fits into
a ratchet wheel and pushes it around, or it may be used as a catch
to prevent the backward motion of a windlass or the wheel on a
derrick. I'll have it fixed in a jiffy for you."

Tom worked rapidly. With a monkey-wrench he removed the two big
wheels of the lawn-mower and reversed the pawl in the cogs. In five
minutes he had replaced the wheels, and the machine, except for
needed sharpening, did good work.

"There you are, Rad!" exclaimed Tom at length.

"Yo' suah am a wonder at inventin'!" cried the colored man
gratefully. "I'll cut yo' grass all summah fo' yo' to pay fo' this,
Mistah Swift."

"Oh, that's too much. I didn't do a great deal, Rad."

"Well, yo' saved me from bein' swindled, Mistah Swift, an' I suah
does 'preciate dat."

"How about the fellow you traded the cracked grindstone to, Rad?"

"Oh, well, ef he done run it slow it won't fly apart, an' he'll do
dat, anyhow, fo' he suah am a lazy coon. I guess we am about even
there, Mistah Swift."

"All right," spoke Tom with a laugh. "Sharpen it up, Rad, and start
in to cut grass. It will soon be summer," and Tom, leaping upon his
motor-cycle, was off like a shot.

He found his father in his library, reading a book on scientific
matters. Mr. Swift looked up in surprise at seeing his son.

"What! Back so soon?" he asked. "You did make a flying trip. Did you
give the model and papers to Mr. Crawford?"

"No, dad, I was robbed yesterday. Those scoundrels got ahead of us,
after all. They have your model. I tried to telephone to you, but
the wires were down, or something."

"What!" cried Mr. Swift. "Oh, Tom! That's too bad! I will lose ten
thousand dollars if I can't get that model and those papers back!"
and with a despairing gesture Mr. Swift rose and began to pace the



Tom watched his father anxiously. The young inventor knew the loss
had been a heavy one, and he blamed himself for not having been more

"Tell me all about it, Tom," said Mr. Swift at length. "Are you sure
the model and papers are gone? How did it happen?"

Then Tom related what had befallen him.

"Oh, that's too bad!" cried Mr. Swift. "Are you much hurt, Tom?
Shall I send for the doctor?" For the time being his anxiety over
his son was greater than that concerning his loss.

"No, indeed, dad. I'm all right now. I got a bad blow on the head,
but Mrs. Blackford fixed me up. I'm awfully sorry---"

"There, there! Now don't say another word," interrupted Mr. Swift.
"It wasn't your fault. It might have happened to me. I dare say it
would, for those scoundrels seemed very determined. They are
desperate, and will stop at nothing to make good the loss they
sustained on the patent motor they exploited. Now they will probably
try to make use of my model and papers."

"Do you think they'll do that, dad?"

"Yes. They will either make a motor exactly like mine, or construct
one so nearly similar that it will answer their purpose. I will have
no redress against them, as my patent is not fully granted yet. Mr.
Crawford was to attend to that."

"Can't you do anything to stop them, dad? File an injunction, or
something like that?"

"I don't know. I must see Mr. Crawford at once. I wonder if he could
come here? He might be able to advise me. I have had very little
experience with legal difficulties. My specialty is in other lines
of work. But I must do something. Every moment is valuable. I wonder
who the men were?"

"I'm sure one of them was the same man who came here that night--the
man with the black mustache, who dropped the telegram," said Tom. "I
had a pretty good look at him as the auto passed me, and I'm sure it
was he. Of course I didn't see who it was that struck me down, but I
imagine it was some one of the same gang."

"Very likely. Well, Tom, I must do something. I suppose I might
telegraph to Mr. Crawford--he will be expecting you in Albany--" Mr.
Swift paused musingly. "No, I have it!" he suddenly exclaimed. "I'll
go to Albany myself."

"Go to Albany, dad?"

"Yes; I must explain everything to the lawyers and then he can
advise me what to do. Fortunately I have some papers, duplicates of
those you took, which I can show him. Of course the originals will
be necessary before I can prove my claim. The loss of the model is
the most severe, however. Without that I can do little. But I will
have Mr. Crawford take whatever steps are possible. I'll take the
night train, Tom. I'll have to leave you to look after matters here,
and I needn't caution you to be on your guard, though, having got
what they were after, I fancy those financiers, or their tools, will
not bother us again."

"Very likely not," agreed Tom, "but I will keep my eyes open, just
the same. Oh, but that reminds me, dad. Did you see anything of a
tramp around here while I was away?"

"A tramp? No; but you had better ask Mrs. Baggert. She usually
attends to them. She's so kind-hearted that she frequently gives
them a good meal."

The housekeeper, when consulted, said that no tramps had applied in
the last few days.

"Why do you ask, Tom?" inquired his father.

"Because I had an experience with one, and I believe he was a member
of the same gang who robbed me." And thereupon Tom told of his
encounter with Happy Harry, and how the latter had broken the wire
on the motor-cycle.

"You had a narrow escape," commented Mr. Swift. "If I had known the
dangers involved I would never have allowed you to take the model to

"Well, I didn't take it there, after all," said Tom with a grim
smile, for he could appreciate a joke.

"I must hurry and pack my valise," went on Mr. Swift. "Mrs. Baggert,
we will have an early supper, and I will start at once for Albany."

"I wish I could go with you, dad, to make up for the trouble I
caused," spoke Tom.

"Tut, tut! Don't talk that way," advised his father kindly. "I will
be glad of the trip. It will ease my mind to be doing something."

Tom felt rather lonesome after his father had left, but he laid out
a plan of action for himself that he thought would keep him occupied
until his father returned. In the first place he made a tour of the
house and various machine shops to see that doors and windows were
securely fastened.

"What's the matter? Do you expect burglars, Master Tom?" asked
Garret Jackson, the aged engineer.

"Well, Garret, you never can tell," replied the young inventor, as
he told of his experience and the necessity for Mr. Swift going to
Albany. "Some of those scoundrels, finding how easy it was to rob
me, may try it again, and get some at dad's other valuable models.
I'm taking no chances."

"That's right, Master Tom. I'll keep steam up in the boiler to-night,
though we don't really need it, as your father told me you would
probably not run any machinery when he was gone. But with a good head
of steam up, and a hose handy, I can give any burglars a hot
reception. I almost wish they'd come, so I could get square with

"I don't, Garret. Well, I guess everything is in good shape. If you
hear anything unusual, or the alarm goes off during the night, call

"I will, Master Tom," and the old engineer, who had a living-room in
a shack adjoining the boiler-room, locked the door after Tom left.

The young inventor spent the early evening in attaching a new wire
to his motor-cycle to replace the one he had purchased while on his
disastrous trip. The temporary one was not just the proper thing,
though it answered well enough. then, having done some work on a new
boat propeller he was contemplating patenting, Tom felt that it was
time to go to bed, as he was tired. He made a second round of the
house, looking to doors and windows, until Mrs. Baggert exclaimed:

"Oh, Tom, do stop! You make me nervous, going around that way. I'm
sure I shan't sleep a wink to-night, thinking of burglars and

Tom laughingly desisted, and went up to his room. He sat up a few
minutes, writing a letter to a girl of his acquaintance, for, in
spite of the fact that the young inventor was very busy with his own
and his father's work, he found time for lighter pleasures. Then, as
his eyes seemed determined to close of their own accord, if he did
not let them, he tumbled into bed.

Tom fancied it was nearly morning when he suddenly awoke with a
start. He heard a noise, and at first he could not locate it. Then
his trained ear traced it to the dining-room.

"Why, Mrs. Baggert must be getting breakfast, and is rattling the
dishes," he thought. "But why is she up so early?"

It was quite dark in Tom's room, save for a little gleam from the
crescent moon, and by the light of this Tom arose and looked at his

"Two o'clock," he whispered. "That can't be Mrs. Baggert, unless
she's sick, and got up to take some medicine."

He listened intently. Below, in the dining-room, he could hear
stealthy movements.

"Mrs. Baggert would never move around like that," he decided. "She's
too heavy. I wonder--it's a burglar--one of the gang has gotten in!"
he exclaimed in tense tones. "I'm going to catch him at it!"

Hurriedly he slipped on some clothes, and then, having softly turned
on the electric light in his room, he took from a corner a small
rifle, which he made sure was loaded. Then, having taken a small
electric flashlight, of the kind used by police men, and sometimes
by burglars, he started on tiptoe toward the lower floor.

As Tom softly descended the stairs he could more plainly hear the
movements of the intruder. He made out now that the burglar was in
Mr. Swift's study, which opened from the dining-room.

"He's after dad's papers!" thought Tom. "I wonder which one this

The youth had often gone hunting in the woods, and he knew how to
approach cautiously. Thus he was able to reach the door of the
dining-room without being detected. He had no need to flash his
light, for the intruder was doing that so frequently with one he
carried that Tom could see him perfectly. The fellow was working at
the safe in which Mr. Swift kept his more valuable papers.

Softly, very softly Tom brought his rifle to bear on the back of the
thief. Then, holding the weapon with one hand, for it was very
light, Tom extended the electric flash, so that the glare would be
thrown on the intruder and would leave his own person in the black
shadows. Pressing the spring which caused the lantern to throw out a
powerful glow, Tom focused the rays on the kneeling man.

"That will be about all!" the youth exclaimed in as steady a voice
as he could manage.

The burglar turned like a flash, and Tom had a glimpse of his face.
It was the tramp--Happy Harry--whom he had encountered on the lonely



Tom held his rifle in readiness, though he only intended it as a
means of intimidation, and would not have fired at the burglar
except to save his own life. But the sight of the weapon was enough
for the tramp. He crouched motionless. His own light had gone out,
but by the gleam of the electric he carried Tom could see that the
man had in his hand some tool with which he had been endeavoring to
force the safe.

"I guess you've got me!" exclaimed the intruder, and there was in
his tones no trace of the tramp dialect.

"It looks like it," agreed Tom grimly. "Are you a tramp now, or in
some other disguise?"

"Can't you see?" asked the fellow sullenly, and then Tom did notice
that the man still had on his tramp make-up.

"What do you want?" asked Tom.

"Hard to tell." replied the burglar calmly. "I hadn't got the safe
open before you came down and disturbed me. I'm after money,

"No, you're not!" exclaimed Tom.

"What's that?" and the man seemed surprised.

"No, you're not!" went on Tom, and he held his rifle in readiness.
"You're after the patent papers and the model of the turbine motor.
But it's gone. Your confederates got it away from me. They probably
haven't told you yet, and you're still on the hunt for it. You'll
not get it, but I've got you."

"So I see," admitted Happy Harry, and he spoke with some culture.
"If you don't mind," he went on, "would you just as soon move that
gun a little? It's pointing right at my head, and it might go off."

"It is going off--very soon!" exclaimed Tom grimly, and the tramp
started in alarm. "Oh, I'm not going to shoot you," continued the
young inventor. "I'm going to fire this as an alarm, and the
engineer will come in here and tie you up. Then I'm going to hand
you over to the police. This rifle is a repeater, and I am a pretty
good shot. I'm going to fire once now, to summon assistance, and if
you try to get away I'll be ready to fire a second time, and that
won't be so comfortable for you. I've caught you, and I'm going to
hold on to you until I get that model and those papers back."

"Oh, you are, eh?" asked the burglar calmly. "Well, all I've got to
say is that you have grit. Go ahead. I'm caught good and proper. I
was foolish to come in here, but I thought I'd take a chance."

"Who are you, anyhow? Who are the men working with you to defraud my
father of his rights?" asked Tom somewhat bitterly.

"I'll never tell you," answered the burglar. "I was hired to do
certain work, and that's all there is to it. I'm not going to peach
on my pals."

"We'll see about that!" burst out Tom. Then he noticed that a
dining-room window behind where the burglar was kneeling was open.
Doubtless the intruder had entered that way, and intended to escape
in the same manner.

"I'm going to shoot," announced Tom, and, aiming his rifle at the
open window, where the bullet would do no damage, he pressed the
trigger. He noticed that the burglar was crouching low down on the
floor, but Tom thought nothing of this at the time. He imagined that
Happy Harry--or whatever his name was--might be afraid of getting

There was a flash of fire and a deafening report as Tom fired. The
cloud of smoke obscured his vision for a moment, and as the echoes
died away Tom could hear Mrs. Baggert screaming in her room.

"It's all right!" cried the young inventor reassuringly. "No one is
hurt, Mrs. Baggert!" Then he flashed his light on the spot where the
burglar had crouched. As the smoke rolled away Tom peered in vain
for a sight of the intruder.

Happy Harry was gone!

Holding his rifle in readiness, in case he should be attacked from
some unexpected quarter, Tom strode forward. He flashed his light in
every direction. There was no doubt about it. The intruder had fled.
Taking advantage of the noise when the gun was fired, and under
cover of the smoke, the burglar had leaped from the open window. Tom
guessed as much. He hurried to the casement and peered out, at the
same time noticing the cut wire of the burglar alarm. It was quite
dark, and he fancied he could hear the noise of some one running
rapidly. Aiming his rifle into the air, he fired again, at the same
time crying out:

"Hold on!"

"All right, Master Tom, I'm coming!" called the voice of the
engineer from his shack. "Are you hurt? Is Mrs. Baggert murdered? I
hear her screaming."

"That's pretty good evidence that she isn't murdered," said Tom with
a grim smile.

"Are you hurt?" again called Mr. Jackson.

"No, I'm all right," answered Tom. "Did you see any one running away
as you came up?"

"No, Master Tom, I didn't. What happened?"

"A burglar got in, and I had him cornered, but he got away when I
fired to arouse you."

By this time the engineer was at the stoop, on which the window
opened. Tom unlocked a side door and admitted Mr. Jackson, and then,
the incandescent light having been turned on, the two looked around
the apartment. Nothing in it had been disturbed, and the safe had
not been opened.

"I heard him just in time," commented Tom, telling the engineer what
had happened. "I wish I had thought to get between him and the
window. Then he couldn't have gotten away."

"He might have injured you, though," said Mr. Jackson. "We'll go
outside now, and look--"

"Is any one killed? Are you both murdered?" cried Mrs. Baggert at
the dining-room door. "If any one is killed I'm not coming in there.
I can't bear the sight of blood."

"No one is hurt," declared Tom with a laugh. "Come on in, Mrs.
Baggert," and the housekeeper entered, her hair all done up in curl

"Oh, my goodness me!" she exclaimed. "When I heard that cannon go
off I was sure the house was coming down. How is it some one wasn't

"That wasn't a cannon; it was only my little rifle," said Tom, and
then he told again, for the benefit of the housekeeper, the story of
what had happened.

"We'd better hurry and look around the premises," suggested Mr.
Jackson. "Maybe he is hiding, and will come back, or perhaps he has
some confederates on the watch."

"Not much danger of that," declared Tom. "Happy Harry is far enough
away from here now, and so are his confederates, if he had any,

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