Part 3 out of 3
which I doubt. Still, it will do no harm to take a look around."
A search resulted in nothing, however, and the Swift household had
soon settled down again, though no one slept soundly during the
remainder of the night.
In the morning Tom sent word of what had happened to the police of
Shopton. Some officers came out to the house, but, beyond looking
wisely at the window by which the burglar had entered and at some
footprints in the garden, they could do nothing. Tom wanted to go
off on his motor-cycle on a tour of the surrounding neighborhood to
see if he could get any clues, but he did not think it would be wise
in the absence of his father. He thought it would be better to
remain at home, in case any further efforts were made to get
possession of valuable models or papers.
"There's not much likelihood of that, though," said Tom to the old
engineer. "Those fellows have what they want, and are not going to
bother us again. I would like to get that model back for dad,
though. If they file it and take out a patent, even if he can prove
that it is his, it will mean a long lawsuit and he may be defrauded
of his rights, after all. Possession is nine points of the law, and
part of the tenth, too, I guess."
So Tom remained at home and busied himself as well as he could over
some new machines he was constructing. He got a telegram from his
father that afternoon, stating that Mr. Swift had safely arrived in
Albany, and would return the following day.
"Did you have any luck, dad?" asked the young inventor, when his
father, tired and worn from the unaccustomed traveling, reached home
in the evening.
"Not much, Tom," was the reply. "Mr. Crawford has gone back to
Washington, and he is going to do what he can to prevent those men
taking advantage of me."
"Did you get any trace of the thieves? Does Mr. Crawford think he
"No to both questions. His idea is that the men will remain in
hiding for a while, and then, when the matter has quieted down, they
will proceed to get a patent on the motor that I invented."
"But, in the meanwhile, can't you make another model and get a
"No; there are certain legal difficulties in the way. Besides, those
men have the original papers I need. As for the model, it will take
me nearly a year to build a new one that will work properly, as it
is very complicated. I am afraid, Tom, that all my labor on the
turbine motor is thrown away. Those scoundrels will reap the benefit
"Oh, I hope not, dad! I'm sure those fellows will be caught. Now
that you are back home again, I'm going out on a hunt on my own
account. I don't put much faith in the police. It was through me,
dad, that you lost your model and the papers, and I'll get them
"No, you must not think it was your fault, Tom," said his father.
"You could not help it, though I appreciate your desire to recover
the missing model."
"And I'll do it, too, dad. I'll start to-morrow, and I'll make a
complete circuit of the country for a hundred miles around. I can
easily do it on my motor-cycle. If I can't get on the trail of the
three men who robbed me, maybe I can find Happy Harry."
"I doubt it, my son. Still, you may try. Now I must write to Mr.
Crawford and tell him about the attempted burglary while I was away.
It may give him a clue to work on. I'm afraid you ran quite a risk,
"I didn't think about that, dad. I only wish I had managed to keep
that rascal a prisoner."
The next day Tom started off on a hunt. He planned to be gone
overnight, as he intended to go first to Dunkirk, where Mr.
Blackford lived, and begin his search from there.
ERADICATE SAWS WOOD
The farmer's family, including the son who was a deputy sheriff, was
glad to see Tom. Jed said he had "been on the job" ever since the
mysterious robbery of Tom had taken place, but though he had seen
many red automobiles he had no trace of the three men.
From Dunkirk Tom went back over the route he had taken in going from
Pompville to Centreford, and made some inquiries in the neighborhood
of the church shed, where he had taken shelter. The locality was
sparsely settled, however, and no one could give any clues to the
The young inventor next made a trip over the lonely, sandy road,
where he had met with the tramp, Happy Harry. But there were even
fewer houses near that stretch than around the church, so he got no
satisfaction there. Tom spent the night at a country inn, and
resumed his search the next morning, but with no results. The men
had apparently completely disappeared, leaving no traces behind
"I may as well go home," thought Tom, as he was riding his motor-cycle
along a pleasant country road. "Dad may be worried, and perhaps
something has turned up in Shopton that will aid me. If there isn't,
I'm going to start out again in a few days in another direction."
There was no news in Shopton, however. Town found his father
scarcely able to work, so worried was he over the loss of his most
Two weeks passed, the young machinist taking trips of several days'
duration to different points near his home, in the hope of
discovering something. But he was unsuccessful, and, in the
meanwhile, no reassuring word was received from the lawyers in
Washington. Mr. Crawford wrote that no move had yet been made by the
thieves to take out patent papers, and while this, in a sense, was
some aid to Mr. Swift, still he could not proceed on his own account
to protect his new motor. All that could be done was to await the
first movement on the part of the scoundrels.
"I think I'll try a new plan to-morrow, dad," announced Tom one
night, when he and his father had talked over again, for perhaps the
twentieth time, the happenings of the last few weeks.
"What is it, Tom?" asked the inventor.
"Well, I think I'll take a week's trip on my machine. I'll visit all
the small towns around here, but, instead of asking in houses for
news of the tramp or his confederates, I'll go to the police and
constables. I'll ask if they have arrested any tramps recently, and,
if they have, I'll ask them to let me see the 'hobo' prisoners."
"What good will that do?"
"I'll tell you. I have an idea that though the burglar who got in
here may not be a regular tramp, yet he disguises himself like one
at times, and may be known to other tramps. If I can get on the
trail of Happy Harry, as he calls himself, I may locate the other
men. Tramps would be very likely to remember such a peculiar chap as
Happy Harry, and they will tell me where they had last seen him.
Then I will have a starting point."
"Well, that may be a good plan," assented Mr. Swift. "At any rate it
will do no harm to try. A tramp locked up in a country police
station will very likely be willing to talk. Go ahead with that
scheme, Tom, but don't get into any danger. How long will you be
"I don't know. A week, perhaps; maybe longer. I'll take plenty of
money with me, and stop at country hotels overnight."
Tom lost no time in putting his plan into execution. He packed some
clothes in a grip, which he attached to the rear of his motor-cycle,
and then having said good-by to his father, started off. The first
three days he met with no success. He located several tramps in
country lock-ups, where they had been sent for begging or loitering,
but none of them knew Happy Harry or had ever heard of a tramp
answering his description.
"He ain't one of us, youse can make up your mind to dat," said one
"hobo" whom Tom interviewed. "No real knight of de highway goes
around in a disguise. We leaves dat for de story-book detectives.
I'm de real article, I am, an' I don't know Happy Harry. But, fer
dat matter, any of us is happy enough in de summer time, if we don't
strike a burgh like dis, where dey jugs you fer panhandlin'."
In general, Tom found the tramp willing enough to answer his
questions, though some were sullen, and returned only surly growls
to his inquiries.
"I guess I'll have to give it up and go back home," he decided one
night. But there was a small town, not many miles from Shopton,
which he had not yet visited, and he resolved to try there before
returning. Accordingly, the next morning found him inquiring of the
police authorities in Meadton. But no tramps had been arrested in
the last month, and no one had seen anything of a tramp like Happy
Harry or three mysterious men in an automobile.
Tom was beginning to despair. Riding along a silent road, that
passed through a strip of woods, he was trying to think of some new
line of procedure, when the silence of the highway, that, hitherto,
had resounded only with the muffled explosions of his machine, was
broken by several exclamations.
"Now, Boomerang, yo' might jest as well start now as later," Tom heard
a voice saying--a voice he recognized well. "Yo' hab got t' do dis
yeah wuk, an' dere ain't no gittin' out ob it. Dis yeah wood am got to
be sawed, an' yo' hab got to saw it. But it am jest laik yo' to go
back on yo' ole friend Eradicate in dis yeah fashion. I neber could
tell what yo' were gwine t' do next, an' I cain't now. G'lang, now,
won't yo'? Let's git dis yeah sawmill started."
Tom shut off the power and leaped from his wheel. From the woods at
his left came the protesting "hee-haw" of a mule.
"Boomerang and Eradicate Sampson!" exclaimed the young inventor.
"What can they be doing here?"
He leaned his motor-cycle against the fence and advanced toward
where he had heard the voice of the colored man. In a little
clearing he saw him. Eradicate was presiding over a portable
sawmill, worked by a treadmill, on the incline of which was the
mule, its ears laid back, and an unmistakable expression of anger on
"Why, Rad, what are you doing?" cried Tom.
"Good land o' massy! Ef it ain't young Mistah Swift!" cried the
darky. "Howdy, Mistah Swift! Howdy! I'm jest tryin' t' saw some
wood, t' make a livin', but Boomerang he doan't seem t' want t'
lib," and with that Eradicate looked reproachfully at the animal.
"What seems to be the trouble, and how did you come to own this
sawmill?" asked Tom.
"I'll tell yo', Mistah Swift, I'll tell yo'," spoke Eradicate. "Sit
right yeah on dis log, an' I'll explanation it to yo'."
"The last time I saw you, you were preparing to go into the grass-
cutting business," went on Tom.
"Yais, sah! Dat's right. So I was. Yo' has got a memory, yo' suah
has. But it am dis yeah way. Grass ain't growin' quick enough, an'
so I traded off dat lawn-moah an' bought dis yeah mill. But now it
won't go, an' I suah am in trouble," and once more Eradicate Sampson
looked indignantly at Boomerang.
ERADICATE GIVES A CLUE
"Tell me all about it," urged Tom sympathetically, for he had a
friendly feeling toward the aged darky.
"Well," began Eradicate, "I suah thought I were gwine to make money
cuttin' grass, 'specially after yo' done fixed mah moah. But 'peared
laik nobody wanted any grass cut. I trabeled all ober, an' I
couldn't git no jobs. Now me an' Boomerang has to eat, no mattah ef
he is contrary, so I had t' look fo' some new wuk. I traded dat
lawn-moah off fo' a cross-cut saw, but dat was such hard wuk dat I
gib it up. Den I got a chance to buy dis yeah outfit cheap, an' I
Eradicate then went on to tell how he had purchased the portable
sawmill from a man who had no further use for it, and how he had
managed to transport it from a distant village to the spot where Tom
had met him. There he had secured permission to work a piece of
woodland on shares, sawing up the smaller trees into cord wood. He
had started in well enough, cutting down considerable timber, for
the colored man was a willing worker, but when he tried to start his
mill he met with trouble.
"I counted on Boomerang helpin' me," he said to Tom. "All he has to
do is walk on dat tread mill, an' keep goin'. Dat makes de saw go
'round, an' I saws de wood. But de trouble am dat I can't git
Boomerang to move. I done tried ebery means I knows on, an' he won't
go. I talked kind to him, an' I talked harsh. I done beat him wif a
club, an' I rub his ears soft laik, an' he allers did laik dat, but
he won't go. I fed him on carrots an' I gib him sugar, an' I eben
starve him, but he won't go. Heah I been tryin' fo' three days now
t' git him started, an' not a stick hab I sawed. De man what I'm
wukin' wif on shares he git mad, an' he say ef I doan't saw wood
pretty soon he gwine t' git annuder mill heah. Now I axes yo' fair,
Mistah Swift, ain't I got lots ob trouble?"
"You certainly seem to have," agreed Tom "But why is Boomerang so
obstinate? Usually on a treadmill a horse or a mule has to work
whether they like it or not. If they don't keep moving the platform
slides out from under them, and they come up against the back bar."
"Dat's what done happened to Boomerang," declared Eradicate. "He
done back up against de bar, an' dere he stay."
Tom went over and looked at the mill. The outfit was an old one, and
had seen much service, but the trained eye of the young inventor saw
that it could still be used effectively. Boomerang watched Tom, as
though aware that something unusual was about to happen.
"Heah I done gone an' 'vested mah money in dis yeah mill,"
complained Eradicate, "an' I ain't sawed up a single stick. Ef I
wasn't so kind-hearted I'd chastise dat mule wuss dan I has, dat's
what I would."
Tom said nothing. He was stooping down, looking at the gearing that
connected the tread mill with the shaft which revolved the saw.
Suddenly he uttered an exclamation,
"Rad, have you been monkeying with this machinery?" he asked.
"Me? Good land, Mistah Swift, no, sah! I wouldn't tech it. It's jest
as I got it from de man I bought it oh. It worked when he had it,
but he used a hoss. It's all due to de contrariness ob Boomerang,
an' if I--"
"No, it isn't the mule's fault at all!" exclaimed Tom. "The mill is
out of gear, and tread is locked; that's all. The man you bought it
off probably did it so you could haul it along the road. I'll have
it fixed for you in a few minutes. Wait until I get some tools."
From the bag on his motor-cycle Tom got his implements. He first
unlocked the treadmill, so that the inclined platform, on which the
animal slowly walked, could revolve. No sooner had he done this than
Boomerang, feeling the slats under his hoofs moving away, started
forward. With a rattle the treadmill slid around.
"Good land o' massy! It's goin'!" cried Eradicate delightedly. "It
suah am goin'!" he added as he saw the mule, with nimble feet, send
the revolving, endless string of slats around and around. "But de
saw doan't move, Mistah Swift. Yo' am pretty smart at fixin' it as
much as yo' has, but I reckon it's too busted t' eber saw any wood.
I'se got bad luck, dat's what I has."
"Nonsense!" exclaimed Tom. "The sawmill will be going in a moment.
All I have to do is to throw it into gear. See here, Rad. When you
want the saw to go you just throw this handle forward. That makes
the gears mesh."
"What's dat 'bout mush?" asked Eradicate.
"Mesh--not mush. I mean it makes the cogs fit together. See," and
Tom pressed the lever. In an instant, with a musical whirr, the saw
"Hurrah! Dere it goes! Golly! see de saw move!" cried the delighted
colored man. He seized a stick of wood, and in a trice it was sawed
"Whoop!" yelled Eradicate. "I'm sabed now! Bless yo', Mistah Swift,
yo' suttinly am a wondah!"
"Now I'll show you how it works," went on Tom. "When you want to
stop Boomerang, you just pull this handle. That locks the tread, and
he can't move it," and, suiting the action to his words, Tom stopped
the mill. "Then," he went on, "when you want him to move, you pull
the handle this way," and he showed the darky how to do it. In a
moment the mule was moving again. Then Tom illustrated how to throw
the saw in and out of gear, and in a few minutes the sawmill was in
full operation, with a most energetic colored man feeding in logs to
be cut up into stove lengths.
"You ought to have an assistant, Rad," said Tom, after he had
watched the work for a while. "You could get more done then, and
move on to some other wood-patch."
"Dat's right, Mistah Swift, so I had. But I 'done tried, an'
couldn't git any. I ast seberal colored men, but dey'd radder
whitewash an' clean chicken coops. I guess I'll hab t' go it alone.
I ast a white man yisterday ef he wouldn't like t' pitch in an'
help, but he said he didn't like to wuk. He was a tramp, an' he had
de nerve to ask me fer money--me, a hard-wukin' coon."
"You didn't give it to him, I hope."
"No, indeedy, but he come so close to me dat I was askeered he might
take it from me, so I kept hold ob a club. He suah was a bad-lookin'
tramp, an' he kept laffin' all de while, like he was happy."
"What's that?" cried Tom, struck by the words of the colored man.
"Did he have a thick, brown beard?"
"Dat's what he had," answered Eradicate, pausing in the midst of his
work. "He suah were a funny sort ob tramp. His hands done looked
laik he neber wuked, an' he had a funny blue ring one finger, only
it wasn't a reg'lar ring, yo' know. It was pushed right inter his
skin, laik a man I seen at de circus once, all cobered wid funny
Tom leaped to his feet.
"Which finger was the blue ring tattooed on?" he asked, and he
waited anxiously for the answer.
"Let me see, it were on de right--no, it were on de little finger ob
de left hand."
"Are you sure, Rad?"
"Suah, Mistah Swift. I took 'tic'lar notice, 'cause he carried a
stick in dat same hand."
"It must be my man--Happy Harry!" exclaimed Tom half aloud. "Which
way did he go, Rad, after he left you?"
"He went up de lake shore," replied the colored man. "He asked me if
I knowed ob an ole big house up dere, what nobody libed in, an' I
said I did. Den he left, an' I were glad ob it."
"Which house did you mean, Rad?"
"Why, dat ole mansion what General Harkness used t' lib in befo' de
wah. Dere ain't nobody libed in it fo' some years now, an' it's
deserted. Maybe a lot ob tramps stays in it, an' dat's where dis man
"Maybe," assented Tom, who was all excitement now. "Just where is
this old house, Rad?"
"Away up at de head ob Lake Carlopa. I uster wuk dere befo' de wah,
but it's been a good many years since quality folks libed dere. Why,
did yo' want t' see dat man, Mistah Swift?"
"Yes, Rad, I did, and very badly, too. I think he is the very person
I want. But don't say anything about it. I'm going to take a trip up
to that strange mansion. Maybe I'll get on the trail of Happy Harry
and the men who robbed me. I'm much obliged to you, Rad, for this
information. It's a good clue, I think. Strange that you should meet
the very tramp I've been searching for."
"Well, I suah am obliged to yo', Mistah Swift, fo' fixin' mah
"That's all right. What you told me more than pays for what I did,
Rad. Well, I'm going home now to tell dad, and then I'm going to start
out. Yesterday, you said it was, you saw Happy Harry? Well, I'll get
right after him," and leaving a somewhat surprised, but very much
delighted, colored man behind him, Tom mounted his motor-cycle and
started for home at a fast pace.
THE STRANGE MANSION
"Dad, I've got a clue!" exclaimed Tom, hurrying into the house late
that afternoon, following a quick trip from where he had met
Eradicate with his sawmill. "A good clue, and I'm going to start
early in the morning to run it down."
"Wait a minute, now, Tom," cautioned his father slowly. "You know
what happens when you get excited. Nothing good was ever done in a
"Well, I can't help being excited, dad. I think I'm on the trail of
those scoundrels. I almost wish I could start to-night."
"Suppose you tell me all about it," and Mr. Swift laid aside a
scientific book he was reading.
Whereupon Tom told of his meeting with the colored man, and what
Eradicate had said about the tramp.
"But he may not be the same Happy Harry you are looking for,"
interposed Mr. Swift. "Tramps who don't like to work, and who have a
jolly disposition, also those who ask for money and have designs
tattooed on their hands, are very common."
"Oh, but I'm sure this is the same one," declared Tom. "He wants to
stay in this neighborhood until he locates his confederates. That's
why he's hanging around. Now I have an idea that the deserted
mansion, where Eradicate used to work, and which once housed General
Harkness and his family, is the rendezvous of this gang of thieves."
"You are taking a great deal for granted, Tom."
"I don't think so, dad. I've got to assume something, and maybe I'm
wrong, but I don't think so. At any rate, I'm going to try, if
you'll let me."
"What do you mean to do?"
"I want to go to that deserted mansion and see what I can find. If I
locate the thieves, well--"
"You may run into danger."
"Then you admit I may be on the right track, dad?"
"Not at all," and Mr. Swift smiled at the quick manner in which Tom
turned the tables on him. "I admit there may be a band of tramps in
that house. Very likely there is--almost any deserted place would be
attractive to them. But they may not be the ones you seek. In fact,
I hardly see how they can be. The men who stole my model and patent
papers are wealthy. They would not be very likely to stay in
"Perhaps some of the scoundrels whom they hired might, and through
them I can get on the track of the principals."
"Well, there is something in that," admitted Mr. Swift.
"Then may I go, dad?"
"I suppose so. We must leave nothing untried to get back the stolen
model and papers. But I don't want you to run any risks. If you
would only take some one with you. There's your chum, Ned Newton.
Perhaps he would go."
"No, I'd rather work it alone, dad. I'll be careful. Besides, Ned
could not get away from the bank. I may have to be gone a week, and
he has no motor-cycle. I can manage all right."
Tom was off bright and early. He had carefully laid his plans, and
had decided that he would not go direct to Pineford, which was the
nearest village to the old Harkness mansion.
"If those fellows are in hiding they will probably keep watch on who
comes to the village," thought Tom. "The arrival of some one on a
motor-cycle will be sure to be reported to them, and they may skip
out. I've got to come up from another direction, so I think I'll
circle around, and reach the mansion from the stretch of woods on
He had inquired from Eradicate as to the lay of the land, and had a
good general idea of it. He knew there was a patch of woodland on
one side of the mansion, while the other sides were open.
"I may not be able to ride through the woods," mused Tom, "but I'll
take my machine as close as I can, and walk the rest of the way.
Once I discover whether or not the gang is in the place, I'll know
what to do."
To follow out the plan he had laid down for himself meant that Tom
must take a roundabout way. It would necessitate being a whole day
on the road, before he would be near the head of Lake Carlopa, where
the Harkness house was located. The lake was a large one, and Tom
had never been to the upper end.
When he was within a few miles of Pineford, Tom took a road that
branched off and went around it. Stopping at night in a lonely
farmhouse, he pushed on the next morning, hoping to get to the woods
that night. But a puncture to one of the tires delayed him, and
after that was repaired he discovered something wrong with his
batteries. He had to go five miles out of his way to get new cells,
and it was dusk when he came to the stretch of woods which he knew
lay between him and the old mansion.
"I don't fancy starting in there at night," said Tom to himself.
"Guess I'd better stay somewhere around here until morning, and then
venture in. But the question is where to stay?"
The country was deserted, and for a mile or more he had seen no
houses. He kept on for some distance farther, the dusk falling
rapidly, and when he was about to turn back to retrace his way to
the last farmhouse he had passed, he saw a slab shanty at the side
of the road.
"That's better than nothing, provided they'll take me in for the
night," murmured Tom. "I'm going to ask, anyhow."
He found the shanty to be inhabited by an old man who made a living
burning charcoal. The place was not very attractive, but Tom did not
mind that, and finding the charcoal-burner a kindly old fellow, soon
made a bargain with him to remain all night.
Tom slept soundly, in spite of his strange surroundings, and after a
simple breakfast in the morning inquired of the old man the best way
of penetrating the forest.
"You'd best strike right along the old wood road," said the
charcoal-burner. "That leads right to the lake, and I think will
take you where you want to go. The old mansion is not far from the
"Near the lake, eh?" mused Tom as he started off, after thanking the
old fellow. "Now I wonder if I'd better try to get to it from the
water or the land side?"
He found it impossible to ride fast on the old wood road, and when he
judged he was so close to the lake that the noise of his motor-cycle
might be heard, he shut off the power, and walked along, pushing
it. It was hard traveling, and he felt weary, but he kept on, and
about noon was rewarded by a sight of something glittering through the
"That's the lake!" Tom exclaimed, half aloud. "I'm almost there."
A little later, having hidden his motor-cycle in a clump of bushes,
he made his way through the underbrush and stood on the shore of
Lake Carlopa. Cautiously Tom looked about him. It was getting well
on in the afternoon, and the sun was striking across the broad sheet
of water. Tom glanced up along the shore. Something amid a clump of
trees caught his eyes. It was the chimney of a house. The young
inventor walked a little distance along the lake shore. Suddenly he
saw, looming up in the forest, a large building. It needed but a
glance to show that it was falling into ruins, and had no signs of
life about it. Nor, for that matter, was there any life in the
forest around him, or on the lake that stretched out before him.
"I wonder if that can be the place?" whispered Tom, for, somehow,
the silence of the place was getting on his nerves. "It must be it,"
he went on. "It's just as Rad described it."
He stood looking at it, the sun striking full on the mysterious
mansion, hidden there amid the trees. Suddenly, as Tom looked, he
heard the "put-put" of a motor-boat. He turned to one side, and saw,
putting out from a little dock that he had not noticed before, a
small craft. It contained one man, and no sooner had the young
inventor caught a glimpse of him than he cried out:
"That's the man who jumped over our fence and escaped!"
Then, before the occupant of the boat could catch sight of him, Tom
turned and fled back into the bushes, out of view.
TOM IS PURSUED
Tom was so excited that he hardly knew what to do. His first thought
was to keep out of sight of the man in the boat, for the young
inventor did not want the criminals to suspect that he was on their
trail. To that end he ran back until he knew he could not be seen
from the lake. There he paused and peered through the bushes. He
caught a glimpse of the man in the motor-boat. The craft was making
fast time across the water.
"He didn't see me," murmured Tom. "Lucky I saw him first. Now what
had I better do?"
It was a hard question to answer. If he only had some one with whom
to consult he would have felt better, but he knew he had to rely on
himself. Tom was a resourceful lad, and he had often before been
obliged to depend on his wits. But this time very much was at stake,
and a false move might ruin everything.
"This is certainly the house," went on Tom, "and that man in the
boat is one of the fellows who helped rob me. Now the next thing to
do is to find out if the others of the gang are in the old mansion,
and, if they are, to see if dad's model and papers are there. Then
the next thing to do will be to get our things away, and I fancy
I'll have no easy job."
Well might Tom think this, for the men with whom he had to deal were
desperate characters, who had already dared much to accomplish their
ends, and who would do more before they would suffer defeat. Still,
they under-estimated the pluck of the lad who was pitted against
"I might as well proceed on a certain plan, and have some system
about this affair," reasoned the lad. "Dad is a great believer in
system, so I'll lay out a plan and see how nearly I can follow it.
Let's see--what is the first thing to do?"
Tom considered a moment, going over the whole situation in his mind.
Then he went on, talking to himself alone there in the woods:
"It seems to me the first thing to do is to find out if the men are
in the house. To do that I've got to get closer and look in through
a window. Now, how to get closer?"
He considered that problem from all sides.
"It will hardly do to approach from the lake shore," he reasoned.
"for if they have a motor-boat and a dock, there must be a path from
the house to the water. If there is a path people are likely to walk
up or down it at any minute. The man in the boat might come back
unexpectedly and catch me. No, I can't risk approaching from the
lake shore. I've got to work my way up to the house by going through
the woods. That much is settled. Now to approach the house, and when
I get within seeing distance I'll settle the next point. One thing
at a time is a good rule, as dad used to say. Poor dad! I do hope I
can get his model and papers back for him."
Tom, who had been sitting on a log under a bush, staring at the
lake, arose. He was feeling rather weak and faint, and was at a loss
to account for it, until he remembered that he had had no dinner.
"And I'm not likely to get any," he remarked. "I'm not going to eat
until I see who's in that house. Maybe I won't then, and where
supper is coming from I don't know. But this is too important to be
considered in the same breath with a meal. Here goes."
Cautiously Tom made his way forward, taking care not to make too
much disturbance in the bushes. He had been on hunting trips, and
knew the value of silence in the woods. He had no paths to follow,
but he had noted the position of the sun, and though that luminary
was now sinking lower and lower in the west, he could see the gleam
of it through the trees, and knew in which direction from it lay the
Tom moved slowly, and stopped every now and then to listen. All the
sounds he heard were those made by the creatures of the woods--
birds, squirrels and rabbits. He went forward for half an hour,
though in that time he did not cover much ground, and he was just
beginning to think that the house must be near at hand when through
a fringe of bushes he saw the old mansion. It stood in the midst of
what had once been a fine park, but which was now overgrown with
weeds and tangled briars. The paths that led to the house were
almost out of sight, and the once beautiful home was partly in
"I guess I can sneak up there and take a look in one of the
windows," thought the young inventor. He was about to advance, when
he suddenly stopped. He heard some one or some thing coming around
the corner of the mansion. A moment later a man came into view, and
Tom easily recognized him as one of those who had been in the
automobile. The heart of the young inventor beat so hard that he was
afraid the man would hear it, and Tom crouched down in the bushes to
keep out of sight. The man evidently did not suspect the presence of
a stranger, for, though he cast sharp glances into the tangled
undergrowth that fringed the house like a hedge, he did not seek to
investigate further. He walked slowly on, making a circuit of the
grounds. Tom remained hidden for several minutes, and was about to
proceed again, when the man reappeared. Then Tom saw the reason for
"He's on guard!" the lad said to himself. "He's doing sentry duty. I
can't approach the house when he's there."
For an instant Tom felt a bitter disappointment. He had hoped to be
able to carry out his plan as he had mapped it. Now he would have to
make a change.
"I'll have to wait until night," he thought. "Then I can sneak up
and look in. The guard won't see me after dark. But it's going to be
no fun to stay here, without anything to eat. Still, I've got to do
He remained where he was in the bushes. Several times, before the
sun set, the man doing sentry duty made the circuit of the house,
and Tom noted that occasionally he was gone for a long period. He
reasoned that the man had gone into the mansion to confer with his
"If I only knew what was going on in there," thought Tom. "Maybe,
after all, the men haven't got the model and papers here. Yet, if
they haven't, why are they staying in the old house? I must get a
look in and see what's going on. Lucky there are no shades to the
windows. I wish it would get dark."
It seemed that the sun would never go down and give place to dusk,
but finally Tom, crouching in his hiding place, saw the shadows grow
longer and longer, and finally the twilight of the woods gave place
to a density that was hard to penetrate. Tom waited some time to see
if the guard kept up the circuit, but with the approach of night the
man seemed to have gone into the house. Tom saw a light gleam out
from the lonely mansion. It came from a window on the ground floor.
"There's my chance!" exclaimed the lad, and, crawling from his
hiding place, he advanced cautiously toward it.
Tom went forward only a few feet at a time, pausing almost every
other step to listen. He heard no sounds, and was reassured. Nearer
and nearer he came to the old house. The gleam of the light fell
upon his face, and fearful that some one might be looking from the
window, he shifted his course, so as to come up from one side.
Slowly, very slowly he advanced, until he was right under the
window. Then he found that it was too high up to admit of his
looking in. He felt about until he had a stone to stand on.
Softly he drew himself up inch by inch. He could hear the murmur of
voices in the room. Now the top of his head was on a level with the
sill. A few more inches and his eyes could take in the room and the
occupants. He was scarcely breathing. Up, up he raised himself until
he could look into the apartment, and the sight which met his eyes
nearly caused him to lose his hold and topple backward. For grouped
around a table in a big room were the three men whom he had seen in
the automobile. But what attracted his attention more than the sight
of the men was an object on the table. It was the stolen model! The
men were inspecting it, and operating it, as he could see. One of
the trio had a bundle of papers in his hand, and Tom was sure they
were the ones stolen from him. But there could be no doubt about the
model of the turbine motor. There it was in plain sight. He had
tracked the thieves to their hiding place.
Then, as he watched, Tom saw one of the men produce from under the
table a box, into which the model was placed. The papers were next
put in, and a cover was nailed on. Then the men appeared to consult
By their gestures Tom concluded that they were debating where to
hide the box. One man pointed toward the lake, and another toward
the forest. Tom was edging himself up farther, in order to see
better, and, if possible, catch their words, when his foot slipped,
and he made a slight noise. Instantly the men turned toward the
window, but Tom had stooped down out of sight, just in time.
A moment later, however, he heard some one approaching through the
woods behind him, and a voice called out:
"What are you doing? Get away from there!"
Rapid footsteps sounded, and Tom, in a panic, turned and fled, with
an unknown pursuer after him.
Tom rushed on through the woods. The lighted room into which he had
been looking had temporarily blinded him when it came to plunging
into the darkness again, and he could not see where he was going. He
crashed full-tilt into a tree, and was thrown backward. Bruised and
cut, he picked himself up and rushed off in another direction.
Fortunately he struck into some sort of a path, probably one made by
cows, and then, as his eyes recovered their faculties, he could
dimly distinguish the trees on either side of him and avoid them.
His heart, that was beating fiercely, calmed down after his first
fright, and when he had run on for several minutes he stopped.
"That--that must--have been--the--the man--from the boat," panted
our hero, whispering to himself. "He came back and saw me. I wonder
if he's after me yet?"
Tom listened. The only sound he could hear was the trill and chirp
of the insects of the woods. The pursuit, which had lasted only a
few minutes, was over. But it might be resumed at any moment. Tom
was not safe yet, he thought, and he kept on.
"I wonder where I am? I wonder where my motor-cycle is? I wonder
what I had better do?" he asked himself.
Three big questions, and no way of settling them; Tom pulled himself
"I've got to think this thing out," he resumed. "They can't find me
in these woods to-night, that's sure, unless they get dogs, and
they're not likely to do that. So I'm safe that far. But that's
about all that is in my favor. I won't dare to go back to the house,
even if I could find it in this blackness, which is doubtful. It
wouldn't be safe, for they'll be on guard now. It looks as though I
was up against it. I'm afraid they may imagine the police are after
them, and go away. If they do, and take the model and papers with
them, I'll have an awful job to locate them again, and probably I
won't be able to. That's the worst of it. Here I have everything
right under my hands, and I can't do a thing. If I only had some one
to help me; some one to leave on guard while I went for the police.
I'm one against three--no, four, for the man in the boat is back.
Let's see what can I do?"
Then a sudden plan came to him.
"The lake shore!" he exclaimed, half aloud. "I'll go down there and
keep watch. If they escape they'll probably go in the boat, for they
wouldn't venture through the woods at night. That's it. I'll watch
on shore, and if they do leave in the boat--" He paused again,
undecided. "Why, if they do," he finished, "I'll sing out, and make
such a row that they'll think the whole countryside is after them.
That may drive them back, or they may drop the box containing the
papers and model, and cut for it. If they do I'll be all right. I
don't care about capturing them, if I can get dad's model back."
He felt more like himself, now that he had mapped out another plan.
"The first thing to do is to locate the lake," reasoned Tom. "Let's
see; I ran in a straight line away from the house--that is, as
nearly straight as I could. Now if I turn around and go straight
back, bearing off a little to the left, I ought to come to the
water. I'll do it."
But it was not so easy as Tom imagined, and several times he found
himself in the midst of almost impenetrable bushes. He kept on,
however, and soon had the satisfaction of emerging from the woods
out on the shore of the lake. Then, having gotten his bearings as
well as he could in the darkness, he moved down until he was near
the deserted house. The light was still showing from the window, and
Tom judged by this that the men had not taken fright and fled.
"I suppose I could sneak down and set the motor-boat adrift," he
argued. "That would prevent them leaving by way of the lake, anyhow.
That's what I'll do! I'll cut off one means of escape. I'll set the
Very cautiously he advanced toward where he had seen the small craft
put out. He was on his guard, for he feared the men would be on the
watch, but he reached the dock in safety, and was loosening the rope
that tied the boat to the little wharf when another thought came to
"Why set this boat adrift?" he reasoned. "It is too good a boat to
treat that way, and, besides, it will make a good place for me to
spend the rest of the night. I've got to stay around here until
morning, and then I'll see if I can't get help. I'll just
appropriate this boat for my own use. They have dad's model, and
I'll take their boat."
Softly he got into the craft, and with an oar which was kept in it
to propel it in case the engine gave out, he poled it along the
shore of the lake until he was some distance away from the dock.
That afternoon he had seen a secluded place along the shore, a spot
where overhanging bushes made a good hiding place, and for this he
headed the craft. A little later it was completely out of sight, and
Tom stretched out on the cushioned seats, pulling a tarpaulin over
him. There he prepared to spend the rest of the night.
"They can't get away except through the woods now, which I don't
believe they'll do," he thought, "and this is better for me than
staying out under a tree. I'm glad I thought of it."
The youth, naturally, did not pass a very comfortable night, though
his bed was not a half bad one. He fell into uneasy dozes, only to
arouse, thinking the men in the old mansion were trying to escape.
Then he would sit up and listen, but he could hear nothing. It
seemed as if morning would never come, but at length the stars began
to fade, and the sky seemed overcast with a filmy, white veil. Tom
sat up, rubbed his smarting eyes, and stretched his cramped limbs.
"Oh, for a hot cup of coffee!" he exclaimed. "But not for mine,
until I land these chaps where they belong. Now the question is, how
can I get help to capture them?"
His hunger was forgotten in this. He stepped from the boat to a
secluded spot on the shore. The craft, he noted, was well hidden.
"I've got to go back to where I left my motor-cycle, jump on that,
and ride for aid," he reasoned. "Maybe I can get the charcoal-burner
to go for me, while I come back and stand guard. I guess that would
be the best plan. I certainly ought to be on hand, for there is no
telling when these fellows will skip out with the model, if they
haven't gone already. I hate to leave, yet I've got to. It's the
only way. I wish I'd done as dad suggested, and brought help. But
it's too late for that. Well, I'm off."
Tom took a last look at the motor-boat, which was a fine one. He
wished it was his. Then he struck through the woods. He had his
bearings now, and was soon at the place where he had left his
machine. It had not been disturbed. He caught a glimpse of the old
mansion on his way out of the woods. There appeared to be no one
stirring about it.
"I hope my birds haven't flown!" he exclaimed, and the thought gave
him such uneasiness that he put it from him. Pushing his heavy
machine ahead of him until he came to a good road, he mounted it,
and was soon at the charcoal-burner's shack. There came no answer to
his knock, and Tom pushed open the door. The old man was not in. Tom
could not send him for help.
"My luck seems to be against me!" he murmured. "But I can get
something to eat here, anyhow. I'm almost starved!"
He found the kitchen utensils, and made some coffee, also frying
some bacon and eggs. Then, feeling much refreshed, and having left
on the table some money to pay for the inroad he had made on the
victuals, he started to go outside.
As our hero stepped to the door he was greeted by a savage growl
that made him start in alarm.
"A dog!" he mused. "I didn't know there was one around."
He looked outside and there, to his dismay, saw a big,
savage-appearing bulldog standing close to where he had left his
motor-cycle. The animal had been sniffing suspiciously at the machine.
"Good dog!" called Tom. "Come here!"
But the bulldog did not come. Instead the beast stood still, showed
his teeth to Tom and growled in a low tone.
"Wonder if the owner can be near?" mused the young inventor. "That
dog won't let me get my machine, I am afraid."
Tom spoke to the animal again and again the dog growled and showed
his teeth. He next made a move as if to leap into the house, and Tom
quickly stepped back and banged shut the door.
"Well, if this isn't the worst yet!" cried the youth to himself.
"Here, just at the time I want to be off, I must be held up by such
a brute as that outside. Wonder how long he'll keep me a prisoner?"
Tom went to a window and peered out. No person had appeared and the
lad rightly surmised that the bulldog had come to the cottage alone.
The beast appeared to be hungry, and this gave Tom a sudden idea.
"Maybe if I feed him, he'll forget that I am around and give me a
chance to get away," he reasoned. "Guess I had better try that dodge
Tom looked around the cottage and at last found the remains of a
chicken dinner the owner had left behind. He picked up some of the
bones and called the bulldog. The animal came up rather
suspiciously. Tom threw him one bone, which he proceeded to crunch
"He's hungry right enough," mused Tom. "I guess he'd like to sample
my leg. But he's not going to do it--not if I can help it."
At the back of the cottage was a little shed, the door to which
stood open. Tom threw a bone near to the door of this shed and then
managed to throw another bone inside the place. The bulldog found
the first bone and then disappeared after the second.
"Now is my time, I guess," the young inventor told himself, and
watching his chance, he ran from the cottage toward his motor-cycle.
He made no noise and quickly shoved the machine into the roadway.
Just as he turned on the power the bulldog came out of the shed,
"You've missed it!" said Tom grimly as the machine started, and
quickly the cottage and the bulldog were left behind. The road was
rough for a short distance and he had to pay strict attention to
what he was doing.
"I've got to ride to the nearest village," he said. "It's a long
distance, and, in the meanwhile, the men may escape. But I can't do
anything else. I dare not tackle them alone, and there is no telling
when the charcoal-burner may come back. I've got to make speed,
Out on the main road the lad sent his machine ahead at a fast pace.
He was fairly humming along when, suddenly, from around a curve in
the highway he heard the "honk-honk" of an automobile horn. For an
instant his heart failed him.
"I wonder if those are the thieves? Maybe they have left the house,
and are in their auto!" he whispered as he slowed down his machine.
The automobile appeared to have halted. As Tom came nearer the turn
he heard voices. At the sound of one he started. The voice
"Bless my spectacles! What's wrong now? I thought that when I got this
automobile I would enjoy life, but it's as bad as my motor-cycle was
for going wrong! Bless my very existence, but has anything happened?"
"Mr. Damon!" exclaimed Tom, for he recognized the eccentric
individual of whom he had obtained the motor-cycle.
The next moment Tom was in sight of a big touring car, containing,
not only Mr. Damon, whom Tom recognized at once, but three other
"Oh, Mr. Damon," cried Tom, "will you help me capture a gang of
thieves? They are in a deserted mansion in the woods, and they have
one of my father's patent models! Will you help me, Mr. Damon?"
"Why, bless my top-knots," exclaimed the odd gentleman. "If it isn't
Tom Swift, the young inventor! Bless my very happiness! There's my
motor-cycle, too! Help you? Why, of course we will. Bless my
shoe-leather! Of course we'll help you!"
Tom's story was soon told, and Mr. Damon quickly explained to his
friends in the automobile how he had first made the acquaintance of
the young inventor.
"But how does it happen that you are trusting yourself in a car like
this?" asked Tom. "I thought you were done with gasolene machines,
"I thought so, too, Tom, but, bless my batteries, my doctor insisted
that I must get out in the open air. I'm too stout to walk, and I
can't run. The only solution was in an automobile, for I never would
dream of a motor-cycle. I wonder that one of mine hasn't run away
with you and killed you. But there! My automobile is nearly as bad.
We went along very nicely yesterday, and now, just when I have a
party of friends out, something goes wrong. Bless my liver! I do
seem to have the worst luck!"
Tom lost no time in looking for the trouble. He found it in the
ignition, and soon had it fixed. Then a sort of council of war was
"Do you think those scoundrels are there yet?" asked Mr. Damon.
"I hope so," answered Tom.
"So do I," went on the odd character. "Bless my soul, but I want a
chance to pummel them. Come, gentlemen, let's be moving. Will you
ride with us, Tom Swift, or on that dangerous motor-cycle?"
"I think I'll stick to my machine, Mr. Damon. I can easily keep up
"Very well. Then we'll get along. We'll proceed until we get close
to the old mansion, and then some of us will go down to the lake
shore, and the rest of us will surround the house. We'll catch the
villains red-handed, and I hope we bag that tramp among them."
"I hardly think he is there," said Tom.
In a short time the auto and the motor-cycle had carried the
respective riders to the road through the woods. There the machines
were left, and the party proceeded on foot. Tom had a revolver with
him, and one member of Mr. Damon's party also had a small one, more
to scare dogs than for any other purpose. Tom gave his weapon to one
of the men, and cut a stout stick for himself, an example followed
by those who had no firearms.
"A club for mine!" exclaimed Mr. Damon. "The less I have to do with
machinery the better I like it. Now, Tom Swift is just the other way
around," he explained to his friends.
Cautiously they approached the house, and when within seeing
distance of it they paused for a consultation. There seemed to be no
one stirring about the old mansion, and Tom was fearful lest the men
had left. But this could not be determined until they came closer.
Two of Mr. Damon's friends elected to go down to the shore of the
lake and prevent any escape in that direction, while the others,
including Tom, were to approach from the wood side. When the two who
were to form the water attacking party were ready, one of them was
to fire his revolver as a signal. Then Tom, Mr. Damon and the others
would rush in.
The young inventor, Mr. Damon, and his friend, whom he addressed as
Mr. Benson, went as close to the house as they considered prudent.
Then, screening themselves in the bushes, they waited. They
conversed in whispers, Tom giving more details of his experience
with the patent thieves.
Suddenly the silence of the woods was broken by some one advancing
through the underbrush.
"Bless my gaiters, some one is coming!" exclaimed Mr. Damon in a
hoarse whisper. "Can that be Munson or Dwight coming back?" He
referred to his two friends who had gone to the lake.
"Or perhaps the fellows are escaping," suggested Mr. Benson.
"Suppose we take a look."
At that moment the person approaching, whoever he was, began to
sing. Tom started.
"I'll wager that's Happy Harry, the tramp!" he exclaimed. "I know
Cautiously Tom peered over the screen of bushes.
"Who is it?" asked Mr. Damon.
"It's Happy Harry!" said Tom. "We'll get them all, now. He's going
up to the house."
They watched the tramp. All unconscious of the eyes of the men and
boy in the bushes, he kept on. Presently the door of the house
opened, and a man came out. Tom recognized him as Anson Morse--the
person who had dropped the telegram.
"Say, Burke," called the man at the door, "have you taken the
"Motor-boat? No," answered the tramp. "I just came here. I've had a
hard time--nearly got caught in Swift's house the other night by
that cub of a boy. Is the boat gone?"
"Yes. Appleson came back in it last night and saw some one looking
in the window, but we thought it was only a farmer and chased him
away. This morning the boat's gone. I thought maybe you had taken it
for a joke."
"Not a bit of it! Something's wrong!" exclaimed Happy Harry. "We'd
better light out. I think the police are after us. That young Swift
is too sharp for my liking. We'd better skip. I don't believe that
was a farmer who looked in the window. Tell the others, get the
stuff, and we'd leave this locality."
"They're here still," whispered Tom. "That's good!"
"I wonder if Munson and Dwight are at the lake yet?" asked Mr.
Damon. "They ought to be--"
At that instant a pistol shot rang out. The tramp, after a hasty
glance around, started on the run for the house. The man in the
doorway sprang out. Soon two others joined him.
"Who fired that shot?" cried Morse.
"Come on, Tom!" cried Mr. Damon, grabbing up his club and springing
from the bushes. "Our friends have arrived!" The young inventor and
Mr. Benson followed him.
No sooner had they come into the open space in front of the house
than they were seen. At the same instant, from the rear, in the
direction of the lake, came Mr. Munson and Mr. Dwight.
"We're caught!" cried Happy Harry.
He made a dash far the house, just as a man, carrying a box, rushed
"There it is! The model and papers are in that box!" cried Tom.
"Don't let them get away with it!"
The criminals were taken by surprise. With leveled weapons the
attacking party closed in on them. Mr. Damon raised his club
"Surrender! Surrender!" he cried. "We have you! Bless my stars, but
you're captured! Surrender!"
"It certainly looks so," admitted Anson Morse. "I guess they have
The man with the box made a sudden dash toward the woods, but Tom
was watching him. In an instant he sprang at him, and landed on the
fellow's back. The two went down in a heap, and when Tom arose he
had possession of the precious box.
"I have it! I have it!" he cried. "I've got dad's model back!"
The man who had had possession of the box quickly arose, and, before
any one could stop him, darted into the bushes.
"After him! Catch him! Bless my hat-band, stop him!" shouted Mr.
Instinctively his friends turned to pursue the fugitive, forgetting,
for the instant, the other criminals. The men were quick to take
advantage of this, and in a moment had disappeared in the dense
woods. Nor could any trace be found of the one with whom Tom had
"Pshaw! They got away from us!" cried Mr. Damon regretfully. "Let's
see if we can't catch them. Come on, we'll organize a posse and run
them down." He was eager for the chase, but his companions dissuaded
him. Tom had what he wanted, and he knew that his father would
prefer not to prosecute the men. The lad opened the box, and saw
that the model and papers were safe.
"Let those fellows go," advised the young inventor, and Mr. Damon
reluctantly agreed to this. "I guess we've seen the last of them,"
added the youth, but he and Mr. Swift had not, for the criminals
made further trouble, which will be told of in the second volume of
this series, to be called "Tom Swift and His Motor-Boat; or, The
Rivals of Lake Carlopa." In that our hero will be met in adventures
even more thrilling than those already related, and Andy Foger, who
so nearly ran Tom down in the automobile, will have a part in them.
"Now," said Mr. Damon, after it had been ascertained that no one was
injured, and that the box contained all of value that had been
stolen, "I suppose you are anxious to get back home, Tom, aren't
you? Will you let me take you in my car? Bless my spark plug, but
I'd like to have you along in case of another accident!"
The lad politely declined, however, and, with the valuable model and
papers safe on his motor-cycle, he started for Shopton. Arriving at
the first village after leaving the woods, Tom telephoned the good
news to his father, and that afternoon was safely at home, to the
delight of Mr. Swift and Mrs. Baggert.
The inventor lost no time in fully protecting his invention by
patents. As for the unprincipled men who made an effort to secure
it, they had so covered up their tracks that there was no way of
prosecuting them, nor could any action be held against Smeak &
Katch, the unscrupulous lawyers.
"Well," remarked Mr. Swift to Tom, a few nights after the recovery
of the model, "your motor-cycle certainly did us good service. Had
it not been for it I might never have gotten back my invention."
"Yes, it did come in handy," agreed the young inventor. "There's
that motor-boat, too. I wish I had it. I don't believe those fellows
will ever come back for it. I turned it over to the county
authorities, and they take charge of it for a while. I certainly had
some queer adventures since I got this machine from Mr. Damon,"
concluded Tom. I think my readers will agree with him.