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tom swift

The Nu Adventures of Tom Swift, Boy Inventor

by

Peter Ramon

- A Nu Prose arrangement based on selections from “The Adventures of Tom Swift” series by Victor Appleton, Grosset & Dunlap, 1911 – 1924


1.     Tom Swift and the Secret Plan

“That will give us something to go by,” Tom said.  Boulders were heaped up on boulders, and rocks upon rocks were piled up in heaps.  There were enough of them, they thought, to cope with one man, even if he was armed.  One of the government agents located some of the smuggled goods in a small town whose name was being kept secret for the moment.  He walked around with a big club, looking fierce.  It was highly likely that they would repeat the trick that night.

He sent the craft around in a long, sweeping motion.  This might be a big thing!  He was going to keep his eyes open.  They went fishing in a nearby lake and had some luck.  But he could not use his hands very well.  The whizz of the propellers carried some distance.  A great silence seemed to follow the terrific report.  Gentle as a bird, he made a landing not far from the gun.  He was rather anxious as to the outcome of the storm.  They changed the whole matter.  He had never thought of that.  Perhaps it could be done.

Inventing a number of small things, including useful articles for the house, was a sort of recreation for him.  Some of the men were as interested in it as he was.  Who knew how “freaky” the high explosive was, how likely to be set off by the least concussion?  “It was only an ordinary faint, caused by some slight electrical shocks,” he said.  They tried to make additional openings.  Before them was an awe-inspiring sight.  High into the air the great masses of stone were thrown.  He looked behind him somewhat apprehensively.

Nearly every day was misty, with gradations from mere drizzles to downpours.  He wished he could get rid of the rascally German.  (It was the verdict of all who witnessed the performance.)  He was now able to devote all his attention to the “frills.”  “I’ll always blame myself if Ned goes blind,” he said.  He was foolish enough to tell them about his formula.  He was wise enough to realize this.  He couldn’t help overhearing what they said in the hall.  One voice was low and rumbling, the other high-pitched and querulous.

The house was so cozy and quaint that it really gave him an appetite.  They deployed to different places of advantage.  It was now a roaring furnace of flames.  “We won’t decide right away,” he replied as cheerfully as he could.  He didn’t heed the cries of wonder that arose from below.

He had always been within easy reach.  He squelched him so hard, he guessed he’d never annoy her again.  At first he had been his usual bright and voluble self, but even his good spirits died away.  Every waking hour was crowded.  There might have been a dozen reasons for either of these things, he thought.  Beneath them sprawling in the heat of the Texas sun, a pioneer town sprang up like magic.  In the living room, the elder Swift fumed, as was his habit.  The hissing sound grew louder.  He danced around, wild with excitement.  He felt the old urge coming on, and he was hankering to get at it.

I might explain that near the spot where it was expected to fall had been computed as nearly as possible.  Everything was ready now.  “It would take considerable digging to open a way through that side of the mountain,” the man said.  It would be a big flood when it did come.  He held out a piece of wire rope.  On top of that came a steel block.  It looked like a bunch of excelsior, only yellow instead of white.

They were deep in the discussion of terms when Mary saw an automobile coming up the road.  Everything was on a miniature scale to save expense.  It proved to be a more serious case than at first he thought it would be. 

She flew upstairs and in a moment returned with the photograph.  Their clothes were so saturated and heavy they could hardly move.  He was now as cool and self-possessed as ever.  He had placed his reliance on steel as the material best suited to stand the strain.  He scrutinized it carefully and gave a sigh of relief.  “What do you mean by that?” asked Tom.  They never had so much bother with a contract.  It was the simple truth, and he knew it.

The questions came tumbling out of him.  He took advantage of a lull in the thundering reverberations.  The field sloped down to the beach of the lake.  Tom realized this.  His father shook his head.  Then he opened the window and looked out.  Flames were spouting higher and higher, licking up the remainder of the pile.  The day before he was to carry out his plans, he had received a letter.  The safe door was open and what was inside was burned to ashes.  He was sufficiently agile to escape from the automobile while it was still making good speed.

It was a pretty poor specimen of a modern building, out of all proportion to its size.  With keen eyes he began to set the automatic gauges.  He turned on a little more power.  The gang of unscrupulous and cowardly men was in a veritable panic of fear.  The earth trembled and there was a big sheet of flame, seen even in bright sunlight.  Into the transverse valley it tumbled and tossed.  His wildest hopes had been confirmed.  He did not seem to know the meaning of fear.

Tom winked at Ned.  He was not injured beyond some bruises.  A rider came nearer and nearer, wildly waving a flag.  He was more than repaid by the satisfaction of helping his country.  Tom, hastily clad, leaped on deck, followed by his chum.  He had to begin all over again, and he had many new problems to figure out.  The pieces flew in straight lines, so they were safe enough there.

 

 

2.    Tom Swift and the Hoard of Gold

He showed them how the light worked.  He escorted them off the premises.  Ned recognized a worthless character about the town.  He was on the lookout for the rest of the night.  The giant fairly lifted his prisoner off his feet.  He guessed he knew well enough without being told.  He was on the point of starting when a messenger boy came hurrying into the yard.  He wasn’t going to get into a discussion of the government’s right to impose duties.  He attracted the attention of his friends and quickly walked away.  So far no clues had developed.  He had news from one of the spies that a bold attempt would be made that night.

Tom and Ned did not remain to see what the returning crooks might think about the destruction of their home.  Frantically he pushed the button that called the elevator.  “It was hot enough as it was,” he said with a grim laugh.  He saw his friend’s face change after reading the epistle.  He noticed that his chum acted lonesome on his return.  “He didn’t seem able to get up,” he said.  They didn’t know anything was wrong until they smelled the smoke.  A rush of cool air followed, reviving them all.  He paused a moment, looking up at his assistant on the tower.  He hesitated for a moment before giving the final word.

What strange talk was this?  The doctor motioned for the young inventor to follow him out of the room.  He was wondering if he’d be able to go along to witness their first experiment.  (He’d helped carry him out of the laboratory when he almost died from suffocation.)  There came shouts of delight and encouragement when the crowd saw the work of his machine.  It was the strangest sight he ever saw.  But it just might give him the chance he was looking for.

He noticed the two men who came in the car.  He had guessed badly.  “Something’s wrong!” Ned said.  The roar of the motor drowned any human voice.  As their car went down the slope, the two men could be seen leaping from their machine.  He wished he had time to stop and see Mary, but he hadn’t.  To this end, he worked at night.  His encouraging call may have been unheard, but he would be obliged to take a chance on that.  They used heroic measures to bring the man back from the brink of the grave.  He warned her not to tell her relatives who she had befriended.

They concealed as far as possible their own despondency as to the outcome.  He was a mighty sick man.  They followed him on tiptoe into one of the rooms.  A heavy rumbling sound vibrated along the pipeline.  He led him on and got him to tell him what he knew about them.  It was all right, of course, trying to get better terms.  In the glimpse she got of his repulsive face, there seemed to be something she’d seen before.  Tom took it all in with a glance.  He stopped on the way to buy some candy and flowers.  Her praise was his greatest reward.

Having so suddenly burst into the store, he grabbed the man by the collar and whirled him about so they were face to face.  But the final payment was slow in coming.  At first they would hardly admit this, but at last faced the facts.  The rain deluged everything within a radius of hundreds of feet.  He stood almost petrified by the magnitude of the spectacle.  At the same time, his hand reached toward his hip pocket.  He knew who to count on when the job took intelligence.  He contented himself with a string of coarse expressions.  Offers for patent rights were beginning to flow in from all directions.  He stumbled against a ladder that had been left in the grass.  He didn’t think for a moment.  Their ridiculous story had been imposed on him.  In fact, he was a most entertaining talker.

He was about to start for the place where the diamonds were made.  Great heat and pressure are necessary to create these gems.  Tom saw him sprinting down the road.  He looked fearfully all around the shed before replying.  In his pocket, snugly tucked away, were the two stones Tom had given him.  He had left town, not having returned since.  There, advancing down the steep and dangerous trail, was a figure in white – the phantom.  She had not come there merely to ask for employment.  It showed that the men kept close track of their movements.  He really couldn’t say which direction to take to discover the secret.  They saw the reason a few seconds later.  “It’s just as easy to make them large as small,” Tom explained.

He’d supposed that the lightning had nothing to do with the diamonds.  He understood it now – he’d suspected it before.  They were given coffee to drink, snacks, and securely bound again.  He paid for the information but then he tricked them.  He caught sight of the gentleman who was always blessing himself.  He took the lead and made a dangerous turn around a shoulder of rock.  He started back in some alarm.  His fitful slumbers were disturbed by dreams of enormous caves, dark shadowy figures, and a red-hot steel box.

He wanted to spend the night where the miners congregate and listen to their talk.  It was a wild and desolate journey that they were traveling.  Yet he did not see how he could very well refuse.  There wasn’t any place that had worse lightning storms than there.  It was in their interest to keep the secret undiscovered.  They all picked up early the next morning.  A mass of black stone took the form and appearance of a giant’s head.

The storm came on rapidly, but there was a curious quietness in the air.  Sometimes he stayed out on the mountain a couple of days at a time.  They entered the house to think over matters.  He thought the man was odd – crazy, perhaps.  He didn’t imagine he would see him again.  He pressed a little electric button which illuminated the face of a small clock on the bureau.  He wanted him to let them have a chance to bid on them.  He’d taken risks before.  He was shadowed by a man he didn’t remember seeing.  For his own satisfaction, he wanted to let an expert look at the stones. 

It was quite cool and the campfire they sat about after supper was a big one.  He was glad, after all, that a scientist was coming with them.  He went to tell the others of the success of his talk.

His friends could see he was much worried.  He remembered her uncle well, who had been so closely associated with recovering the treasure during his recent undersea search.  He didn’t plan to be gone too long.  “He’d better be careful how he accuses us,” he blustered in his big voice.

Tom raced the motor while his men held the machine in place.  He only knew the fireworks firm’s members slightly.  He guessed they could have managed to swim ashore.  They were too busy to talk much.  They managed to come, by way of the stairs, down to their floor.  The whole place was at his disposal anytime.  His idea was on a bigger scale.  He leaned forward and looked eagerly down into the pit.

Tom first visited the man who had a candy machine.  He leaned over the side to watch the effect.  He tried to infuse some cheerfulness into his voice.  The boat with a hole in it suddenly lurched, there was a bubbling, gurgling sound, and then it quickly sank.  He easily understood the dislike of the men, upon whose heads earlier he had heaped coals of fire.  He feared his case was hopeless.  Naturally, it spoiled his aim somewhat.  All that remained was to combine the ingredients.  It seemed as if the bottom dropped out of everything when he lost the formula.  His eyes gleamed as he listened to this recital.  He gave the order to start the work.  He wanted him to watch with him and make some notes.  That was the story they told: he discounted the risk to himself and ran right in.


 

3.    Tom Swift and the Terrific Din

Tom grinned at the earnestness of Ned’s tone.  They were scalping them like regular Indians, he thought.  It was right in the heart of the newly developed region.  They had to incur a large initial expense for new tools.  He had some curiosity to see what he and his brother snakes would do.  He told him what he knew of him.  A hard-tempered edge cut into and splintered the rock.  They thought they’d struck a rich field.  After lunch they gathered around to resume work in a mechanical manner.  They knew that if his heart was set on it, nothing could change it.

Nothing essential had been overlooked.  They looked at the cashier’s check whose delay had been annoying.  He had not recognized them in their aviators’ suits.  “What happened to my son?” demanded the agitated blind man.   It looked dark and dreary to him.  Tom saw a sudden gleam that evidently came from a flashlight.  He pushed forward energetically in his experimental work.  From various sources he heard that they were furious at their failure.  Already ideas of improvements were thronging in his active mind.  Nothing would have given him greater pleasure than to ring the rascal’s neck.  Their plan had always been to save expense and time.  He always managed somehow or other to keep just within the law.  What he wanted them to do was a sin and a shame.

“Just sitting around and waiting is tiresome work too,” Ned said.  They sailed along until they were over the square in the forest, marked out by four lights.  In some manner the pressure was going up enormously.  They were rushing along as they never had before.  He thought they were talking about a “lantern,” not a “phantom.”  It was plainer than he thought it would be.  He took a seat in the library between them.  Finding a glaring light full in his face, he came to a halt.  He flew over his head.  He glanced at the wilderness that surrounded the little glade.

They tried to run things across the line afoot or in wagons.  An old pair of gloves protected his hands.  Some were of one opinion, some of another.  He did not seem terribly put out.  A moment later he started the machinery.  He was backed by the most powerful government in the world.  He was walking alone in the woods, listening to the birds sing.  They would give them a fight in the clouds if they had to.

This conversation took place several days after Tom’s accidental discovery.  He showed some surprising pictures on the screen.  Sometime after midnight he was awakened by the violent ringing of a bell.  “This game has so many ends, it‘s hard to know where to begin,” he winked as he whispered.

He acted promptly, for he realized the necessity.  Events had hedged him about since he began the work.  They had to throw some of it away because of some trouble which no one knew about.  They all stood on their tiptoes, and opened their mouths to lessen the shock.  All this stuff gave him a headache.  They made it in different shapes so it would lie loose.  He saw an officer resplendent in gold trimmings with many medals.  He promised to let Tom know the result of the formal report.  The deadly, charged wires that formed a protecting cordon had been cut by an experienced hand, probably wearing rubber gloves, who came prepared for the purpose.

The office was quite upset.  A little later, the excitement had died down.  As he spoke there came a tremendous noise from the patio.  He didn’t want to stop until he had things moving in better shape.  He was here, there, and everywhere, directing matters.  Some preliminary work had been done.  He nodded his head to show that he understood the danger of his task.  The ponderous piece of steel was fastened to the device.  He took precautions that only men who could be implicitly trusted were included in the expedition.  “And now for some more hard work,” remarked Ned.

They felt that this was their only chance to get on the right trail.  He wanted to know, for purely scientific reasons, if lightning ever melted rocks.  They were a joy to look at.  He fairly begged the proprietor to sell him some.  “It was a terrific lot of earth that slid away,” he said.  He recognized the tone of his eccentric friend.  He wondered if it was a wisp of fog, a swirling of the night mist, or a defect of vision.   He’d been worried ever since he saw him head that way.  His talk was too indefinite.  They entered the storeroom casually.   Tom blushed and smiled.  They were panting from the exertion of the run up the mountain.  There was a good storm gathering.  The roar and clatter of the grinding machine made talk impossible.  They were likely to lose their way, for it was a trail that was seldom traveled.  It was a daring plan but it seemed to be the best one to follow.

He made a grab for something as he ran.  Cries wakened the sleepers in the tent.  He seemed to dissolve into the misty shadows of the night.  He saw his eyes staring in a suspicious manner.  He made a sudden turn in the passage.  Looking back toward the place they had been, they started forward again.

He got their wireless apparatus in good shape.  Tom made up his mind to send a message to Mary in care of his father.  A crackling sound was heard.  Gripping the rim of the big wheel in a strong embrace, he seemed bound to be scattered about.  Being harmless in the open, anxiously they lingered.  It was only a theory.  Sufficient to say that after some annoying pauses caused by breaks in the machinery, heated in an immense furnace, the great core was bored.  With the danger narrowly averted, each one confirmed the belief that the young inventor had made a wonderful weapon.

He was glad to know what the trouble was, for he could remedy it.  His friends led him away.  He didn’t know just what to think.  “They don’t need to be scared anymore,” put in the elder Mr. Swift.

The hurricane seemed to have blown itself out.  A number of spectators staggered back.  They felt sure their time had come.  He got back a substantial sum for his investment.  He thought he was entitled to a rest.  It went farther than he thought it would.  It was pitiful to see the old man try to do tasks beyond his strength.  He hastened out, murmuring something about “rash and foolhardy people.”

“Signal for the giant!” Tom cried.  Ned pressed the button.  Tom got into something a little more substantial than his pajamas.  His back was towards them.  He couldn’t leave his post.  He wanted to surprise them.  They were soon traversing the road taken by the spy.  Failing to obtain the desired information, he realized that his chances were at an end.

He ran as close as necessary.  The damage was not past redemption.  It was clearly getting beyond the control of the regular department.  “It can’t be possible!  Something must be done!” said another voice.  “Take us out of here!”  Straight and true as an arrow Tom headed for the fiery pillar!  He gave her all she had.  Everything seemed against him.  Ned could not repress a gasp of pity.  It was pointed out that he might lapse into a stupor again.  He didn’t want to see them until he could accuse them.  The insurance rates were unusually high.  Mary said something about their faithful old retainer being in trouble.  That laugh did him more good than medicine.

  

 

4.    Tom Swift in the Valley of Rogues

Tom pointed to the airship into which the tanks of chemicals had been hoisted.  The elder Mr. Swift had been quite ill, and it was thought he would have to give up helping Tom.  He made better arrangements for one-man control.  He wished he would take a ride with him, which brought about a curious situation.  “I feel that I need your help,” said the young inventor.  His head was woozy from thinking.  Everything he did lately went wrong.  He studied over his formula a bit.  He wanted to approach the subject from a new angle.  He needed a little capital, and his uncle lent it to him.  He had been humbly standing around, waiting to hear the news.

He saw, not a man, but a woman ascending the knotted rope.  Meanwhile, Ned kept the light on the tossing boat.  He was very fond of old furniture.  He looked apprehensively toward the door.  But he was not done yet.  It had come to him in the previous few minutes.  “Here’s something new I guess may interest you.”  His chum gave a gasp of surprise.  “We must find the rest of this scrap of paper, and paste it together.”  Because it was getting late, he wanted to circle around and find a good place to land.  The camera was clicking away at a great rate, taking picture after picture on the old roll of film.  He was not a vindictive youth.  He just wanted to keep out of the way of everybody but his own cronies.  Somehow, it seemed of late there had been many demands on him, demands that had been hard and trying.  “I’ll undertake the work!” exclaimed Tom.  “I’ll see you in a couple of days when I formulate my plans.”

A tour of the house had been completed, and nothing of a suspicious nature had been found.  They all went up through a scuttle, nevertheless, and saw where some posts had been fastened to the roof.  Everyone had tense nerves, waiting for what would happen.  He didn’t want to see any of them killed or hurt.  They dodged and twisted, now going up, now going down; they even tried to turn back.  But they could not escape.

He was going to make another effort to tell it.  He started the generating machine which sent the powerful “lifting gas” into the big bag overhead.  His swelling veins and the muscles of his hands and arms stood out knotted.  He arose from his kneeling position.  He stood looking on, an interested spectator.  They went into the big shop now, to see how the silent motor worked.  He gave his Dad a piece of paper to read.

He went out every night and cruised around the most likely places that they would rush across the border.  All at once every boy and girl made a beeline for safety.  “My, this is a bad storm!” the elder Swift said, as a blast careened the ship.

He felt he was at a disadvantage on account of his blindness.  For some reason or other they were reluctant to deal with him.  He had to look out for the future of his daughter.  In spite of the desire for speed, he would not allow any careless work.  For some unexplainable reason, the valve started to leak.  The time of delivery was uncertain.  He was unaware of his enemies’ plotting.  The unscrupulous bunch was becoming desperate.  He patted lovingly his new drill.  He rolled his eyes in astonishment.  He was too overcome to make any remark.  How careless of him to have overlooked that, he thought.  He handed it to Ned with a flourish.  The visitors said good-night and took their leave.  He glared reproachfully at him as he polished his glasses.

He had foreseen that the apparatus would have to be worked from a distance, and he provided a long handle made of piping for that purpose. Slowly the valve moved forward.  Anything that he said went.  They’d doubtless figured the matter out and knew that their figures were right.  The door was opened by one of the most charming girls imaginable.  He thought it might result in a pretty big deal.

But before that wished-for moment could be reached, there were many things that claimed his attention.  In the red glare of the fire, he worked like a demon.  Here the fire resumed its devastating march.  He dropped his usual sad manner and became talkative.  It was an unexpected pleasure.  The judge looked at the three men keenly.  He too had troubles to adjust and was kept as busy “as a one-armed paperhanger with a rash.”  “What do you mean by that?” inquired Mr. Damon with a worried look.  He stepped back hastily and his foot struck a box on the floor, and he fell backward through the store window.  He wanted to get back to his hotel before a crowd gathered.  After midnight there was a knock on the door.  He had his fingers to his lips to impose silence.  He moved stealthily down the fence.

A man laid a hand on her arm.  He judged them by his own warped and twisted standards.  He was planning to have revenge for his fanciful injury.  He began to smoke his vile pipe furiously.

He put in his time making a number of scientific observations.  Certain ingredients were put into a machine in little balls, then pulverized and taken out in powdery form, which ran a gasoline motor chug-chug-chugging away in the corner.  By the flashing lightning bolts they would see what luck they had in this lonely place on top of the mountain.  He was just getting on that track himself.  All about were layers of asbestos and other substances that were non-conductors of heat.

What conclusion they had reached, the adventurers could only guess.  No one could tell when the men would return.  The scientist showed curious, livid scars on the stone faces of the peaks.  He made a dash for the door through which the mysterious man had disappeared.  It wouldn’t be healthy to interfere with him, he thought.  It was not very pleasant but they made the best of it.  Fortunately, the opening was concealed from the view of those in the main place.  He told her something of the proposed quest.  He replaced the bushes over the entrance.  A great valley lay at their feet.  A speck seemed to be moving on the trail below.  He did not like strangers prowling around.  He thought he had been overtaken by some supernatural visitor.  He wondered what joy she got from life.

 


5.    Tom Swift and The Pleasure Machine

Now Tom thought he could prove it!  It could only be made by a process bequeathed to him by a Frenchman.  He said he would check them over to find out what mistake happened.  He spoke more hopefully than he had spoken since the accident.  “When those fellows want more machinery, let them apply somewhere else,” said the elder Mr. Swift.  His face was a pleasant one, though marred now by the vacant look in his eyes.  A big chunk of beef was cluttering up the plane.  He moseyed along toward the house.  They didn’t mean to seem harsh.  His eyes were roving about.  He saw what looked like a second trail leading down the mountain.  Not that he was afraid of danger, but he preferred to meet it in the open.  He’d been tricked, that’s all!  The next thing he remembered was eating a rude meal.  As it turned out, this was the luckiest thing he could have done.  It seemed they took them all as casual strangers.


He knew it was against the regulations, but he had fixed that.  He was the busiest man in the world.  He thought he would give him less to eat.  They selected a more secluded spot to remain in.  They were deeper than he gave them credit for.  Maybe he was faking a bluff to cover up some other operations?  They still had a speed equal to theirs.  If they were honest and had no bad intentions, why were they sneaking up?


He was as good as his word.  They bowed and shook hands.  He perfected several little matters.  His enthusiasm was unbounded.  It was a most timely intervention.  He didn’t know he was running on so.  It would only give her unwelcome publicity if he punished him.  There was something in her tone that piqued his curiosity.  Still, they seemed as far as ever from their goal.  With a word of thanks, she hurried home.


It was an ideal place to camp, though very lonesome.   He had been planning it for a long time.  They refused to say who the letters were from.  From his pocket he drew a heavy piece of steel.  It was very wearying.  So it was arranged.  It was like a soldier’s call to battle.  They put it back into the shed.  At that moment, that part of the ship was in a bright glare, and there in the rays was stretched out an Indian, comfortably sleeping.  He made a tour of the place and the odds and ends of furniture that it contained.


He pulled aside some thick bushes, and pointed to a hole which was disclosed.  He was looking to see if any of the men were about.  They were once more alone in the shop.  The man said a storm was coming, and the mountain vibrated slightly.  He agreed to meet them later.  They hardly dared look down into the chasm, filled in part by rocks and boulders tossed about.


It was all in a day’s work.  He had about all that the law allowed him to carry.  She felt right at home with someone to nurse. She looked at the figure lying on the grass, and said, “I know you!”  He saw the lurid light of the flames which were dying away, and realized his position.  He’d passed the time of day with him many a time.  He did not know where he was or what had happened.  He showed some signs of agitation.  But it was all in vain.


“No man on stilts could walk that way,” he said confidently.   The others said he got tired and went away.  He thought they would have some astonishing results.  He nearly dropped his opera glasses, which he had focused on the airship.  He drew them off on a false scent.  “Have you captured a wild animal?” he asked.  They saw a flash of light that came through a crack in a shutter or a shade.  They watched the wagon pass on out of sight in the darkness.  He arranged some incandescent lights on high branches.  He was thinking of going back.  He didn’t know what made him bring it along, and didn’t expect to use it.  It was a common enough name, as if that mattered.  It took away his confidence.  He took refuge behind a small hill.  He indicated an immense boulder near the place where the two gulches joined.


They would proceed cautiously.  He had a dislike of shedding blood.  He had been sent to spy on them and discover their secret.  Another communication came to him by wireless.  He stepped aside, revealing the features of Tom’s eccentric friend.  “I guess she doesn’t need a second dose, seeing how effective the treatment has been,” said Ned.  He needed more illumination than the flames themselves.  She faced him with what was meant to be a smile.


“What do you feel like eating?” he asked with a smile.  He opened the old-fashioned ground glass door and ushered Mary in.  To their agreeable surprise, there seemed to be less smoke.  They were arranged to burst as they fell.  He had seen him there late at night lots of times.  They had no time to waste on an old black man who had seen his best of days.  The smile died from his honest face.


They would have to lose some of their goods, he reckoned.  The roar of the water below could be heard distinctly now.  He pointed to a speck in the sky.  The fellow, whatever his object, had made trouble enough that time.  The creek was now rapidly becoming a raging torrent.  Dazed, with their muscles sore, they picked themselves up from the ground.


It was a grand day for a spin in the air.  A cry of horror burst from Tom and Ned.  “I can’t make promises,” he said.  Sure enough, the next day he arrived at the farm.


They sailed off into the darkness.  There they could find a place to hide.  He wanted to get a view of who the chicken thief was.  And then he saw a wonderful sight.  All the surrounding territory lit up with a radiance resembling daylight!  The great propeller blades beat the air.  There was no sound.  He grabbed hold of a tin can on the floor.  They drew nearer to the patch of woods over which they were hovering.  They were the slickest scoundrels he’d ever tackled.


It was within a few days of the time when he was to call in a committee of experts.  They made fun of him because of his size.  “Don’t go,” urged Tom.  “Wait until we get more evidence against them.”


He thought he would make that his destination.  He thought it was foolish to go another hundred feet.  He told him a lot about his own experiences, yet even with him his acquaintance was slight.  It was something new for them, but they had the facilities to manage it right.  He had a great amount of business to transact, but it occupied the time and made waiting more endurable.


Tom gazed idly but approvingly about as he scanned the list.  He noted she had not heard a word of what he said.  He wanted to say goodbye to his father.  There wasn’t a life-net made that could hold up a person jumping from a ten-story height.  What good would it do?


In fact, it was a very business-like warning…  After some hot coffee, they felt much better.  He knew Tom had a clear case against him, and did not dare answer.  They evidently thought him insane.  He’d just had some startling adventures.

 

6.    Tom Swift in the Palace of Tears

There was a reason why he was rigging up this oil field outfit.  A scrap of paper, evidently torn from a letter, had only three words on it.  He barely had time to move aside.  He drew himself up pompously.  He walked some distance after getting out of the vehicle.  He thought they must try to capture him.  “Tom did most of it.  I only helped a little here and there,” Ned admitted.  He knew other mail must have come for him.  “I feel like celebrating.”  They were sailing swiftly across the open space in the wilderness.

The petty jealousy of his rival passed away.  He asked to look at it again.  He seemed in a bad way mentally as well as physically.  They would soon tell if they were aware that they were following them.  It was crude in form, not having received its final polish.  He took the wheel while he jotted down some memoranda before they got away from him.  He tried to wrestle free of Ned’s stranglehold grip.

Now a slower speed satisfied our hero.  It was a constant warfare.  He had devised an ingenious screw mechanism.  That was all the test he needed.  It was a strange discovery.  There wasn’t enough fire to broil a beefsteak.

A midnight prowler arrived for another attempt while they cast the cannon.  He dropped the stowaway off.  The new powder that the government accepted became a big problem.  The vast cavern on the mountain held prisoners.  The impossible occurred.  The finishing touches were applied.  A forced landing warned them away from making queer repairs.  It was a close shave.  They were caught in the act.  The bursting dam motivated his bravery.  It was a heavy load.  Suspicious actions hovering o’er the border sapped the conclusion.  A mysterious man on a weary search saw flashing gems.  Tom was worried.  Capping the gusher under suspicious circumstances, on the verge, through the window recklessly driving, he made an attractive offer.  However, a searchlight was needed.  They were off to Sandy Hook!  What the Indian saw in his dire peril made them beware of the outcome.  Fighting the fire, off for the west, closing the deal, making the diamonds, shooting the giant gun – he was on hand throughout.  It was a successful trial.  The dastardly plot was kicked for a goal!  He got a fright.  Mary was rescued from the lake.  Now Ned was missing!  Broken bonds made for a strange story.  Victory was a test of courage.  The explosion trapped them.  He predicted the landslide.  Now they were off for Panama, on the longest shot, to foil a rascal.  The pursuit was his newest invention.

 

-- August, 2010

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