Tom Swift and His Wireless Message
The Castaways of Earthquake Island
by Victor Appleton
I An Appeal For Aid
II Miss Nestor's News
III Tom Knocks Out Andy
IV Mr. Damon Will Go Along
V Vol-Planing To Earth
VI The New Airship
VII Making Some Changes
VIII Andy Foger's Revenge
IX The Whizzer Flies
X Over The Ocean
XI A Night Of Terror
XII A Downward Glide
XIII On Earthquake Island
XIV A Night In Camp
XV The Other Castaway
XVI An Alarming Theory
XVII A Mighty Shock
XVIII Mr. Jenks Has Diamonds
XIX Secret Operations
XX The Wireless Plant
XXI Messages Into Space
XXII Anxious Days
XXIII A Reply In The Dark
XXIV "We Are Lost!"
XXV The Rescue-Conclusion
Chapter I An Appeal For Aid
Tom Swift stepped from the door of the machine shop, where he was at
work making some adjustments to the motor of his airship, and
glanced down the road. He saw a cloud of dust, which effectually
concealed whatever was causing it.
"Some one must be in a hurry this morning," the lad remarked, "Looks
like a motor speeding along. My! but we certainly do need rain," he
added, as he looked up toward the sky. "It's very dusty. Well, I may
as well get back to work. I'll take the airship out for a flight
this afternoon, if the wind dies down a bit."
The young inventor, for Tom Swift himself had built the airship, as
well as several other crafts for swift locomotion, turned to reenter
Something about the approaching cloud of dust, however, held his
attention. He glanced more intently at it.
"If it's an automobile coming along," he murmured, "it's moving very
slowly, to make so much fuss. And I never saw a motor-cycle that
would kick up as much sand, and not speed along more. It ought to be
here by now. I wonder what it can be?"
The cloud of highway dirt rolled along, making some progress toward
Tom's house and the group of shops and other buildings surrounding
it. But, as the lad had said, the dust did not move at all quickly
in comparison to any of the speedy machines that might be causing
it. And the cloud seemed momentarily to grow thicker and thicker.
"I wonder if it could be a miniature tornado, or a cyclone or
whirlwind?" and Tom spoke aloud, a habit of his when he was
thinking, and had no one to talk to. "Yet it can hardly be that." he
went on. "Guess I'll watch and see what it is."
Nearer and nearer came the dust cloud. Tom peered anxiously ahead, a
puzzled look on his face. A few seconds later there came from the
midst of the obscuring cloud a voice, exclaiming:
"G'lang there now, Boomerang! Keep to' feet a-movin' an' we sho'
will make a record. 'Tain't laik we was a autermobiler, er a
electricity car, but we sho' hab been goin' sence we started. Yo'
sho' done yo'se'f proud t'day, Boomerang, an' I'se gwine t' keep mah
promise an' gib yo' de bestest oats I kin find. Ah reckon Massa Tom
Swift will done say we brought dis yeah message t' him as quick as
Then there followed the sound of hoofbeats on the dusty road, and
the rattle of some many-jointed vehicle, with loose springs and
"Eradicate Sampson!" exclaimed Tom. "But who would ever think that
the colored man's mule could get up such speed as that cloud of dust
indicates. His mule's feet must be working overtime, but he goes
backward about as often as he moves forward. That accounts for it.
There's lots of dust, but not much motion."
Once more, from the midst of the ball-like cloud of dirt came the
voice of the colored man:
"Now behave yo'se'f, Boomerang. We'm almost dere an' den yo' kin sit
down an' rest if yo' laik. Jest keep it up a little longer, an'
we'll gib Massa Tom his telephone. G'lang now, Boomerang."
The tattoo of hoofbeats was slowing up now, and the cloud of dust
was not so heavy. It was gradually blowing away. Tom Swift walked
down to the fence that separated the house, grounds and shops from
the road. As he got there the sounds of the mule's progress, and the
rattle of the wagon, suddenly ceased.
"G'lang! G'lang! Don't yo' dare t' stop now, when we am most dere!"
cried Eradicate Sampson. "Keep a-movin', Boomerang!"
"It's all right, Eradicate. I'm here," called Tom, and when the last
of the dust had blown away, the lad waved his hand to an aged
colored man, who sat upon the seat of perhaps the most dilapidated
wagon that was ever dignified by such a name. It was held together
with bits of wire, rope and strings, and each of the four wheels
leaned out at a different angle. It was drawn by a big mule, whose
bones seemed protruding through his skin, but that fact evidently
worried him but little, for now the animal was placidly sleeping,
while standing up, his long ears moving slowly to and fro.
"Am dat yo', Massa Tom?" asked Eradicate, ceasing his task of
jerking on the lines, to which operation the mule paid not the least
"Yes, I'm here, Rad," replied Tom, smiling. "I came out of my shop
to see what all the excitement was about. How did you ever get your
mule to make so much dust?"
"I done promise him an extra helpin' ob oats ef he make good time,"
said the colored man. "An' he done it, too. Did yo' see de dust we
"I sure did, but you didn't do much else. And you didn't make very
good time. I watched you, and you came along like an ice wagon after
a day's work on the Fourth of July. You were going fast, but moving
"I 'spects we was, Massa Tom," was the colored man's answer. "But
Boomerang done better dan I 'spected he would. I done tole him yo'd
be in a hurry t' git yo' telephone, an' he sho' did trot along."
"My telephone?" repeated Tom, wonderingly. "What have you and your
mule Boomerang to do with my telephone? That's up in the house."
"No, it ain't! it's right yeah in mah pocket," chuckled Eradicate,
opening a ragged coat, and reaching for something. "I got yo'
telephone right yeah." he went on. "De agent at de station see me
dribin' ober dis way, an' he done ast he t' deliber it. He said as
how he ain't got no messenger boy now, 'cause de one he done hab
went on a strike fo' five cents mo' a day. So I done took de
telephone," and with that the colored man pulled out a crumpled
"Oh, you mean a telegram," said Tom, with a laugh, as he took the
message from the odd colored man.
"Well, maybe it's telegraf, but I done understood de agent t' say
telephone. Anyhow, dere it is. An' I s'pects we'd better git along,
The mule never moved, though Eradicate yanked on the reins, and used
a splintered whip with energy.
"I said as how we'd better git along, Boomerang," went on the
darkey, raising his voice, "Dinnah am mos' ready, an' I'm goin' t'
giv yo' an extra helpin' ob oats."
The effect of these words seemed magical. The mule suddenly came to
life, and was about to start off.
"I done thought dat would cotch yo', Boomerang," chuckled Eradicate.
"Wait a minute, Rad," called Tom, who was tearing open the envelope
of the telegram. "I might want to send an answer back by you. I
wonder who is wiring me now?"
He read the message slowly, and Eradicate remarked:
"'Taint no kind ob use, Massa Tom, fo' t' send a message back wif
"Why not?" asked the young inventor, looking up from the sheet of
"'Case as how I done promised Boomerang his airman, an' he won't do
nothin' till he has it. Ef I started him back t' town now he would
jest lay down in de road. I'll take de answer back fo' you dis
"All right, perhaps that will do," assented Tom. "I haven't quite
got the hang of this yet. Drop around this afternoon, Rad," and as
the colored man, who, with his mule Boomerang, did odd jobs around
the village, started off down the highway, in another cloud of dust,
Tom Swift resumed the reading of the message.
"Hum, this is rather queer," he mused, when having read it once, he
began at it again. "It must have cost him something to send all this
over the wire. He could just as well have written it. So he wants my
help, eh? Well, I never heard of him, and he may be all right, but I
had other plans, and I don't know whether I can spare the time to go
to Philadelphia or not. I'll have to think it over. An electric
airship, eh? He's sort of following along the lines of my
inventions. Wants my aid--hum--well, I don't know--"
Tom's musings were suddenly cut short by the approach of an elderly
gentleman, who was walking slowly down the path that led from the
house to the country highway which ran in front of it.
"A telegram, Tom?" asked the newcomer.
"Yes, dad," was the reply. "I was just coming in to ask your advice
about it. Eradicate brought it to me."
"What, with his mule, Boomerang?" and the gentleman seemed much
amused. "How did he ever get up speed enough to deliver a telegram?"
"Oh, Eradicate has some special means he uses on his mule when he's
in a hurry. But listen to this message, dad. It's from a Mr. Hosmer
Fenwick, of Philadelphia. He says:"
"'Tom Swift--Can you come on to Philadelphia at once and aid me in
perfecting my new electric airship? I want to get it ready for a
flight before some government experts who have promised to purchase
several if it works well. I am in trouble, and I can't get it to
rise off the ground. I need help. I have heard about your airship,
and the other inventions you and your father have perfected, and I
am sure you can aid me. I am stuck. Can you hurry to the Quaker
City? I will pay you well. Answer at once!'"
"Well?" remarked Mr. Swift, questioningly, as his son finished
reading the telegram. "What are you going to do about it, Tom?"
"I don't exactly know, dad. I was going to ask your advice. What
would you do? Who is this Mr. Fenwick?"
"Well, he is an inventor of some note, but he has had many failures.
I have not heard of him in some years until now. He is a gentleman
of wealth, and can be relied upon to do just as he says. We are
slightly acquainted. Perhaps it would be well to aid him, if you can
spare the time. Not that you need the money, but inventors should be
mutually helpful. If you feel like going to Philadelphia, and aiding
him in getting his electric airship in shape, you have my
"I don't know," answered Tom, doubtfully. "I was just getting my
monoplane in shape for a little flight. It was nothing particular,
though. Dad, I think I will take a run to Philadelphia, and see if I
can help Mr. Fenwick. I'll wire him that I am coming, to-morrow or
"Very well," assented Mr. Swift, and then he and his son went into
one of the shops, talking of a new invention which they were about
Tom little knew what a strange series of adventures were to follow
his decision to go to the Quaker City, nor the danger involved in
aiding Mr. Fenwick to operate his electric airship.
Chapter II Miss Nestor's News
"When do you think you will go to Philadelphia, Tom?" asked Mr.
Swift, a little later, as the aged inventor and his son were looking
over some blueprints which Garret Jackson, an engineer employed by
them, had spread out on a table.
"I don't exactly know," was the answer. "It's quite a little run
from Shopton, because I can't get a through train. But I think I'll
"Why do you go by train?" asked Mr. Jackson.
"Why--er--because--" was Tom's rather hesitating reply. "How else
would I go?"
"Your monoplane would be a good deal quicker, and you wouldn't have
to change cars," said the engineer. "That is if you don't want to
take out the big airship. Why don't you go in the monoplane?"
"By Jove! I believe I will!" exclaimed Tom. "I never thought of
that, though it's a wonder I didn't. I'll not take the Red Cloud, as
she's too hard to handle alone. But the Butterfly will be just the
thing," and Tom looked over to where a new monoplane rested on the
three bicycle wheels which formed part of its landing frame. "I
haven't had it out since I mended the left wing tip," he went on,
"and it will also be a good chance to test my new rudder. I believe
I will go to Philadelphia by the Butterfly."
"Well, as long as that's settled, suppose you give us your views on
this new form of storage battery," suggested Mr. Swift, with a fond
glance at his son, for Tom's opinion was considered valuable in
matters electrical, as those of you, who have read the previous
books in this series, well know.
The little group in the machine shop was soon deep in the discussion
of ohms, amperes, volts and currents, and, for a time, Tom almost
forgot the message calling him to Philadelphia.
Taking advantage of the momentary lull in the activities of the
young inventor, I will tell my readers something about him, so that
those who have no previous introduction to him may feel that he is a
Tom Swift lived with his father, Barton Swift, a widower, in the
village of Shopton, New York. There was also in the household Mrs.
Baggert, the aged housekeeper, who looked after Tom almost like a
mother. Garret Jackson, an engineer and general helper, also lived
with the Swifts.
Eradicate Sampson might also be called a retainer of the family, for
though the aged colored man and his mule Boomerang did odd work
about the village, they were more often employed by Tom and his
father than by any one else. Eradicate was so called because, as he
said, he "eradicated" the dirt. He did whitewashing, made gardens,
and did anything else that was needed. Boomerang was thus named by
his owner, because, as Eradicate said, "yo' nebber know jest what
dat mule am goin' t' do next. He may go forward or he may go
backward, jest laik them Australian boomerangs."
There was another valued friend of the family, Wakefield Damon by
name, to whom the reader will be introduced in due course. And then
there was Mary Nestor, about whom I prefer to let Tom tell you
himself, for he might be jealous if I talked too much about her.
In the first book of this series, called "Tom Swift and His Motor-Cycle,"
there was told how he became possessed of the machine, after
it had nearly killed Mr. Damon, who was learning to ride it. Mr.
Damon, who had a habit of "blessing" everything from his collar
button to his shoe laces, did not "bless" the motor-cycle after it
tried to climb a tree with him; and he sold it to Tom very cheaply.
Tom repaired it, invented some new attachments for it, and had a
number of adventures on it. Not the least of these was trailing
after a gang of scoundrels who tried to get possession of a valuable
patent model belonging to Mr. Swift.
Our second book, called "Tom Swift and His Motor-Boat," related some
exciting times following the acquisition by the young inventor of a
speedy craft which the thieves of the patent model had stolen. In
the boat Tom raced with Andy Foger, a town bully, and beat him. Tom
also took out on pleasure trips his chum, Ned Newton, who worked in
a Shopton bank, and the two had fine times together. Need I also say
that Mary Nestor also had trips in the motor-boat? Besides some other
stirring adventures in his speedy craft Tom rescued, from a burning
balloon that fell into the lake, the aeronaut, John Sharp. Later Mr.
Sharp and Tom built an airship, called the Red Cloud, in which they
had some strenuous times.
Their adventures in this craft of the air form the basis for the
third book of the series, entitled "Tom Swift and His Airship." In
the Red Cloud, Tom and his friends, including Mr. Damon, started to
make a record flight. They left Shopton the night when the bank
vault was blown open, and seventy-five thousand dollars stolen.
Because of evidence given by Andy Foger, and his father, suspicion
pointed to Tom and his friends as the robbers, and they were
pursued. But they turned the tables by capturing the real burglars,
and defeating the mean plans of the Fogers.
Not satisfied with having mastered the air Tom and his father turned
their attention to the water. Mr. Swift perfected a new type of
craft, and in the fourth book of the series, called "Tom Swift and
His Submarine," you may read how he went after a sunken treasure.
The party had many adventures, and were in no little danger from
their enemies before they reached the wreck with its store of gold.
The fifth book of the series, named "Tom Swift and His Electrical
Runabout," told how Tom built the speediest car on the road, and won
a prize with it, and also saved a bank from ruin.
Tom had to struggle against odds, not only in his inventive work,
but because of the meanness of jealous enemies, including Andy
Foger, who seemed to bear our hero a grudge of long standing. Even
though Tom had, more than once, thrashed Andy well, the bully was
always seeking a chance to play some mean trick on the young
inventor. Sometimes he succeeded, but more often the tables were
It was now some time since Tom had won the prize in his electric car
and, in the meanwhile he had built himself a smaller airship, or,
rather, monoplane, named the Butterfly. In it he made several
successful trips about the country, and gave exhibitions at numerous
aviation meets; once winning a valuable prize for an altitude
flight. In one trip he had met with a slight accident, and the
monoplane had only just been repaired after this when he received
the message summoning him to Philadelphia.
"Well, Tom," remarked his father that afternoon, "if you are going
to the Quaker City, to see Mr. Fenwick to-morrow, you'd, better be
getting ready. Have you wired him that you will come?"
"No, I haven't, dad," was the reply. "I'll get a message ready at
once, and when Eradicate comes back I'll have him take it to the
"I wouldn't do that, Tom."
"Trust it to Eradicate. He means all right, but there's no telling
when that mule of his may lie down in the road, and go to sleep.
Then your message won't get off, and Mr. Fenwick may be anxiously
waiting for it. I wouldn't like to offend him, for, though he and I
have not met in some years, yet I would be glad if you could do him
a favor. Why not take the message yourself?"
"Guess I will, dad. I'll run over to Mansburg in my electric car,
and send the message from there. It will go quicker, and, besides, I
want to get some piano wire to strengthen the wings of my
"All right, Tom, and when you telegraph to Mr. Fenwick, give him my
regards, and say that I hope his airship will be a success. So it's
an electric one, eh? I wonder how it works? But you can tell me when
you come back."
"I will, dad. Mr. Jackson, will you help me charge the batteries of
my car? I think they need replenishing. Then I'll get right along to
Mansburg was a good-sized city some miles from the village of
Shopton, and Tom and his father had frequent business there.
The young inventor and the engineer soon had the electric car in
readiness for a swift run, for the charging of the batteries could
be done in much less than the time usual for such an operation,
owing to a new system perfected by Tom. The latter was soon speeding
along the road, wondering what sort of an airship Mr. Fenwick would
prove to have, and whether or not it could be made to fly.
"It's easy enough to build an airship," mused Tom, "but the
difficulty is to get them off the ground, and keep them there." He
knew, for there had been several failures with his monoplane before
it rose like a bird and sailed over the tree-tops.
The lad was just entering the town, and had turned around a corner,
twisting about to pass a milk wagon, when he suddenly saw, darting
out directly in the path of his car, a young lady.
"Look out!" yelled Tom, ringing his electric gong, at the same time
shutting off the current, and jamming on the powerful brakes.
There was a momentary scream of terror from the girl, and then, as
she looked at Tom, she exclaimed:
"Why, Tom Swift! What are you trying to do? Run me down?"
"Mary--Miss Nestor!" ejaculated our hero, in some confusion.
He had brought his car to a stop, and had thrown open the door,
alighting on the crossing, while a little knot of curious people
"I didn't see you," went on the lad. "I came from behind the milk
"It was my fault," Miss Nestor hastened to add. "I, too, was waiting
for the milk wagon to pass, and when it got out of my way, I darted
around the end of it, without looking to see if anything else was
coming. I should have been more careful, but I'm so excited that I
hardly know what I'm doing."
"Excited? What's the matter?" asked Tom, for he saw that his friend
was not her usual calm self. "Has anything happened, Mary?"
"Oh, I've such news to tell you!" she exclaimed.
"Then get in here, and we'll go on." advised Tom. "We are collecting
a crowd. Come and take a ride; that is if you have time."
"Of course I have," the girl said, with a little blush, which Tom
thought made her look all the prettier. "Then we can talk. But where
are you going?"
"To send a message to a gentleman in Philadelphia, saying that I
will help him out of some difficulties with his new electric
airship. I'm going to take a run down there in my monoplane,
Butterfly, to-morrow, and--"
"My! to hear you tell it, one would think it wasn't any more to make
an airship flight than it was to go shopping," interrupted Mary, as
she entered the electric car, followed by Tom, who quickly sent the
vehicle down the street.
"Oh, I'm getting used to the upper air," he said. "But what is the
news you were to tell me?"
"Did you know mamma and papa had gone to the West Indies?" asked the
"No! I should say that was news. When did they go? I didn't know
they intended to make a trip."
"Neither did they; nor I, either. It was very sudden. They sailed
from New York yesterday. Mr. George Hosbrook, a business friend of
papa's, offered to take them on his steam yacht, Resolute. He is
making a little pleasure trip, with a party of friends, and he
thought papa and mamma might like to go."
"He wired to them, they got ready in a rush, caught the express to
New York, and went off in such a hurry that I can hardly realize it
yet. I'm left all alone, and I'm in such trouble!"
"Well, I should say that was news," spoke Tom.
"Oh, you haven't heard the worst yet," went on Mary. "I don't call
the fact that papa and mamma went off so suddenly much news. But the
cook just left unexpectedly, and I have invited a lot of girl
friends to come and stay with me, while mamma and papa are away; and
now what shall I do without a cook? I was on my way down to an
intelligence office, to get another servant, when you nearly ran me
down! Now, isn't that news?"
"I should say it was--two kinds," admitted Tom, with a smile. "Well,
I'll help you all I can. I'll take you to the intelligence office,
and if you can get a cook, by hook or by crook, I'll bundle her into
this car, and get her to your house before she can change her mind.
And so your people have gone to the West Indies?"
"Yes, and I wish I had the chance to go."
"So do I," spoke Tom, little realizing how soon his wish might be
granted. "But is there any particular intelligence office you wish
"There's not much choice," replied Mary Nestor, with a smile, "as
there's only one in town. Oh. I do hope I can get a cook! It would
be dreadful to have nothing to eat, after I'd asked the girls to
spend a month with me; wouldn't it?"
Tom agreed that it certainly would, and they soon after arrived at
the intelligence office.
Chapter III Tom Knocks Out Andy
"Do you want me to come in and help you?" asked the young inventor,
of Miss Nestor.
"Do you know anything about hiring a cook?" she inquired, with an
"I'm afraid I don't," the lad was obliged to confess.
"Then I'm a little doubtful of your ability to help me. But I'm ever
so much obliged to you. I'll see if I can engage one. The cook who
just left went away because I asked her to make some apple
turnovers. Some of the girls who are coming are very fond of them."
"So am I," spoke Tom, with a smile.
"Are you, indeed? Then, if the cook I hope to get now will make
them, I'll invite you over to have some, and--also meet my friends."
"I'd rather come when just you, and the turnovers and the cook are
there," declared Tom, boldly, and Mary, with a blush, made ready to
leave the electric car.
"Thank you," she said, in a low voice.
"If I can't help you select a cook," went on Tom, "at least let me
call and take you home when you have engaged one."
"Oh, it will be too much trouble," protested Miss Nestor.
"Not at all. I have only to send a message, and get some piano wire,
and then I'll call back here for you. I'll take you and the new cook
back home flying."
"All right, but don't fly so fast. The cook may get frightened, and
leave before she has a chance to make an apple turnover."
"I'll go slower. I'll be back in fifteen minutes," called Tom, as he
swung the car out away from the curb, while Mary Nestor went into
the intelligence office.
Tom wrote and sent this message to Mr. Hostner Fenwick, of
"Will come on to-morrow in my aeroplane, and aid you all I can. Will
not promise to make your electric airship fly, though. Father sends
"Just rush that, please," he said to the telegraph agent, and the
latter, after reading it over, remarked:
"It'll rush itself, I reckon, being all about airships, and things
like that," and he laughed as Tom paid him.
Selecting several sizes of piano wire of great strength, to use as
extra guy-braces on the Butterfly, Tom re-entered his electric car,
and hastened back to the intelligence office, where he had left his
friend. He saw her standing at the front door, and before he could
alight, and go to her, Miss Nestor came out to meet him.
"Oh, Tom!" she exclaimed, with a little tragic gesture, "what do you
"I don't know," he answered good-naturedly. "Does the new cook
refuse to come unless you do away with apple turnovers?"
"No, it isn't that. I have engaged a real treasure, I'm sure, but as
soon as I mentioned that you would take us home in the electric
automobile, she flatly refused to come. She said walking was the
only way she would go. She hasn't been in this country long. But the
worst of it is that a rich woman has just telephoned in for a cook,
and if I don't get this one away, the rich lady may induce her to
come to her house, and I'll be without one! Oh, what shall I do?"
and poor Mary looked quite distressed.
"Humph! So she's afraid of electric autos; eh?" mused Tom. "That's
queer. Leave it to me, Mary, and perhaps I can fix it. You want to
get her away from here in a hurry; don't you?"
"Yes, because servants are so scarce, that they are engaged almost
as soon as they register at the intelligence office. I know the one
I have hired is suspicious of me, since I have mentioned your car,
and she'll surely go with Mrs. Duy Puyster when she comes. I'm sorry
I spoke of the automobile."
"Well, don't worry. It's partly my fault, and perhaps I can make
amends. I'll talk to the new cook," decided the young inventor.
"Oh, Tom, I don't believe it will do any good. She won't come, and
all my girl friends will arrive shortly." Miss Nestor was quite
"Leave it to me," suggested the lad, with an assumed confidence he
did not feel. He left the car, and walked toward the office.
Entering it, with Miss Nestor in his wake, he saw a pleasant-faced
Irish girl, sitting on a bench, with a bundle beside her.
"And so you don't want to ride in an auto?" began Tom.
"No, an' it's no use of the likes of you askin' me, either,"
answered the girl, but not impudently. "I am afeered of thim things,
an' I won't work in a family that owns one."
"But we don't own one," said Mary.
The girl only sniffed.
"It is the very latest means of traveling," Tom went on, "and there
is absolutely no danger. I will drive slowly."
"No!" snapped the new cook.
Tom was rather at his wits' ends. At that moment the telephone rang,
and Tom and Mary, listening, could hear the proprietress of the
intelligence office talking to Mrs. Duy Puyster over the wire.
"We must get her away soon," whispered Mary, with a nod at the Irish
girl, "or we'll lose her."
Tom was thinking rapidly, but no plan seemed to come to him. A
moment later one of the assistants of the office led out from a rear
room another Irish girl,--who, it seems, had just engaged herself to
work in the country.
"Good-by, Bridget," said this girl, to the one Mary Nestor had
hired. "I'm off now. The carriage has just come for me. I'm goin'
away in style."
"Good luck, Sarah," wished Bridget.
Tom looked out of the window. A dilapidated farm wagon, drawn by two
rusty-looking horses, just drawing up at the curb.
"There is your employer, Sarah," said the proprietress of the
office. "You will have a nice ride to the country and I hope you
will like the place."
A typical country farmer alighted from the wagon, leaving a woman,
evidently his wife, or the seat. He called out:
"I'll git th' servant-gal, 'Mandy, an' we'll drive right out hum.
Then you won't have such hard work any more."
"An' so that's the style you was tellin' me of; eh, Sarah?" asked
the cook whom Miss Nestor had engaged. "That's queer style, Sarah."
Sarah was blushing from shame and mortification. Tom was quick to
seize the advantage thus offered.
"Bridget, if you appreciate style," he said, "you will come in the
automobile. I have one of the very latest models, and it is very
safe. But perhaps you prefer a farm wagon."
"Indade an' I don't!" was the ready response. "I'll go wid you now
if only to show Sarah Malloy thot I have more style than her! She
was boastin' of the fine place she had, an' th' illigant carriage
that was comin' t' take her to the counthry. If that's it I want
none of it! I'll go wid you an' th' young gintleman. Style indade!"
and, gathering up her bundle she followed Tom and Mary to the
They entered it and started off, just as Mrs. Duy Puyster drove up
in her elegantly appointed carriage, while Sarah, with tears of
mortification in her eyes, climbed up beside the farmer and his
"You saved the day for me, Tom," whispered Miss Nestor, as the young
inventor increased the speed of his car. "It was only just in time."
"Don't forget the apple turnovers," he whispered back.
Once she had made the plunge, the new cook seemed to lose her fears
of the auto, and enjoyed the ride. In a short time she had been
safely delivered at Miss Nestor's home, while that young lady
repeated her thanks to Tom, and renewed her invitation for him to
come and sample the apple turnovers, which Tom promised faithfully
to do, saying he would call on his return from Philadelphia.
Musing on the amusing feature of his trip, Tom was urging his auto
along at moderate speed, when, as he turned down a country road,
leading to his home, he saw, coming toward him, a carriage, drawn by
a slow-moving, white horse, and containing a solitary figure.
"Why, that looks like Andy Foger," spoke Tom, half aloud. "I wonder
what he's doing out driving? His auto must be out of commission. But
that's not strange, considering the way he abuses the machine. It's
in the repair shop half the time."
He slowed down still more, for he did not know but that Andy's horse
might be skittish. He need have no fears, however, for the animal
did not seem to have much more life than did Eradicate's mule,
As Tom came nearer the carriage, he was surprised to see Andy
deliberately swing his horse across the road, blocking the highway
by means of the carriage and steed.
"Well, Andy Foger, what does that mean?" cried Tom, indignantly, as
he brought his car to a sudden stop. "Why do you block the road?"
"Because I want to," snarled the bully, taking out a notebook and
pencil, and pretending to make some notes about the property in
front of which he had halted. "I'm in the real estate business now,"
went on Andy, "and I'm getting descriptions of the property I'm
going to sell. Guess I've got a right to stop in the road if I want
"But not to block it up," retorted Tom. "That's against the law.
Pull over and let me pass!"
"Suppose I don't do it?"
"Then I'll make you!"
"Huh! I'd like to see you try it!" snapped Andy. "If you make
trouble for me, it will be the worse for you."
"If you pull to one side, so I can pass, there'll be no trouble,"
said Tom, seeing that Andy wished to pick a quarrel.
"Well, I'm not going to pull aside until I finish putting down this
description," and the bully continued to write with tantalizing
"Look here!" exclaimed Tom Swift, with sudden energy. "I'm not going
to stand for this! Either you pull to one side and let me pass, or--"
"Well, what will you do?" demanded the bully.
"I'll shove you to one side, and you can take the consequences!"
"You won't dare to!"
"I won't, eh? Just you watch."
Tom threw forward the lever of his car. There was a hum of the
motor, and the electric moved ahead. Andy had continued to write in
the book, but at this sound he glanced up.
"Don't you dare to bunk into me!" yelled Andy. "If you do I'll sue
you for damages!"
"Get out of the way, or I'll shove you off the road!" threatened
"I'll not go until I get ready."
"Oh, yes you will," responded our hero quietly. He sent his car
ahead slowly but surely. It was within a few feet of the carriage
containing Andy. The bully had dropped his notebook, and was shaking
his fist at Tom.
As for the young inventor he had his plans made. He saw that the
horse was a quiet, sleepy one, that would not run away, no matter
what happened, and Tom only intended to gently push the carriage to
one side, and pass on.
The front of his auto came up against the other vehicle.
"Here, you stop!" cried Andy, savagely.
"It's too late now," answered Tom, grimly.
Andy reached for the horsewhip. Tom put on a little more power, and
the carriage began to slide across the road, but the old horse never
opened his eyes.
"Take that!" cried Andy, raising his whip, with the intention of
slashing Tom across the face, for the front of the auto was open.
But the blow never fell, for, the next instant, the carriage gave a
lurch as one of the wheels slid against a stone, and, as Andy was
standing up, and leaning forward, he was pitched head first out into
"By Jove! I hope I haven't hurt him!" gasped Tom, as he leaped from
his auto, which he had brought to a stop.
The young inventor bent over the bully. There was a little cut on
Andy's forehead, and his face was white. He had been most
effectually knocked out entirely by his own meanness and fault, but,
none the less, Tom was frightened. He raised up Andy's head on his
arm, and brushed back his hair. Andy was unconscious.
Chapter IV Mr. Damon Will Go Along
At first Tom was greatly frightened at the sight of Andy's pale
face. He feared lest the bully might be seriously hurt. But when he
realized that the fall from the carriage, which was a low one, was
not hard, and that Andy had landed on his outstretched hands before
his head came in contact with the earth, our hero was somewhat
"I wish I had some water, with which to bathe his head," Tom
murmured, and he looked about in vain for some. But it was not
needed, for, a moment later, Andy opened his eyes, and, when he saw
Tom bending over, and holding him, the bully exclaimed:
"Here! You let me go! Don't you hit me again, Tom Swift, or I'll
"I didn't hit you," declared Tom, while Andy tore himself away, and
struggled to his feet.
"Yes, you did, too, hit me!"
"I did not! You tried to strike me with your whip, as I was shoving
your carriage out of the way, which I had a perfect right to do, as
you were blockading the highway. You lost your balance and fell. It
was your own fault."
"Well, you'll suffer for it, just the same, snarled Andy, and then,
putting his hand to his head, and bringing it away, with some drops
of blood on it, he cried out:"
"Oh, I'm hurt! I'm injured! Get a doctor, or maybe I'll bleed to
death!" He began blubbering, for Andy, like all bullies, was a
"You're not hurt," asserted Tom, trying not to laugh. "It's only a
scratch. Next time don't try to blockade the whole street, and you
won't get into trouble. Are you able to drive home; or shall I take
you in my car?"
"I wouldn't ride in your car!" snapped the ugly lad. "You go on, and
mind your business now, and I'll pay you back for this, some day. I
could have you arrested!"
"And so could I have you locked up for obstructing traffic. But I'll
not. Your rig isn't damaged, and you'd better drive home."
The old white horse had not moved, and was evidently glad of the
rest. A glance satisfied Tom that the carriage had not been damaged,
and, getting into his car, while Andy was brushing the dust from his
clothes, our hero started the motor.
There was now room enough to pass around the obstructing carriage,
and soon Tom was humming down the road, leaving a much discomfited
bully behind him.
"Tom Swift is too smart--thinking he can run everybody, and
everything, to suit himself," growled Andy, as he finished dusting
off his clothes, and wiping the blood from his face. As Tom had
said, the wound was but a scratch, though the bully's head ached,
and he felt a little dizzy. "I wish I'd hit him with the horsewhip,"
he went on, vindictively. "I'll get square with him some day."
Andy had said this many times, but he had never yet succeeded in
permanently getting the best of Tom. Pondering on some scheme of
revenge the rich lad--for Mr. Foger, his father, was quite
Meanwhile Tom, rather wishing the little encounter had not taken
place, but refusing to blame himself for what had occurred, was
speeding toward home.
"Let's see," he murmured, as he drove along in his powerful car.
"I've got quite a lot to do if I make an early start for
Philadelphia, in my airship, to-morrow. I want to tighten the
propeller on the shaft a trifle, and give the engine a good try-out.
Then, too, I think I'd better make the landing springs a little
stiffer. The last time I made a descent the frame was pretty well
jarred up. Yes, if I make that air trip to-morrow I'll have to do
some tall hustling when I get home."
The electric runabout swung into the yard of the Swift house, and
Tom brought it to a stop opposite the side door. He looked about for
a sight of his father, Mrs. Baggert or Garret Jackson. The only
person visible was Eradicate Sampson, working in the garden.
"Hello, Rad," called Tom. "Anybody home?"
"Yais, Massa Tom," answered the colored man. "Yo' dad an' anodder
gen'mans hab jest gone in de house."
"Who's the other gentleman, Rad?" asked Tom, and the negro, glad of
an excuse to cease the weeding of the onion bed, came shuffling
"It's de gen'mans what is allers saying his prayers," he answered.
"Saying his prayers?" repeated Tom.
"Yep. Yo' knows what I means, Massa Tom. He's allers askin' a
blessin' on his shoes, or his rubbers, or his necktie."
"Oh, you mean Mr. Wakefield Damon."
"Yais, sah, dat's who I done means. Mr. Wakefull Lemon--dat's sho'
At that moment there sounded, within the house, the voices of Mr.
Swift, and some one else in conversation.
"And so Tom has decided to make a run to the Quaker City in the
Butterfly, to-morrow," Mr. Swift was saying, "and he's going to see
if he can be of any service to this Mr. Fenwick."
"Bless my watch chain!" exclaimed the other voice. "You don't say
so! Why I know Mr. Fenwick very well--he and I used to go to school
together, but bless my multiplication tables--I never thought he'd
amount to anything! And so he's built an airship; and Tom is going
to help him with it? Why, bless my collar button, I've a good notion
to go along and see what happens. Bless my very existence, but I
think I will!"
"That's Mr. Damon all right," observed Tom, with a smile, as he
advanced toward the dining-room, whence the voices proceeded.
"Dat's what I done tole you!" said Eradicate, and, with slow and
lagging steps he went back to weed the onion bed.
"How are you, Mr. Damon," called our hero, as he mounted the steps
of the porch.
"Why, it's Tom--he's back!" exclaimed the eccentric man. "Why, bless
my shoe laces, Tom! how are you? I'm real glad to see you. Bless my
eyeglasses, but I am! I just returned from a little western trip, and
I thought I'd run over and see how you are. I came in my car--had two
blowouts on the way, too. Bless my spark plug, but the kind of tires
one gets now-a-days are a disgrace! However, I'm here, and your father
has just told me about you going to Philadelphia in your monoplane, to
help a fellow-inventor with his airship. It's real kind of you. Bless
my topknot if it isn't! Do you know what I was just saying?"
"I heard you mention that you knew Mr. Fenwick," replied Tom, with a
smile, as he shook hands with Mr. Damon.
"So I do, and, what's more, I'd like to see his airship. Will your
Butterfly carry two passengers?"
"Easily. Mr. Damon."
"Then I'll tell you what I'm going to do. If you'll let me I'll take
that run to Philadelphia with you!"
"Glad to have you come along," responded Tom, heartily.
"Then I'll go, and, what's more, if Fenwick's ship will rise, I'll
go with you in that--bless my deflection rudder if I don't, Tom!"
and puffing up his cheeks, as he exploded these words, Mr. Damon
fairly raised himself on his tiptoes, and shook Tom's hand again.
Chapter V Vol-Planing To Earth
For a moment after Mr. Damon's announcement Tom did not reply. Mr.
Swift, too, seemed a little at a loss for something to say. They did
not quite know how to take their eccentric friend at times.
"Of course I'll be glad of your company, Mr. Damon," said Tom: "but
you must remember that my Butterfly is not like the Red Cloud. There
is more danger riding in the monoplane than there is in the airship.
In the latter, if the engine happens to stop, the sustaining gas
will prevent us from falling. But it isn't so in an aeroplane. When
your engine stops there--"
"Well, what happens?" asked Mr. Damon, impatiently, for Tom
"You have to vol-plane back to earth."
"Vol-plane?" and there was a questioning note in Mr. Damon's voice.
"Yes, glide down from whatever height you are at when the engine
stalls. Come down in a series of dips from the upper currents. Vol-planing,
the French call it, and I guess it's as good a word as
"Have you ever done it?" asked the odd character.
"Oh, yes, several times."
"Then, bless my fur overcoat! I can do it, too, Tom. When will you
be ready to start?"
"To-morrow morning. Now you are sure you won't get nervous and want
to jump, if the engine happens to break down?"
"Not a bit of it. I'll vol-plane whenever you are ready," and Mr.
"Well, we'll hope we won't have to," went on Tom. "And I'll be very
glad of your company. Mr. Fenwick will, no doubt, be pleased to see
you. I've never met him, and it will be nice to have some one to
introduce me. Suppose you come out and see what sort of a craft you
are doomed to travel in to-morrow, Mr. Damon. I believe you never
saw my new monoplane."
"That's right, I haven't, but I'd be glad to. I declare, I'm getting
to be quite an aviator," and Mr. Damon chuckled. A little later,
Tom, having informed his father of the sending of the message, took
his eccentric friend out to the shop, and exhibited the Butterfly.
As many of you have seen the ordinary monoplane, either on
exhibition or in flight, I will not take much space to describe
Tom's. Sufficient to say it was modeled after the one in which
Bleriot made his first flight across the English channel.
The body was not unlike that of a butterfly or dragon fly, long and
slender, consisting of a rectangular frame with canvas stretched
over it, and a seat for two just aft of the engine and controlling
levers. Back of the seat stretched out a long framework, and at the
end was a curved plane, set at right angles to it. The ends of the
plane terminated in flexible wings, to permit of their being bent up
or down, so as to preserve the horizontal equilibrium of the craft.
At the extreme end was the vertical rudder, which sent the monoplane
to left or right.
Forward, almost exactly like the front set of wings of the dragon
fly, was the large, main plane, with the concave turn toward the
ground. There was the usual propeller in front, operated by a four
cylinder motor, the cylinders being air cooled, and set like the
spokes of a wheel around the motor box. The big gasolene tank, and
other mechanism was in front of the right-hand operator's seat,
where Tom always rode. He had seldom taken a passenger up with him,
though the machine would easily carry two, and he was a little
nervous about the outcome of the trip with Mr. Damon.
"How do you like the looks of it?" asked the young inventor, as he
wheeled the Butterfly out of the shed, and began pumping up the
tires of the bicycle wheels on which it ran over the ground, to get
impetus enough with which to rise.
"It looks a little frail, compared to the big Red Cloud, Tom,"
answered the eccentric man, "but I'm going up in her just the same;
bless my buttons if I'm not."
Tom could not but admire the grit of his friend.
The rest of the day was busily spent making various adjustments to
the monoplane, putting on new wire stays, changing the rudder
cables, and tuning up the motor. The propeller was tightened on the
shaft, and toward evening Tom announced that all was in readiness
for a trial flight.
"Want to come, Mr. Damon?" he asked.
"I'll wait, and see how it acts with you aboard," was the answer.
"Not that I'm afraid, for I'm going to make the trip in the morning,
but perhaps it won't work just right now."
"Oh, I guess it will," ventured Tom, and in order to be able to know
just how his Butterfly was going to behave, with a passenger of Mr.
Damon's weight, the young inventor placed a bag of sand on the extra
The monoplane was then wheeled to the end of the starting ground.
Tom took his place in the seat, and Mr. Jackson started the
propeller. At first the engine failed to respond, but suddenly with
a burst of smoke, and a spluttering of fire the cylinders began
exploding. The hat of Mr. Damon, who was standing back of the
machine, was blown off by the wind created by the propeller.
"Bless my gaiters!" he exclaimed, "I never thought it was as strong
"Let go!" cried Tom to Mr. Jackson and Eradicate, who were holding
back the monoplane from gliding over the ground.
"All right," answered the engineer.
An instant later the explosions almost doubled, for Tom turned on
more gasolene. Then, like some live thing, the Butterfly rushed
across the starting ground. Faster and faster it went, until the
young inventor, knowing that he had motion enough, tilted his planes
to catch the wind.
Up he went from earth, like some graceful bird, higher and higher,
and then, in a big spiral, he began ascending until he was five
hundred feet in the air. Up there he traveled back and forth, in
circles, and in figure eights, desiring to test the machine in
Suddenly the engine stopped, and to those below, anxiously watching,
the silence became almost oppressive, for Tom had somewhat
descended, and the explosions had been plainly heard by those
observing him. But now they ceased!
"His engine's stalled!" cried Garret Jackson.
Mr. Swift heard the words, and looked anxiously up at his son.
"Is he in any danger?" gasped Mr. Damon.
No one answered him. Like some great bird, disabled in mid flight,
the monoplane swooped downward. A moment later a hearty shout from
Tom reassured them.
"He shut off the engine on purpose," said Mr. Jackson. "He is vol-planing
back to earth!"
Nearer and nearer came the Butterfly. It would shoot downward, and
then, as Tom tilted the planes, would rise a bit, losing some of the
great momentum. In a series of maneuvers like this, the young
inventor reached the earth, not far from where his father and the
others stood. Down came the Butterfly, the springs of the wheel
frame taking the shock wonderfully well.
"She's all right--regular bird!" cried Tom, in enthusiasm, when the
machine had come to a stop after rolling over the ground, and he had
leaped out. "We'll make a good flight to-morrow, Mr. Damon, if the
weather holds out this way."
"Good!" cried the eccentric man. "I shall be delighted."
They made the start early the next morning, there being hardly a
breath of wind. There was not a trace of nervousness noticeable
about Mr. Damon, as he took his place in the seat beside Tom. The
lad had gone carefully over the entire apparatus, and had seen to it
that, as far as he could tell, it was in perfect running order.
"When will you be back, Tom?" asked his father.
"To-night, perhaps, or to-morrow morning. I don't know just what Mr.
Fenwick wants me to do. But if it is anything that requires a long
stay, I'll come back, and let you know, and then run down to
Philadelphia again. I may need some of my special tools to work
with. I'll be back to-night perhaps."
"Shall I keep supper for you?" asked Mrs. Baggert, the housekeeper.
"I don't know," answered Tom, with a laugh. "Perhaps I'll drop down
at Miss Nestor's, and have some apple turnovers," for he had told
them or the incident of hiring the new cook. "Well," he went on to
Mr. Damon, "are you all ready?"
"As ready as I ever shall be. Do you think we'll have to do any vol-planing,
"Hard to say, but it's not dangerous when there's no wind. All
right, Garret. Start her off."
The engineer whirled the big wooden, built-up propeller, and with a
rattle and roar of the motor, effectually drowning any but the
loudest shouts, the Butterfly was ready for her flight. Tom let the
engine warm up a bit before calling to his friends to let go, and
then, when he had thrown the gasolene lever forward, he shouted a
good-by and cried:
"All right! Let go!"
Forward, like a hound from the leash, sprang the little monoplane.
It ran perhaps for five hundred feet, and then, with a tilting of
the wings, to set the air currents against them, it sprang into the
"We're off!" cried Mr. Damon, waving his hand to those on the ground
"Yes, we're off," murmured Tom. "Now for the Quaker City!"
He had mapped out a route for himself the night before, and now,
picking out the land-marks, he laid as straight a course as possible
The sensation of flying along, two thousand feet high, in a machine
almost as frail as a canoe, was not new to Tom. It was, in a degree,
to Mr. Damon, for, though the latter had made frequent trips in the
large airship, this mode of locomotion, as if he was on the back of
some bird, was much different. Still, after the first surprise, he
got used to it.
"Bless my finger ring!" he exclaimed, "I like it!"
"I thought you would," said Tom, in a shout, and he adjusted the oil
feed to send more lubricant into the cylinders.
The earth stretched out below them, like some vari-colored relief
map, but they could not stop to admire any particular spot long, for
they were flying fast, and were beyond a scene almost as quickly as
they had a glimpse of it.
"How long will it take us?" yelled Mr. Damon into Tom's ear.
"I hope to do it in three hours," shouted back the young inventor.
"What! Why it takes the train over five hours."
"Yes, I know, but we're going direct, and it's only about two
hundred and fifty miles. That's only about eighty an hour. We're
doing seventy-five now, and I haven't let her out yet."
"She goes faster than the Red Cloud," cried Mr. Damon.
Tom nodded. It was hard work to talk in that rush of air. For an
hour they shot along, their speed gradually increasing. Tom called
out the names of the larger places they passed over. He was now
doing better than eighty an hour as the gage showed. The trip was a
glorious one, and the eyes of the young inventor and his friend
sparkled in delight as they rushed forward. Two hours passed.
"Going to make it?" fairly howled Mr. Damon.
Tom nodded again.
"Be there in time for dinner," he announced in a shout.
It lacked forty minutes of the three hours when Tom, pointing with
one hand down below, while with the other he gripped the lever of
the rudder, called:
"So soon?" gasped Mr. Damon. "Well, we certainly made speed! Where
are you going to land?"
"I don't know," answered the young inventor, "I'll have to pick out
the best place I see. It's no fun landing in a city. No room to run
along, after you're down."
"What's the matter with Franklin Field?" cried Mr. Damon. "Out where
they play football."
"Good! The very thing!" shouted Tom.
"Mr. Fenwick lives near there," went on Mr. Damon, and Tom nodded
They were now over North Philadelphia, and, in a few minutes more
were above the Quaker City itself. They were flying rather low, and
as the people in the streets became aware of their presence there
was intense excitement. Tom steered for the big athletic field, and
soon saw it in the distance.
With a suddenness that was startling the motor ceased its terrific
racket. The monoplane gave a sickening dip, and Tom had to adjust
the wing tips and rudder quickly to prevent it slewing around at a
"What's the matter?" cried Mr. Damon, "Did you shut it off on
"No!" shouted Tom, "Something's gone wrong!"
"Gone wrong! Bless my overshoes! Is there any danger?"
"We'll have to vol-plane to earth," answered Tom, and there was a
grim look on his face. He had never executed this feat with a
passenger aboard. He was wondering how the Butterfly would behave.
But he would know very soon, for already the tiny monoplane was
shooting rapidly toward the big field, which was now swarming with a
Chapter VI The New Airship
For a brief instant after the stopping of the motor, and the
consequent sudden dropping toward the earth of the monoplane, Tom
glanced at Mr. Damon. The latter's face was rather pale, but he
seemed calm and collected. His lips moved slightly, and Tom, even in
those tense moments, wondered if the odd gentleman was blessing
anything in particular, or everything in general.
Tom threw up the tilting plane, to catch more air beneath it, and
bring the Butterfly in a more parallel position to the earth. This,
in a manner, checked the downward flight, and they glided along
horizontally for a hundred feet or more.
"Is--is there any great danger, Tom?" asked Mr. Damon.
"I think not," answered the young inventor, confidently. "I have
done this same thing before, and from greater heights. The only
thing that bothers me is that there are several cross-currents of
air up here, which make it difficult to manage the planes and wing
tips. But I think we'll make a good landing."
"Bless my overcoat!" exclaimed Mr. Damon "I certainly hope so."
Conversation was more easily carried on now, as the motor was not
spitting fire and throbbing like a battery of Gatling guns. Tom
thought perhaps it might start on the spark, as the propeller was
slowly swinging from the force of air against it. He tried, but
there was no explosion. He had scarcely hoped for it, as he realized
that some part of the mechanism must have broken.
Down they glided, coming nearer and nearer to the earth. The crowd
in the big athletic field grew larger. Shouts of wonder and fear
could be heard, and people could be seen running excitedly about. To
Tom and Mr. Damon they looked like dolls.
Reaching the limit of the parallel glide the monoplane once more
shot down on an incline toward the earth with terrible speed. The
ground seemed to rush up to meet Mr. Damon.
"Look out!" he cried to Tom. "We're going to hit something!"
"Not yet," was the calm answer "I'm going to try a new stunt. Hold
"What are you going to do?"
"Some spirals. I think that will let us down easier, but the craft
is likely to tilt a bit, so hold on."
The young inventor shifted the movable planes and rudder, and, a
moment later, the Butterfly swung violently around, like a polo pony
taking a sudden turn after the ball. Mr. Damon slid to one side of
his seat, and made a frantic grab for one of the upright supports.
"I made too short a turn!" cried Tom, easing off the craft, which
righted itself in an instant. "The air currents fooled me."
Under his skillful guidance, the monoplane was soon slowly
approaching the earth in a series of graceful curves. It was under
perfect control, and a smile of relief came on the face of the young
inventor. Seeing it Mr. Damon took courage, and his hands, which had
grasped the uprights with such firmness that his knuckles showed
white with the strain, were now removed. He sat easily in his seat.
"We're all right now," declared Tom. "I'll take a couple of forward
glides now, and we'll land."
He sent the machine straight ahead. It gathered speed in an instant.
Then, with an upward tilt it was slackened, almost as if brakes had
been applied. Once more it shot toward the earth, and once more it
was checked by an up-tilted plane.
Then with a thud which shook up the occupants of the two seats, the
Butterfly came to the ground, and ran along on the three bicycle
wheels. Swiftly it slid over the level ground. A more ideal landing
place would have been hard to find. Scores of willing hands reached
out, and checked the momentum of the little monoplane, and Tom and
Mr. Damon climbed from their seats.
The crowd set up a cheer, and hundreds pressed around the aviators.
Several sought to reach, and touch the machine, for they had
probably never been so close to one before, though airship flights
are getting more and more common.
"Where did you come from?"
"Are you trying for a record?"
"How high did you get?"
"Did you fall, or come down on purpose?"
"Can't you start your motor in mid-air?"
These, and scores of other questions were fairly volleyed at Tom and
Mr. Damon. The young inventor good-naturedly answered them as best
"We were coming down anyhow," he explained, "but we did not
calculate on vol-planing. The motor was stalled, and I had to glide.
Please keep away from the machine. You might damage it."
The arrival of several policemen, who were attracted by the crowd,
served to keep the curious ones back away from the Butterfly, or the
men, boys and women (for there were a number of the latter in the
throng) might have caused serious trouble.
Tom made a hasty examination of the motor, and, having satisfied
himself that only a minor difficulty had caused it to stop, he
decided to put the monoplane in some safe place, and proceed to Mr.
The lad was just asking one of the officers if the air craft could
not be put in one of the grandstands which surrounded the field,
when a voice on the outskirts of the crowd excitedly exclaimed:
"Let me pass, please. I want to see that airship. I'm building one
myself, and I need all the experience I can get. Let me in, please."
A man pushed his way into the crowd, and wormed his way to where Tom
and Mr. Damon stood. At the sight of him, the eccentric individual
"Why bless my pocket-knife! If it isn't Mr. Fenwick!"
"Mr. Fenwick?" gasped Tom.
"Yes. The inventor we came to see!"
At the same moment the newcomer cried out:
"That's who I am," answered Tom's friend, "and let me introduce you
to Mr. Swift, the inventor of more machines than I can count. He and
I were coming to see you, when we had a slight accident, and we
landed here. But that didn't matter, for we intended to land here
anyhow, as I knew it was near your house. Only we had to vol-plane
back to earth, and I can't say that I'd care for that, as a steady
diet. Bless my radiator, but I'm glad we've arrived safely."
"Did you come all the way from your home in that?" asked Mr. Fenwick
of Tom, as he shook hands with him, and nodded at the monoplane.
"Oh, yes. It's not much of a trip."
"Well, I hope my airship will do as well. But something seems to be
wrong with it, and I have hopes that you can help me discover what
it is, I know your father, and I have heard much of your ability.
That is why I requested your aid."
"I'm afraid I've been much overrated," spoke Tom, modestly, "but
I'll do all I can for you. I must now leave my monoplane in a safe
"I'll attend to that," Mr. Fenwick hastened to assure him. "Leave it
By this time a lieutenant of police, in charge of several reserve
officers, had arrived on the scene, for the crowd was now very
large, and, as Mr. Fenwick knew this official, he requested that
Tom's machine be protected from damage. It was arranged that it
could be stored in a large, empty shed, and a policeman would be
left on guard. Then, seeing that it was all right, Tom, Mr. Damon
and Mr. Fenwick started for the latter's house.
"I am very anxious to show you the Whizzer," said Mr. Fenwick, as
they walked along.
"The Whizzer?" repeated Tom, wonderingly.
"Yes, that's what I call my electric airship. It hasn't 'whizzed'
any to speak of yet, but I have hopes that it will, now that you are
here to help me. We will take one of these taxicabs, and soon be at
my house. I was out for a stroll, when I saw your monoplane coming
down, and I hastened to Franklin Field to see it."
The three entered an automobile, and were soon being driven to the
inventor's home. A little later he led them out to a big shed which
occupied nearly all of a large lot, in back of Mr. Fenwick's house.
"Does it take up all that room?" asked Tom.
"Oh, yes, the Whizzer is pretty good size. There she is!" cried Mr.
Fenwick proudly, as he threw open the doors of the shed, and Tom and
Mr. Damon, looking in, saw a large triplane, with a good-sized gas
bag hovering over it, and a strange collection of rudders, wings and
planes sticking out from either side. Amidships was an enclosed car,
or cabin, and a glimpse into it served to disclose to the young
inventor a mass of machinery.
"There she is! That's the Whizzer!" cried Mr. Fenwick, with pride in
his voice. "What do you think of her, Tom Swift?"
Tom did not immediately answer. He looked dubiously at the electric
airship and shrugged his shoulders. It seemed to him, at first
glance, that, it would never sail.
Chapter VII Making Some Changes
"Well, what do you think of it?" asked Mr. Fenwick again, as Tom
walked all about the electric airship, still without speaking.
"It's big, certainly," remarked the lad.
"Bless my shoe horn! I should say it was!" burst out Mr. Damon.
"It's larger than your Red Cloud, Tom."
"But will it go? That's what I want to know," insisted the inventor.
"Do you think it will fly, Tom? I haven't dared to try it yet,
though a small model which I made floated in the air for some time.
But it wouldn't move, except as the wind blew it."
"It would be hard to say, without a careful examination, whether
this large one will fly or not," answered Tom.
"Then give it a careful examination," suggested Mr. Fenwick. "I'll
pay you well for your time and trouble."
"Oh if I can help a fellow inventor, and assist in making a new
model of airship fly, I'm only too glad to do it without pay,"
retorted Tom, quickly. "I didn't come here for that. Suppose we go
in the cabin, and look at the motor. That's the most important
point, if your airship is to navigate."
There was certainly plenty of machinery in the cabin of the Whizzer.
Most of it was electrical, for on that power Mr. Fenwick intended to
depend to sail through space. There was a new type of gasolene
engine, small but very powerful, and this served to operate a
dynamo. In turn, the dynamo operated an electrical motor, as Mr.
Fenwick had an idea that better, and more uniform, power could be
obtained in this way, than from a gasolene motor direct. One
advantage which Tom noticed at once, was that the Whizzer had a
large electric storage battery.
This was intended to operate the electric motor in case of a break
to the main machinery, and it seemed a good idea. There were various
other apparatuses, machines, and appliances, the nature of which Tom
could not readily gather from a mere casual view.
"Well, what's your opinion, now that you have seen the motor?" asked
Mr. Fenwick, anxiously.
"I'd have to see it in operation," said Tom.
"And you shall, right after dinner," declared the inventor. "I'd
like to start it now, and hear what you have to say, but I'm not so
selfish as that. I know you must be hungry after your trip from
Shopton, as they say aeroplaning gives one an appetite."
"I don't know whether it's that or not," answered Tom with a laugh,
"but I am certainly hungry."
"Then we'll postpone the trial until after dinner. It must be ready
by this time, I think," said Mr. Fenwick, as he led the way back to
the house. It was magnificently furnished, for the inventor was a
man of wealth, and only took up aeroplaning as a "fad." An excellent
dinner was served, and then the three returned once more to the shed
where the Whizzer was kept.
"Shall I start the motor in here?" asked Mr. Fenwick, when he had
summoned several of the machinists whom he employed, to aid himself
and the young inventor.
"It would be better if we could take it outside," suggested Tom,
"yet a crowd is sure to gather, and I don't like to work in a mob of
"Oh, we can easily get around that," said Mr. Fenwick. "I have two
openings to my aeroplane shed. We can take the Whizzer out of the
rear door, into a field enclosed by a high fence. That is where I
made all my trials, and the crowd couldn't get in, though some boys
did find knot-holes and use them. But I don't mind that. The only
thing that bothers me is that I can't make the Whizzer go up, and if
it won't go up, it certainly won't sail. That's my difficulty, and I
hope you can remedy it, Tom Swift."
"I'll do the best I can. But let's get the airship outside."
This was soon accomplished, and in the open lot Tom made a thorough
and careful examination of the mechanism. The motor was started, and
the propellers, for there were two, whirled around at rapid speed.
Tom made some tests and calculations, at which he was an expert, and
applied the brake test, to see how much horse power the motor would
"I think there is one trouble that we will have to get over," he
finally said to Mr. Fenwick.
"What is that?"
"The motor is not quite powerful enough because of the way in which
you have it geared up. I think by changing some of the cogs, and
getting rid of the off-set shaft, also by increasing the number of
revolutions, and perhaps by using a new style of carburetor, we can
get more speed and power."
"Then we'll do it!" cried Mr. Fenwick, with enthusiasm. "I knew I
hadn't got everything just right. Do you think it will work after
"Well," remarked Tom, hesitatingly, "I think the arrangement of the
planes will also have to be changed. It will take quite some work,
but perhaps, after a bit, we can get the Whizzer up in the air."
"Can you begin work at once?" asked the inventor, eagerly.
Tom shook his head.
"I can't stay long enough on this trip," he said. "I promised father
I would be back by to-morrow at the latest, but I will come over
here again, and arrange to stay until I have done all I can. I need
to get some of my special tools, and then, too, you will require
some other supplies, of which I will give you a list. I hope you
don't mind me speaking in this way, Mr. Fenwick, as though I knew
more about it than you do," added Tom, modestly.
"Not a bit of it!" cried the inventor heartily. "I want the benefit
of your advice and experience, and I'll do just as you say. I hope
you can come back soon."
"I'll return the first of the week," promised Tom, "and then we'll
see what can be done. Now I'll go over the whole ship once more, and
see what I need. I also want to test the lifting capacity of your
The rest of the day was a busy one for our hero. With the aid of Mr.
Damon and the owner of the Whizzer, he went over every point
carefully. Then, as it was too late to attempt the return flight to
Shopton, he telegraphed his father, and he and Mr. Damon remained
over night with Mr. Fenwick.
In the morning, having written out a list of the things that would
be needed, Tom went out to Franklin Field, and repaired his own
monoplane. It was found that one of the electric wires connected
with the motor had broken, thus cutting off the spark. It was soon
repaired, and, in the presence of a large crowd, Tom and Mr. Damon
started on their return flight.
"Do you think you can make the Whizzer work, Tom?" asked Mr. Damon,
as they were flying high over Philadelphia.
"I'm a little dubious about it," was the reply. "But after I make some
changes I may have a different opinion. The whole affair is too big
and clumsy, that's the trouble; though the electrical part of it is
Shopton was reached without incident, in about three hours, and
there was no necessity, this time, of vol-planing back to earth.
After a short rest, Tom began getting together a number of special
tools and appliances, which he proposed taking back to Philadelphia
The young inventor made another trip to Mr. Fenwick's house the
first of the following week. He went by train this time, as he had
to ship his tools, and Mr. Damon did not accompany him. Then, with
the assistance of the inventor of the Whizzer, and several of his
mechanics, Tom began making the changes on the airship.
"Do you think you can make it fly?" asked Mr. Fenwick, anxiously,
after several days of labor.
"I hope so," replied our hero, and there was more confidence in his
tone than there had been before. As the work progressed, he began to
be more hopeful. "I'll make a trial flight, anyhow, in a few days,"
"Then I must send word to Mr. Damon," decided Mr. Fenwick. "He wants
to be on hand to see it, and, if possible, go up; so he told me."
"All right," assented Tom. "I only hope it does go up," he
concluded, in a low tone.
Chapter VIII Andy Foger's Revenge
During the following week, Tom was kept busy over the airship. He
made many important changes, and one of these was to use a new kind
of gas in the balloon bag. He wanted a gas with a greater lifting
power than that of the ordinary illuminating vapor which Mr. Fenwick
"Well," remarked Tom, as he came from the airship shed one
afternoon, "I think we can give it a try-out, Mr. Fenwick, in a few
days more. I shall have to go back to Shopton to get some articles I
need, and when I come back I will bring Mr. Damon with me, and we
will see what the Whizzer can do."
"Do you mean we will make a trial flight?"
"For how long a distance?"
"It all depends on how she behaves," answered Tom, with a smile. "If
possible, we'll make a long flight."
"Then I'll tell you what I'm going to do," went on the inventor,
"I'm going to put aboard a stock of provisions, and some other
supplies and stores, in case we are two or three days in the air."
"It might not be a bad plan," agreed Tom, "though I hardly think we
will be gone as long as that."
"Well, being out in the air always makes me hungry," proceeded Mr.
Fenwick, "so I'm going to take plenty of food along."
The time was to come, and that very soon, when this decision of the
inventor of the Whizzer stood the adventurers in good stead.
Tom returned to Shopton the next day, and sent word to have Mr.
Damon join him in time to go back to the Quaker City two days later.
"But why don't you start right back to Philadelphia to-morrow,"
asked Mr. Swift of his son.
"Because," answered Tom, and that was all the reason he would give,
though had any one seen him reading a certain note a few minutes
before that, which note was awaiting him on his arrival from the
Quaker City, they would not have wondered at his decision.
The note was brief. It merely said:
"Won't you come, and have some apple turnovers? The new cook is a
treasure, and the girls are anxious to meet you."
It was signed: Mary Nestor.
"I think I could enjoy some apple turnovers," remarked Tom, with a
Having gotten ready the few special appliances he wished to take
back to Philadelphia with him, Tom went, that evening, to call on
Miss Nestor. True to her promise, the girl had a big plate full of
apple turnovers, which she gaily offered our hero on his arrival,
and, on his laughing declination to partake of so many, she ushered
him into a room full of pretty girls, saying:
"They'll help you eat them, Tom. Girls, here is Mr. Swift, who
doesn't mind going up in the air or under the ocean, or even
catching runaway horses," by which last she referred to the time Tom
saved her life, and first made her acquaintance.
As for the young inventor, he gave a gasp, almost as if he had
plunged into a bath of icy water, at the sight of so many pretty
faces staring at him. He said afterward that he would rather have
vol-planed back to earth from a seven-mile height, than again face
such a battery of sparkling eyes.
But our hero soon recovered himself, and entered into the merriment
of the evening, and, before he knew it he was telling Miss Nestor
and her attractive guests something of his exploits.
"But I'm talking altogether too much about myself." he said,
finally. "How is the new cook Miss Nestor; and have you heard from
your father and mother since they sailed on the Resolute for the
"As to the new cook, she is a jewel of the first water," answered
Miss Nestor. "We all like her, and she is anxious for another ride
in a taxicab, as she calls your auto."
"She shall have it," declared Tom, "for those are the best apple
turnovers I ever ate."
"I'll tell her so," declared Mary. "She'll appreciate it coming from
an inventor of your ability."
"Have you heard from your parents?" asked Tom, anxious to change the
"Oh, yes. I had a wire to-day. They stopped at St. Augustine to let
me know they were having a glorious time aboard the yacht. Mr.
Hosbrook, the owner, is an ideal host, mamma said. They are
proceeding directly to the West Indies, now. I do hope they will
arrive safely. They say there are bad storms down there at this time
"Perhaps, if they are shipwrecked, Mr. Swift will go to their rescue
in one of his airships, or a submarine," suggested Mabel Jackson,
one of the several pretty girls.
"Oh, I hope he doesn't have to!" exclaimed Mary. "Don't speak of
shipwrecks! It makes me shudder," and she seemed unduly alarmed.
"Of course they won't have any trouble," asserted Tom, confidently,
more to reassure Miss Nestor, than from any knowledge he possessed;
"but if they do get cast away on a desert island, I'll certainly go
to their rescue," he added.
It was late when Tom started for home that night, for the society of
Miss Nestor and her friends made the time pass quickly. He promised
to call again, and try some more samples of the new cook's culinary
art, as soon as he had gotten Mr. Fenwick's airship in shape for
As, later that night, the young inventor came in sight of his home,
and the various buildings and shops surrounding it, his first glance
was toward the shed which contained his monoplane, Butterfly. That
little craft was Tom's pet. It had not cost him anything like as
much as had his other inventions, either in time or money, but he
cared more for it than for his big airship, Red Cloud. This was
principally because the Butterfly was so light and airy, and could
be gotten ready so quickly for a flight across country. It was
capable of long endurance, too, for an extra large supply of
gasolene and oil was carried aboard.
So it was with rather a start of surprise that Tom saw a light in
the structure where the Butterfly was housed.
"I wonder if dad or Mr. Jackson can be out there?" he mused. "Yet, I
don't see why they should be. They wouldn't be going for a flight at
night. Or perhaps Mr. Damon arrived, and is out looking it over."
A moment's reflection, however, told Tom that this last surmise
could not be true, since the eccentric man had telegraphed, saying
he would not arrive until the next day.
"Somebody's out there, however," went on Tom, "and I'm going to see
who it is. I hope it isn't Eradicate monkeying with the monoplane.
He's very curious, and he might get it out of order."
Tom increased his pace, and moved swiftly but softly toward the
shed. If there was an intruder inside he wanted to surprise him.
There were large windows to the place, and they would give a good
view of the interior. As Tom approached, the light within flickered,
and moved to and fro.
Tom reached one of the casements, and peered in. He caught a glimpse
of a moving figure, and he heard a peculiar ripping sound. Then, as
he sprang toward the front door, the light suddenly went out, and
the young inventor could hear some one running from the shop.
"They've seen me, and are trying to get away," thought the lad. "I
must catch them!"
He fairly leaped toward the portal, and, just as he reached it, a
figure sprang out. So close was Tom that the unknown collided with
him, and our hero went over on his back. The other person was tossed
back by the force of the impact, but quickly recovered himself, and
Not before, however, Tom had had a chance to glance at his face,
and, to the chagrin of the young inventor, he recognized, by the dim
light of a crescent moon, the countenance of Andy Foger! If
additional evidence was needed Tom fully recognized the form as that
of the town bully.
"Hold on there, Andy Foger!" shouted the young inventor. "What are
you doing in my shed? What right have you in there? What did you
Back came the answer through the night:
"I told you I'd get square with you, and I've done it," and then
Andy's footsteps died away, while a mocking laugh floated back to
Tom. What was Andy's revenge?
Chapter IX The Whizzer Flies
For a moment, Tom gazed after the fleeting figure of the cowardly
bully. He was half-minded to give pursuit, and then, realizing that
he could find Andy later if he wanted him, the young inventor
decided his best plan would be to see what damage had been done. For
that damage would follow Andy's secret visit to the shop, Tom was
Nor was his surmise wrong. Stepping into the building, the lad
switched on the lights, and he could not repress an exclamation of
chagrin as he looked toward his trim little monoplane, the
Now it was a Butterfly with broken wings, for Andy had slashed the
canvas of the planes in a score of places.
"The scoundrel!" growled Tom. "I'll make him suffer for this! He's
all but ruined my aeroplane."
Tom walked around his pet machine. As he came in front, and saw the
propeller, he gave another exclamation. The fine wooden blades of
several layers, gracefully curved, which had cost him so much in
time and labor to build up, and then fashion to the right shape, had
been hacked, and cut with an axe. The propeller was useless!
"More of Andy's work," murmured Tom. "This is about the worst yet!"
There came over him a feeling of great despondency, which was
succeeded by a justifiable rage. He wanted to take after the bully,
and give him a merciless beating. Then a calmer mood came over Tom.
"After all, what's the use?" he reasoned. "Whipping Andy wouldn't
mend the Butterfly. She's in bad shape, but I can repair her, when I
get time. Luckily, he didn't meddle with the engine. That's all
right." A hasty examination had shown this. "I guess I won't do
anything now," went on Tom. "I'll have my hands full getting Mr.
Fenwick's airship to run. After that I can come back here and fix up
my own. It's a good thing I don't have to depend on her for making
the trip to Philadelphia. Poor Butterfly! you sure are in a bad
way," and Tom felt almost as if he was talking to some living
creature, so wrapped up was he in his trim little monoplane.
After another disheartening look at his air craft, the young
inventor started to leave the shop. He looked at a door, the
fastening of which Andy had broken to gain admittance.
"I should have had the burglar alarm working, and this would never
have happened," reasoned Tom. All the buildings were arranged so
that if any one entered them after a certain hour, an alarm would
ring in the house. But of late, the alarm had not been set, as Tom
and his father were not working on any special inventions that
needed guarding. It was due to this oversight that Andy was able to
get in undetected.
"But it won't happen again," declared Tom, and he at once began
connecting the burglar-apparatus. He went into the house, and told
his father and the engineer what had occurred. They were both
indignant, and the engineer declared that he would sleep with one
eye open all night, ready to respond to the first alarm.
"Oh, there's no danger of Andy coming back right away," said Tom.
"He's too frightened. I wouldn't be surprised if he disappeared for
a time. He'll be thinking that I'm after him."
This proved true, as Andy had left town next morning, and to all
inquiries his mother said he had gone to visit relatives. She was
not aware of her son's meanness, and Tom did not tell her.
Mr. Damon arrived from his home in Waterfield that day, and, with
many "blessings," wanted to know if Tom was ready for the trial of
the electrical airship.
"Yes, we'll leave for Philadelphia to-morrow," was the answer.
"Are we going in the Butterfly? Bless my watch chain, but I like
that little machine!"
"It will be some time before you again have a flight in her," said
Tom, sorrowfully, as he told of Andy's act of vandalism.
"Why, bless my individuality!" cried Mr. Damon, indignantly. "I
never heard of such a thing! Never!"
It did little good to talk of it, however, and Tom wanted to forget
about it. He wished he had time to repair the monoplane before he
left home, but there was much to do to get ready for the trial of
"When will you be back, Tom?" asked Mr. Swift, as his son and Mr.
Damon departed for the Quaker City the following morning.
"Hard to say, dad. If I can make a long flight in the Whizzer I'll
do so. I may even drop down here and pay you a visit. But if I find
there are many more changes to make in her construction, which is
more than likely, I can't say when I'll return. I'll keep you
posted, however, by writing."
"Can't you arrange to send me some wireless messages?" asked the
older inventor, with a smile.
"I could, if I had thought to rig up the apparatus on Mr. Fenwick's
airship," was the reply. "I'll hardly have time to do it now,
"Send wireless messages from an aeroplane?" gasped Mr. Damon. "Bless
my gizzard! I never heard of such a thing!"
"Oh, it can be done," Tom assured him. And this was a fact. Tom had
installed a wireless apparatus on his Red Cloud recently, and it is
well known that several of the modern biplanes can send wireless
messages. The crossing and bracing wires of the frame are used for
sending wires, and in place of ground conductors there are trailers
which hang below the aeroplane. The current is derived directly from
the engine, and the remaining things needed are a small step-up
transformer, a key and a few other small parts. Tom had gone a step
farther than this, and had also arranged to receive wireless
messages, though few modern aeroplanes are thus equipped as yet.
But, of course, there was no time now to install a wireless
apparatus on Mr. Fenwick's craft. Tom thought he would be lucky if
he got the Whizzer to make even a short flight.
"Well, let me hear from you when you can," requested Mr. Swift, and
Tom promised. It was some time after that, and many strange things
happened before Tom Swift again communicated with his father, at any
The young inventor had bidden farewell to Miss Nestor the night
previous. She stated that she had a message that day from her
parents aboard the Resolute, which spoke a passing steamer. Mr. and
Mrs. Nestor, and the other guests of Mr. Hosbrook were well, and
anticipated a fine time on reaching the West Indies.
Tom now said good-by to his father, the housekeeper and Mr. Jackson,
not forgetting, of course, Eradicate Sampson.
"Don't let Andy Foger come sneaking around here, Rad," cautioned the
"'Deed an' I won't!" exclaimed the colored man. "Ef he do, I'll hab
Boomerang kick him t' pieces, an' den I'll whitewash him so his own
folks won't know him! Oh, don't you worry, Massa Tom. Dat Andy won't
do no funny business when I'm around!"
Tom laughed, and started for the station with Mr. Damon. They
arrived in Philadelphia that afternoon, the trip being very slow, as
compared with the one made by the monoplane. They found Mr. Fenwick
anxiously awaiting them, and Tom at once started work on the
He kept at it until late that night, and resumed early the next
morning. Many more changes and adjustments were made, and that
afternoon, the young inventor said:
"I think we'll give it a try-out, Mr. Fenwick."
"Do you mean make a flight?"
"Yes, if she'll take it; but only a short one. I want to get her up
in the air, and see how she behaves."
"Well, if you find out, after you're up, that she does well, you may
want to take a long flight," suggested Mr. Fenwick. "If you do, why
I have everything aboard necessary for a long voyage. The Whizzer is
well stocked with provisions."
An hour later, the big electric machine was wheeled out into the
yard, for, in spite of her size, four men could easily move the
craft about, so well was she balanced. Aside from a few personal
friends of the inventor, himself, his machinists, Tom and Mr. Damon,
no one was present at the try-out.
Tom, Mr. Damon and Mr. Fenwick climbed into the car which was
suspended below the gas bag, and between the wing-like planes on
either side. The young inventor had decided to make the Whizzer rise
by scudding her across the ground on the bicycle wheels, with which
she was equipped, and then by using the tilting planes to endeavor
to lift her off the earth. He wanted to see if she would go up that
way, without the use of the gas bag.
All was in readiness. The motor was started and the machinery began
to hum and throb. The propellers gained speed with every revolution.
The airship had been made fast by a rope, to which was attached a
strong spring balance, as it was desired to see how much pull the
engine would give.
"Eight hundred pounds," announced one of the machinists.
"A thousand would be better, but we'll try it," Murmured Tom. "Cast
The rope was loosened, and, increasing the speed of the engine, Tom
signalled to the men to give a little momentum to the craft. She
began running over the smooth ground. There was a cheer from the few
spectators. Certainly the Whizzer made good time on the earth.
Tom was anxiously watching the gages and other instruments. He
wanted a little more speed, but could not seem to get it. He ran the
motor to the utmost, and then, seeing the necessity of making an
attempt to get up into the air, before the end of the speeding
ground was reached, he pulled the elevating plane lever.
The front of the Whizzer rose, and then settled down. Tom quickly
shut off the power, and jammed on the brake, an arrangement of
spikes that dug into the earth, for the high board fence loomed up
"What's the matter?" cried Mr. Fenwick, anxiously.
"Couldn't get up speed enough," answered the young inventor. "We
must have more momentum to make her rise."
"Can it be gotten?"
"I think so. I'll gear the motor higher."
It took an hour to do this. Once more the scale test was applied. It
registered a pull of fifteen hundred pounds now.
"We'll go up," said Tom, grimly.
Once more the motors spit out fire, and the propellers whirled so
that they looked like mere circles of light. Once more the Whizzer
shot over the ground, but this time, as she neared the fence, she
rose up like a bird, cleared it like a trick horse, and soared off
into the air!
The Whizzer was flying!
Chapter X Over The Ocean
"Hurrah!" cried Mr. Fenwick in delight. "My machine is really flying
"Yes," answered Tom, as he adjusted various levers and gears, "she
is going. It's not as high as I'd like, but it is doing very well,
considering the weight of the craft, and the fact that we have not
used the gas bag. I'm going to let that fill now, and we'll go up.
Don't you want to steer, Mr. Fenwick?"
"No, you manage it, Tom, until it's in good running shape. I don't
want to 'hoodoo' it. I worked as hard as I could, and never got more
than two feet off the ground. Now I'm really sailing. It's great!"
He was very enthusiastic, and Tom himself was not a little pleased
at his own success, for certainly the airship had looked to be a
very dubious proposition at first.
"Bless my gaiters! But we are doing pretty well," remarked Mr.
Damon, looking down on the field where Mr. Fenwick's friends and the
machinists were gathered, cheering and waving their hands.
"We'll do better," declared Tom.
He had already set the gas machine in operation, and was now looking
over the electric apparatus, to see that it was working well. It
needed some adjustments, which he made.
All this while the Whizzer was moving about in a big circle, for the
rudder had been automatically set to so swing the craft. It was
about two hundred feet high, but soon after the gas began to enter
the bag it rose until it was nearly five thousand feet high. This
satisfied Tom that the airship could do better than he expected, and
he decided to return nearer earth.
In going down, he put the craft through a number of evolutions
designed to test her ability to answer the rudders promptly. The lad
saw opportunity for making a number of changes, and suggested them
to Mr. Fenwick.
"Are you going any farther?" asked the owner of the Whizzer, as he
saw that his craft was slowly settling.
"No, I think we've done enough for the first day," said Tom, "But
I'd like you to handle her now, Mr. Fenwick. You can make the
landing, while I watch the motor and other machines."
"Yes. I guess I can make a landing all right," assented the
inventor. "I'm better at coming down than going up."
He did make a good descent, and received the congratulation of his
friends as he stepped from the airship. Tom was also given much
praise for his success in making the craft go at all, for Mr.
Fenwick and his acquaintances had about given up hope that she ever
"Well, what do you think of her?" Mr. Fenwick wanted to know of the
young inventor, who replied that, as soon as some further changes
had been made, they would attempt a long flight.
This promise was kept two days later. They were busy days for Tom,
Mr. Fenwick and the latter's assistants. Tom sent a short note to
his father telling of the proposed long flight, and intimated that
he might make a call in Shopton if all went well. He also sent a
wire to Miss Nestor, hinting that she might have some apple
turnovers ready for him.
But Tom never called for that particular pastry, though it was
gotten ready for him when the girl received his message.
All was in readiness for the long flight, and a preliminary test had
demonstrated that the Whizzer had been wonderfully improved by the
changes Tom made. The young inventor looked over the supply of food
Mr. Fenwick had placed aboard, glanced at the other stores, and
"How long do you expect to be gone, Mr. Fenwick?"
"Why, don't you think we can stay out a week?"
"That's quite a while," responded Tom. "We may be glad to return in
two days, or less. But I think we're all ready to start. Are any of
your friends going?"
"I've tried to pursuade some of them to accompany me, but they are a
bit timid," said the inventor. "I guess we three will make up the
party this time, though if our trip is a successful one I'll be
overwhelmed with requests for rides, I suppose."
As before, a little crowd gathered to see the start. The day was
warm, but there was a slight haziness which Tom did not like. He
hoped, though, that it would pass over before they had gone far.
"Do you wish to head for any particular spot, Mr. Fenwick?" asked
Tom, as they were entering the cabin.
"Yes, I would like to go down and circle Cape May, New Jersey, if we
could. I have a friend who has a summer cottage there, and he was
always laughing at my airship. I'd just like to drop down in front
of his place now, and pay him a call."
"We'll try it," assented Tom, with a smile.
An auspicious start was made, the Whizzer taking the air after a
short flight across the ground, and then, with the lifting gas
aiding in pulling the craft upward, the airship started to sail high
over the city of Philadelphia.
So swiftly did it rise that the cheers of the little crowd of Mr.
Fenwick's friends were scarcely heard. Up and up it went, and then a
little later, to the astonishment of the crowds in the streets, Tom
put the airship twice in a circle around the statue of William Penn,
on the top of the City Hall.
"Now you steer," the lad invited Mr. Fenwick. "Take her straight
across the Delaware River, and over Camden, New Jersey, and then
head south, for Cape May. We ought to make it in an hour, for we are
getting up good speed."
Leaving the owner in charge of his craft, to that gentleman's no
small delight, Tom and Mr. Damon began an inspection of the
electrical and other machinery. There was much that needed
attention, but Tom soon had the automatic apparatus in working
order, and then less attention need be given to it.
Several times the young investor looked out of the windows with
which the cabin was fitted. Mr. Damon noticed this.
"Bless my shoe laces, Tom," he said. "What's the matter?"
"I don't like the looks of the weather," was the answer. "I think
we're in for a storm."
"Then let's put back."
"No, it would be too bad to disappoint Mr. Fenwick, now that we have
made such a good start. He wants to make a long flight, and I can't
blame him," spoke Tom, in a low voice.
"But if there's danger--"
"Oh, well, we can soon be at Cape May, and start back. The wind is
freshening rather suddenly, though," and Tom looked at the
anemometer, which showed a speed of twenty miles an hour. However,
it was in their favor, aiding them to make faster time.
The speed of the Whizzer was now about forty miles an hour, not fast
for an air craft, but sufficiently speedy in trying out a new
machine. Tom looked at the barograph, and noted that they had
attained an altitude of seven thousand five hundred feet.
"That's better than millionaire Daxtel's distance of seven thousand
one hundred and five feet," remarked the lad, with a smile, "and it
breaks Jackson's climb of seven thousand three hundred and three
feet, which is pretty good for your machine, Mr. Fenwick."
"Do you really think so?" asked the pleased inventor.
"Yes. And we'll do better than that in time, but it's best to go
slow at first, until we see how she is standing the strain. This is
high and fast enough for the present."
They kept on, and as Tom saw that the machinery was working well, he
let it out a little, The Whizzer at once leaped forward, and, a
little later they came within sight of Cape May, the Jersey coast
"Now to drop down and visit my friend," said Mr. Fenwick, with a
smile. "Won't he be surprised!"
"I don't think we'd better do it," said Tom.
"Well, the wind is getting stronger every minute and it will be
against us on the way back. If we descend, and try to make another
ascension we may fail. We're up in the air now, and it may be easy
to turn around and go back. Then, again, it may not, but it
certainly will be easier to shift around up here than down on the
ground. So I'd rather not descend--that is, not entirely to the
"Well, just as you say, though I wanted my friend to know I could
build a successful airship."
"Oh, we can get around that. I'll take her down as low as is safe,
and fly over his house, if you'll point it out, and you can drop him
a message in one of the pasteboard tubes we carry for that purpose."
"That's a good idea," assented Mr. Fenwick. "I'll do it."
Tom sent the Whizzer down until the hotels and cottages could be
made out quite plainly. After looking with a pair of opera glasses,
Mr. Fenwick picked out the residence of his friend, and Tom prepared
to circle about the roof.
By this time the presence of the airship had become known to
hundreds, and crowds were eagerly watching it.
"There he is! There's my friend who didn't believe I would ever
succeed!" exclaimed Mr. Fenwick, pointing to a man who stood in the
street in front of a large, white house. "I'll drop him a message!"
One was in readiness in a weighted pasteboard cylinder, and soon it
was falling downward. The airship was moving slowly, as it was
beating against the wind.
Leaning out of the cabin window, Mr. Fenwick shouted to his friend:
"Hey, Will! I thought you said my airship would never go! I'll come
and give you a ride, some day!"
Whether the gentleman understood what Mr. Fenwick shouted at him is
doubtful, but he saw the inventor waving his hand, and he saw the
falling cylinder, and a look of astonishment spread over his face,
as he ran to pick up the message.
"We're going up now, and will try to head for home," said Tom, a
moment later, as he shifted the rudder.
"Bless my storage battery!" cried Mr. Damon. "But we have had a fine
"A much better one than we'll have going back," observed Tom, in a
"Why; what's the matter?" asked the eccentric man.
"The wind has increased to a gale, and will be dead against us,"
Mr. Fenwick was busy writing another message to drop, and he paid
little attention to the young inventor. Tom sent the craft well up
into the air, and then tried to turn it about, and head back for
Philadelphia. No sooner had he done so than the airship was met by
the full force of the wind, which was now almost a hurricane. It had
steadily increased, but, as long as they were moving with it, they
did not notice it so much. Once they attempted to stem its fury they
found themselves almost helpless.
Tom quickly realized this, and, giving up his intention of beating
up against the wind, he turned the craft around, and let it fly
before the gale, the propellers aiding to get up a speed of seventy
miles an hour.
Mr. Fenwick, who had dropped the last of his messages, came from his
small private cabin, to where Mr. Damon and Tom were in a low-voiced
conversation near the engines. The owner of the Whizzer, happened to
look down through a plate-glass window in the floor of car. What he
saw caused him to give a gasp of astonishment.
"Why--why!" he exclaimed. "We--we're over the ocean."
"Yes," answered Tom, quietly, as he gazed down on the tumbling
billows below them. They had quickly passed over Cape May, across
the sandy beach, and were now well out over the Atlantic.
"Why--why are we out here?" asked Mr. Fenwick. "Isn't it dangerous--in
an airship that hasn't been thoroughly tried yet?"
"Dangerous? Yes, somewhat," replied Tom, slowly. "But we can't help
ourselves, Mr. Fenwick. We can't turn around and go back in this
gale, and we can't descend."
"Then what's to be done?"
"Nothing, except to keep on until the gale blows itself out."
"And how long will that be?"
"I don't know--a week, maybe."
"Bless my coffee pot, I'm glad we've got plenty on board to eat!"
exclaimed Mr. Damon.
Chapter XI A Night Of Terror
After the first shock of Tom's announcement, the two men, who were
traveling with him in the airship, showed no signs of fear. Yet it
was alarming to know that one was speeding over the mighty ocean,
before a terrific gale, with nothing more substantial under one that
a comparatively frail airship.
Still Mr. Damon knew Tom of old, and had confidence in his ability,
and, while Mr. Fenwick was not so well acquainted with our hero, he
had heard much about him, and put faith in his skill to carry them
out of their present difficulty.
"Are you sure you can't turn around and go back?" asked Mr. Fenwick.
His knowledge of air-currents was rather limited.
"It is out of the question," replied Tom, simply. "We would surely
rip this craft to pieces if we attempted to buffet this storm."
"Is it so bad, then?" asked Mr. Damon, forgetting to bless anything
in the tense excitement of the moment.
"It might be worse," was the reply of the young inventor. "The wind
is blowing about eighty miles an hour at times, and to try to turn
now would mean that we would tear the planes loose from the ship.
True, we could still keep up by means of the gas bag, but even that
might be injured. Going as we are, in the same direction as that in
which the wind is blowing, we do not feel the full effect of it."
"But, perhaps, if we went lower down, or higher up, we could get in
a different current of air," suggested Mr. Fenwick, who had made
some study of aeronautics.
"I'll try," assented Tom, simply. He shifted the elevating rudder,
and the Whizzer began to go up, slowly, for there was great lateral
pressure on her large surface. But Tom knew his business, and urged
the craft steadily. The powerful electric engines, which were the
invention of Mr. Fenwick, stood them in good stead, and the
barograph soon showed that they were steadily mounting.
"Is the wind pressure any less?" inquired Mr. Damon, anxiously.
"On the contrary, it seems to be increasing," replied Tom, with a
glance at the anemometer. "It's nearly ninety miles an hour now."
"Then, aided by the propellers, we must be making over a hundred
miles an hour." said the inventor.
"We are,--a hundred and thirty," assented Tom.
"We'll be blown across the ocean at this rate," exclaimed Mr. Damon.
"Bless my soul! I didn't count on that."
"Perhaps we had better go down," suggested Mr. Fenwick. "I don't
believe we can get above the gale."
"I'm afraid not," came from Tom. "It may be a bit better down
Accordingly, the rudder was changed, and the Whizzer pointed her
nose downward. None of the lifting gas was let out, as it was
desired to save that for emergencies.
Down, down, down, went the great airship, until the adventurers
within, by gazing through the plate glass window in the floor of the
cabin, could see the heaving, white-capped billows, tossing and
tumbling below them.
"Look out, or we'll be into them!" shouted Mr. Damon.
"I guess we may as well go back to the level where we were,"
declared Tom. "The wind, both above and below that particular strata
is stronger, and we will be safer up above. Our only chance is to
scud before it, until it has blown itself out. And I hope it will be
"Why?" asked Mr. Damon, in a low voice.
"Because we may be blown so far that we can not get back while our
power holds out, and then--" Tom did not finish, but Mr. Damon knew
what he meant--death in the tossing ocean, far from land, when the
Whizzer, unable to float in the air any longer, should drop into the
They were again on a level, where the gale blew less furiously than
either above or below, but this was not much relief. It seemed as if
the airship would go to pieces, so much was it swayed and tossed
about. But Mr. Fenwick, if he had done nothing else, had made a
staunch craft, which stood the travelers in good stead.
All the rest of that day they swept on, at about the same speed.
There was nothing for them to do, save watch the machinery,
occasionally replenishing the oil tanks, or making minor
"Well," finally remarked Mr. Damon, when the afternoon was waning
away, "if there's nothing else to do, suppose we eat. Bless my
appetite, but I'm hungry! and I believe you said, Mr. Fenwick, that
you had plenty of food aboard."
"So we have, but the excitement of being blown out to sea on our
first real trip, made me forget all about it. I'll get dinner at
once, if you can put up with an amateur's cooking."
"And I'll help," offered Mr. Damon. "Tom can attend to the airship,
and we'll serve the meals. It will take our minds off our troubles."
There was a well equipped kitchen aboard the Whizzer and soon savory
odors were coming from it. In spite of the terror of their
situation, and it was not to be denied that they were in peril, they
all made a good meal, though it was difficult to drink coffee and
other liquids, owing to the sudden lurches which the airship gave
from time to time as the gale tossed her to and fro.
Night came, and, as the blackness settled down, the gale seemed to
increase in fury. It howled through the slender wire rigging of the
Whizzer, and sent the craft careening from side to side, and
sometimes thrust her down into a cavern of the air, only to lift her
high again, almost like a ship on the heaving ocean below them.
As darkness settled in blacker and blacker, Tom had a glimpse below
him, of tossing lights on the water.
"We just passed over some vessel," he announced. "I hope they are in
no worse plight than we are." Then, there suddenly came to him a
thought of the parents of Mary Nestor, who were somewhere on the
ocean, in the yacht Resolute bound for the West Indies.
"I wonder if they're out in this storm, too?" mused Tom. "If they
are, unless the vessel is a staunch one, they may be in danger."
The thought of the parents of the girl he cared so much for being in
peril, was not reassuring to Tom, and he began to busy himself about
the machinery of the airship, to take his mind from the presentiment
that something might happen to the Resolute.
"We'll have our own troubles before morning," the lad mused, "if
this wind doesn't die down."
There was no indication that this was going to be the case, for the
gale increased rather than diminished. Tom looked at their speed
gage. They were making a good ninety miles an hour, for it had been
decided that it was best to keep the engine and propellers going, as
they steadied the ship.
"Ninety miles an hour," murmured Tom. "And we've been going at that
rate for ten hours now. That's nearly a thousand miles. We are quite
a distance out to sea."
He looked at a compass, and noted that, instead of being headed
directly across the Atlantic they were bearing in a southerly
"At this rate, we won't come far from getting to the West Indies
ourselves," reasoned the young inventor. "But I think the gale will
die away before morning."
The storm did not, however. More fiercely it blew through the hours
of darkness. It was a night of terror, for they dared not go to
sleep, not knowing at what moment the ship might turn turtle, or
even rend apart, and plunge with them into the depths of the sea.
So they sat up, occasionally attending to the machinery, and noting
the various gages. Mr. Damon made hot coffee, which they drank from
time to time, and it served to refresh them.
There came a sudden burst of fury from the storm, and the airship
rocked as if she was going over.
"Bless my heart!" cried Mr. Damon, springing up. "That was a close
Tom said nothing. Mr. Fenwick looked pale and alarmed.
The hours passed. They were swept ever onward, at about the same
speed, sometimes being whirled downward, and again tossed upward at
the will of the wind. The airship was well-nigh helpless, and Tom,
as he realized their position, could not repress a fear in his heart
as he thought of the parents of the girl he loved being tossed about
on the swirling ocean, in a frail pleasure yacht.
Chapter XII A Downward Glide
They sat in the cabin of the airship, staring helplessly at each
other. Occasionally Tom rose to attend to one of the machines, or
Mr. Fenwick did the same. Occasionally, Mr. Damon uttered a remark.
Then there was silence, broken only by the howl of the gale.
It seemed impossible for the Whizzer to travel any faster, yet when
Tom glanced at the speed gage he noted, with a feeling of surprise,
akin to horror, that they were making close to one hundred and fifty
miles an hour. Only an aeroplane could have done it, and then only
when urged on by a terrific wind which added to the speed produced
by the propellers.
The whole craft swayed and trembled, partly from the vibration of
the electrical machinery, and partly from the awful wind. Mr.
Fenwick came close to Tom, and exclaimed:
"Do you think it would be any use to try once more to go above or
below the path of the storm?"
Tom's first impulse was to say that it would be useless, but he
recollected that the craft belonged to Fenwick, and surely that
gentleman had a right to make a suggestion. The young inventor
"We'll try to go up," he said. "If that doesn't work, I'll see if I
can force her down. It will be hard work, though. The wind is too
Tom shifted the levers and rudders. His eyes were on the
barograph--that delicate instrument, the trembling hand of which
registered their height. Tom had tilted the deflection rudder to send
them up, but as he watched the needle he saw it stationary. They were
not ascending, though the great airship was straining to mount to an
upper current where there might be calm.
It was useless, however, and Tom, seeing the futility of it, shifted
the rudder to send them downward. This was more easily accomplished,
but it was a change for the worse, since, the nearer to the ocean
they went, the fiercer blew the wind.
"Back! Go back up higher!" cried Mr. Damon,
"We can't!" yelled Tom. "We've got to stay here now!"
"Oh, but this is awful!" exclaimed Mr. Fenwick. "We can never stand
The airship swaged more than ever, and the occupants were tossed
about in the cabin, from side to side. Indeed, it did seem that
human beings never could come alive out of that fearful ordeal.
As Tom looked from one of the windows of the cabin, he noted a pale,
grayish sort of light outside. At first he could not understand what
it was, then, as he observed the sickly gleams of the incandescent
electric lamps, he knew that the hour of dawn was at hand.
"See!" he exclaimed to his companions, pointing to the window.
"Morning is coming."
"Morning!" gasped Mr. Damon. "Is the night over? Now, perhaps we
shall get rid of the storm."
"I'm afraid not," answered Tom, as he noted the anemometer and felt
the shudderings of the Whizzer as she careened on through the gale.
"It hasn't blown out yet!"
The pale light increased. The electrics seemed to dim and fade. Tom
looked to the engines. Some of the apparatus was in need of oil, and
he supplied it. When he came back to the main cabin, where stood Mr.
Damon and Mr. Fenwick, it was much lighter outside.
"Less than a day since we left Philadelphia," murmured the owner of
the Whizzer, as he glanced at a distance indicator, "yet we have
come nearly sixteen hundred miles. We certainly did travel top
speed. I wonder where we are?"
"Still over the ocean," replied Mr. Damon, as he looked down at the
heaving billows rolling amid crests of foam far below them. "Though
what part of it would be hard to say. We'll have to reckon out our
position when it gets calmer."
Tom came from the engine room. His face wore a troubled look, and he
said, addressing the older inventor:
"Mr. Fenwick, I wish you'd come and look at the gas generating
apparatus. It doesn't seem to be working properly."
"Anything wrong?" asked Mr. Damon, suspiciously.
"I hope not," replied Tom, with all the confidence he could muster.
"It may need adjusting. I am not so familiar with it as I am with
the one on the Red Cloud. The gas seems to be escaping from the bag,
and we may have to descend, for some distance."
"But the aeroplanes will keep us up," said Mr. Daman.
"Yes--they will," and Tom hesitated. "That is, unless something
happens to them. They are rather frail to stand alone the brunt of
the gale, and I wish--"
Tom did not complete the sentence. Instead, he paused suddenly and
seemed to be intently listening.
From without there came a rending, tearing, crashing sound. The
airship quivered from end to end, and seemed to make a sudden dive
downward. Then it appeared to recover, and once more glided forward.
Tom, followed by Mr. Fenwick, made a rush for the compartment where
the machine was installed. They had no sooner reached it than there
sounded an explosion, and the airship recoiled as if it had hit a
"Bless my shaving brush! What's that?" cried Mr. Damon. "Has
"I'm rather afraid there has," answered Tom, solemnly. "It sounded
as though the gas bag went up. And I'm worried over the strength of
the planes. We must make an investigation!"
"We're falling!" almost screamed Mr. Fenwick, as he glanced at the
barograph, the delicate needle of which was swinging to and fro,
registering different altitudes.
"Bless my feather bed! So we are!" shouted Mr. Damon. "Let's jump,
and avoid being caught under the airship!"
He darted for a large window, opening from the main cabin, and was
endeavoring to raise it when Tom caught his hand.
"What are you trying to do," asked the lad, hoarsely.
"Save my life! I want to get out of this as soon as I can. I'm going
"Don't think of it! You'd be instantly killed. We're too high for a
jump, even into the ocean."
"The ocean! Oh, is that still below us? Is there any chance of being
saved? What can be done?" Mr. Damon hesitated.
"We must first find out how badly we are damaged," said Tom,
quietly. "We must keep our heads, and be calm, no matter what
happens. I need your help, Mr. Damon."
This served to recall the rather excited man to his senses. He came
back to the centre of the cabin, which was no easy task, for the
floor of it was tilted at first one angle, and then another. He
stood at Tom's side.
"What can I do to help you?" he asked. Mr. Fenwick was darting here
and there, examining the different machines. None of them seemed to
"If you will look and see what has happened to our main wing planes,
I will see how much gas we have left in the bag," suggested Tom.
"Then we can decide what is best to be done. We are still quite
high, and it will take some time to complete our fall, as, even if
everything is gone, the material of the bag will act as a sort of
Mr. Damon darted to a window in the rear of the cabin, where he
could obtain a glimpse of the main wing planes. He gave a cry of
terror and astonishment.
"Two of the planes are gone!" he reported. "They are torn and are
"I feared as much," retorted Tom, quietly, "The gale was too much
"What of the lifting gas?" asked Mr. Fenwick, quickly.
"It has nearly all flowed out of the retaining bag."
"Then we must make more at once. I will start the generating
He darted toward it.
"It will be useless," spoke Tom, quietly.
"Because there is no bag left to hold it. The silk and rubber
envelope has been torn to pieces by the gale. The wind is even
stronger than it was last night."
"Then what's to be done?" demanded Mr. Damon, with a return of his
alarmed and nervous manner. "Bless my fingernails! What's to be
For an instant Tom did not answer. It was constantly getting
lighter, though there was no sun, for it was obscured by scudding
clouds. The young inventor looked critically at the various gages
"Is--is there any chance for us?" asked Mr. Fenwick, quietly.
"I think so," answered Tom, with a hopeful smile. "We have about two
thousand feet to descend, for we have fallen nearly that distance
since the accident."
"Two thousand feet to fall!" gasped Mr. Damon. "We can never do it
"I think so," spoke Tom.
"Bless my gizzard! How?" fairly exploded Mr. Damon.
"By vol-planing down!"
"But, even if we do, we will fall into the ocean!" cried Mr.
Fenwick. "We will be drowned!"
"No," and Tom spoke more quietly than before. "We are over a large
island." he went on, "and I propose to let the disabled airship vol-plane
down to it. That is our only chance."
"Over an island!" cried Mr. Damon. He looked down through the floor
observation window. Tom had spoken truly. At that moment they were
over a large island, which had suddenly loomed up in the wild and
desolate waste of the ocean. They had reached its vicinity just in
Tom stepped to the steering and rudder levers, and took charge. He
was going to attempt a most difficult feat--that of guiding a
disabled airship back to earth in the midst of a hurricane, and
landing her on an unknown island. Could he do it?
There was but one answer. He must try. It was the only chance of
saving their lives, and a slim one at best.
Down shot the damaged Whizzer like some giant bird with broken
wings, but Tom Swift was in charge, and it seemed as if the craft
knew it, as she began that earthward glide.
Chapter XIII On Earthquake Island
Mingled feelings possessed the three adventurers within the airship.
Mr. Damon and Mr. Fenwick had crowded to the window, as Tom spoke,
to get a glimpse of the unknown island toward which they were
shooting. They could see it more plainly now, from the forward
casement, as well as from the one in the bottom of the craft. A
long, narrow, rugged piece of land it was, in the midst of the
heaving ocean, for the storm still raged and lashed the waves to
"Can you make it?" asked Mr. Damon, in a low voice.
"I think so," answered Tom, more cheerfully.
"Shall I shut down the motor?" inquired the older inventor.
"Yes, you might as well. We don't need the propellers now, and I may
be better able to make the glide without them."
The buzzing and purring electrical apparatus was shut down. Silence
reigned in the airship, but the wind still howled outside. As Tom
had hoped, the ship became a little more steady with the stopping of
the big curved blades, though had the craft been undamaged they
would have served to keep her on an even keel.
With skillful hand he so tilted the elevating planes that, after a
swift downward glide, the head of the Whizzer would be thrown up, so
to speak, and she would sail along in a plane parallel to the
island. This had the effect of checking her momentum, just as the
aviator checks the downward rush of his monoplane or biplane when he
is making a landing.
Tom repeated this maneuver several times, until a glance at his
barograph showed that they had but a scant sixty feet to go. There
was time but for one more upward throwing of the Whizzer's nose, and
Tom held to that position as long as possible. They could now make
out the topography of the island plainly, for it was much lighter.
Tom saw a stretch of sandy beach, and steered for that.
Downward shot the airship, inert and lifeless. It was not like
gliding his little Butterfly to earth after a flight, but Tom hoped
he could make it. They were now within ten feet of the earth,
skimming forward. Tom tried another upward tilt, but the forward
planes would not respond. They could get no grip on the air.
With a crash that could have been heard some distance the Whizzer
settled to the sand. It ran along a slight distance, and then, as
the bicycle wheels collapsed under the pressure, the airship seemed
to go together in a shapeless mass.
At the first impact with the earth, Tom had leaped away from the
steering wheel and levers, for he did not want to be crushed against
them. Mr. Damon and Mr. Fenwick, in pursuance of a plan adopted when
they found that they were falling, had piled a lot of seat cushions
around them. They had also provided some as buffers for Tom, and our
hero, at the instant of the crash, had thrown himself behind and
It seemed as if the whole ship went to pieces. The top of the main
cabin crashed down, as the side supports gave way, but, fortunately,
there were strong main braces, and the roof did not fall completely
upon our friends.
The whole bottom of the craft was forced upward and had it not been
for the protecting cushions, there might have been serious injuries
for all concerned. As it was they were badly bruised and shaken up.
After the first crash, and succeeding it an instant later, there
came a second smash, followed by a slight explosion, and a shower of
sparks could be seen in the engine room.
"That's the electrical apparatus smashing through the floor!" called
Tom. "Come, let's get out of here before the gasolene sets anything
on fire. Are you all right, Mr. Damon, and you, Mr. Fenwick?"
"Yes, I guess so," answered the inventor. "Oh, what a terrible
crash! My airship is ruined!"
"You may be glad we are alive," said Mr. Damon. "Bless my top knot,
He did not finish the sentence. At that moment a piece of wood,
broken from the ceiling, where it had hung by a strip of canvas came
crashing down, and hit Mr. Damon on the head.
The eccentric man toppled over on his pile of cushions, from which
he was arising when he was struck.
"Oh, is he killed?" gasped Mr. Fenwick.
"I hope not!" cried Tom. "We must get him out of here, at all
events. There may be a fire."
They both sprang to Mr. Damon's aid, and succeeded in lifting him
out. There was no difficulty in emerging from the airship as there
were big, broken gaps, on all sides of what was left of the cabin.
Once in the outer air Mr. Damon revived, and opened his eyes.
"Much hurt?" asked Tom, feeling of his friend's head.
"No--no, I--I guess not," was the slow answer. "I was stunned for a
moment. I'm all right now. Nothing broken, I guess," and his hand
went to his head.
"No, nothing broken," added Tom, cheerfully, "but you've got a lump
there as big as an ostrich egg. Can you walk?"
"Oh, I'm all right. Bless my stars, what a wreck!"
Mr. Damon looked at the remains of the airship. It certainly was a
wreck! The bent and twisted planes were wrapped about the afterpart,
the gas bag was but a shred, the frame was splintered and twisted,
and the under part, where the starting wheels were placed, resembled
a lot of broken bicycles. The cabin looked like a shack that had
sustained an explosion of dynamite.
"It's a wonder we came out alive," said Mr. Fenwick, in a low voice.
"Indeed it is," agreed Tom, as he came back with a tin can full of
sea water, with which to bathe Mr. Damon's head. The lad had picked
up the can from where it had rolled from the wreck, and they had
landed right on the beach.
"It doesn't seem to blow so hard," observed Mr. Damon, as he was
tenderly sopping his head with a handkerchief wet in the salt water.
"No, the wind is dying out, but it happened too late to do us any
good," remarked Tom, sorrowfully. "Though if it hadn't blown us this
far, we might have come to grief over the ocean, and be floundering
in that, instead of on dry land."
"That's so," agreed Mr. Fenwick, who was carefully feeling of some
bruises on his legs. "I wonder where we are, anyhow?"
"I haven't the least idea," responded Tom. "It's an island, but
which one, or where it is I don't know. We were blown nearly two
thousand miles, I judge."
He walked over and surveyed the wreck. Now that the excitement was
over he was beginning to be aware of numerous bruises and
contusions, His legs felt rather queer, and on rolling up his
trousers he found there was a deep cut in the right shin, just below
his knee. It was bleeding, but he bandaged it with a spare
handkerchief, and walked on.
Peering about, he saw that nearly the whole of the machinery in the
engine room, including most of the electrical apparatus, had fallen
bodily through the floor, and now rested on the sand.
"That looks to be in pretty good shape." mused Tom, "but it's a
question whether it will ever be any good to us. We can't rebuild
the airship here, that's certain."
He walked about the wreck, and then returned to his friends. Mr.
Damon was more like himself, and Mr. Fenwick had discovered that he
had only minor bruises.
"Bless my coffee cup!" exclaimed Mr. Damon. "I declare, I feel
hungry. I wonder if there's anything left to eat in the wreck?"
"Plenty," spoke Tom, cheerfully. "I'll get it out. I can eat a
sandwich or too myself, and perhaps I can set up the gasolene stove,
and cook something."
As the young inventor was returning to the wreck, he was halted
halfway by a curious trembling feeling. At first he thought it was a
weakness of his legs, caused by his cut, but a moment later he
realized with a curious, sickening sensation that it was the
ground--the island itself--that was shaking and trembling.
The lad turned back. Mr. Damon and Mr. Fenwick were staring after
him with fear showing on their faces.
"What was that?" cried the inventor.
"Bless my gizzard! Did you feel that, Tom?" cried Mr. Damon. "The
whole place is shaking!"
Indeed, there was a stronger tremor now, and it was accompanied by a
low, rumbling sound, like distant thunder. The adventurers were
swaying to and fro.
Suddenly they were tossed to the ground by a swaying motion, and not
far off a great crack opened in the earth. The roaring, rumbling
sound increased in volume.
"An earthquake! It's an earthquake!" cried Tom. "We're in the midst
of an earthquake!"
Chapter XIV A Night In Camp
The rumbling and roaring continued for perhaps two minutes, during
which time the castaways found it impossible to stand, for the
island was shaking under their feet with a sickening motion. Off to
one side there was a great fissure in the earth, and, frightened as
he was, Tom looked to see if it was extending in their direction.
If it was, or if a crack opened near them, they might be
precipitated into some bottomless abyss, or into the depths of the
sea. But the fissure did not increase in length or breadth, and,
presently the rumbling, roaring sound subsided. The island grew
quiet and the airship travelers rose to their feet.
"Bless my very existence! What happened?" cried Mr. Damon.
"It was an earthquake; wasn't it, Tom?" asked Mr. Fenwick.
"It sure was," agreed the young inventor. "Rather a hard one, too. I
hope we don't have any more."
"Do you think there is any likelihood of it?" demanded Mr. Damon.
"Bless my pocketbook! If I thought so I'd leave at once."
"Where would you go?" inquired Tom, looking out across the tumbling
ocean, which had hardly had a chance to subside from the gale, ere
it was again set in a turmoil by the earth-tremor.
"That's so--there isn't a place to escape to," went on the eccentric
man, with something like a groan. "We are in a bad place--do you
think there'll be more quakes, Tom?"
"It's hard to say. I don't know where we are, and this island may be
something like Japan, subject to quakes, or it may be that this one
is merely a spasmodic tremor. Perhaps the great storm which brought
us here was part of the disturbance of nature which ended up with
the earthquake. We may have no more."
"And there may be one at any time," added Mr. Fenwick.
"Yes," assented Tom.
"Then let's get ready for it," proposed Mr. Damon. "Let's take all
the precautions possible."
"There aren't any to take," declared Tom. "All we can do is to wait
until the shocks come--if any more do come, which I hope won't
happen, and then we must do the best we can."
"Oh, dear me! Bless my fingernails!" cried Mr. Damon, wringing his
hands. "This is worse than falling in an airship! There you do have
some chance. Here you haven't any."
"Oh, it may not be so bad," Tom cried to reassure him. "This may
have been the first shock in a hundred years, and there may never be
But, as he looked around on the island, he noted evidences that it
was of volcanic origin, and his heart misgave him, for he knew that
such islands, created suddenly by a submarine upheaval, might just
as suddenly be destroyed by an earthquake, or by sinking into the
ocean. It was not a pleasant thought--it was like living over a
mine, that might explode at any moment. But there was no help for
Tom tried to assume a cheerfulness he did not feel. He realized
that, in spite of his youth, both Mr. Damon and Mr. Fenwick rather
depended on him, for Tom was a lad of no ordinary attainments, and
had a fund of scientific knowledge. He resolved to do his best to
avoid making his two companions worry.
"Let's get it off our minds," suggested the lad, after a while. "We
were going to get something to eat. Suppose we carry out that
program. My appetite wasn't spoiled by the shock."
"I declare mine wasn't either," said Mr. Damon, "but I can't forget
it easily. It's the first earthquake I was ever in."
He watched Tom as the latter advanced once more toward the wreck of
the airship, and noticed that the lad limped, for his right leg had
been cut when the Whizzer had fallen to earth.
"What's the matter, Tom; were you hurt in the quake?" asked the
"No--no," Tom hastened to assure him. "I just got a bump in the
fall--that's all. It isn't anything. If you and Mr. Fenwick want to
get out some food from the wrecked store room I'll see if I can haul
out the gasolene stove from the airship. Perhaps we can use it to
make some coffee."
By delving in about the wreck, Tom was able to get out the gasolene
stove. It was broken, but two of the five burners were in
commission, and could be used. Water, and gasolene for use in the
airship, was carried in steel tanks. Some of these had been split
open by the crash, but there was one cask of water left, and three
of gasolene, insuring plenty of the liquid fuel. As for the water,
Tom hoped to be able to find a spring on the island.
In the meanwhile, Mr. Damon and Mr. Fenwick had been investigating
the contents of the storeroom. There was a large supply of food,
much larger than would have been needed, even on a two weeks' trip
in the air, and the inventor of the Whizzer hardly knew why he had
put so much aboard.
"But if we have to stay here long, it may come in handy," observed
Tom, with a grim smile.
"Why; do you think we will be here long?" asked Mr. Damon.
The young inventor shrugged his shoulders.
"There is no telling," he said. "If a passing steamer happens to see
us, we may be taken off to-day or to-morrow. If not we may be here a
week, or--" Tom did not finish. He stood in a listening attitude.
There was a rumbling sound, and the earth seemed again to tremble.
Then there came a great splash in the water at the foot of a tall,
rugged cliff about a quarter of a mile away. A great piece of the
precipice had fallen into the ocean.
"I thought that was another earthquake coming," said Mr. Damon, with
an air of relief.
"So did I," admitted Mr. Fenwick.
"It was probably loosened by the shock, and so fell into the sea,"
Their momentary fright over, the castaways proceeded to get their
breakfast. Tom soon had water boiling on the gasolene stove, for he
had rescued a tea-kettle and a coffee pot from the wreck of the
kitchen of the airship. Shortly afterward, the aroma of coffee
filled the air, and a little later there was mingled with it the
appetizing odor of sizzling bacon and eggs, for Mr. Fenwick, who was
very fond of the latter, had brought along a supply, carefully
packed in sawdust carriers, so that the shock had broken only a few
"Well, I call this a fine breakfast," exclaimed Mr. Damon, munching
his bacon and eggs, and dipping into his coffee the hard pilot
biscuit, which they had instead of bread. "We're mighty lucky to be
eating at all, I suppose."
"Indeed we are," chimed in Mr. Fenwick.
"I'm awfully sorry the airship is wrecked, though," spoke Tom. "I
suppose it's my fault. I should have turned back before we got over
the ocean, and while the storm was not at its height. I saw that the
wind was freshening, but I never supposed it would grow to a gale so
suddenly. The poor old Whizzer--there's not much left of her!"
"Now don't distress yourself in the least," insisted Mr. Fenwick.
"I'm proud to have built a ship that could navigate at all. I see
where I made lots of mistakes, and as soon as I get back to
Philadelphia, I'm going to build a better one, if you'll help me,
"I certainly will," promised the young inventor.
"And I'll take a voyage with you!" cried Mr. Damon. "Bless my
teaspoon, Tom, but will you kindly pass the bacon and eggs again!"
There was a jolly laugh at the eccentric man, in which he himself
joined, and the little party felt better. They were seated on bits
of broken boxes taken from the wreck, forming a little circle about
the gasolene stove, which Tom had set up on the beach. The wind had
almost entirely died away, though the sea was still heaving in great
billows, and masses of surf.
They had no exact idea of the time, for all their watches had
stopped when the shock of the wreck came, but presently the sun
peeped out from the clouds, and, from knowing the time when they had
begun to fall, they judged it was about ten o'clock, and accordingly
set their timepieces.
"Well," observed Tom, as he collected the dishes, which they had
also secured from the wreck, "we must begin to think about a place
to spend the night. I think we can rig up a shelter from some of the
canvas of the wing-planes, and from what is left of the cabin. It
doesn't need to be very heavy, for from the warmth of the
atmosphere, I should say we were pretty well south."
It was quite warm, now that the storm was over, and, as they looked
at the vegetation of the island, they saw that it was almost wholly
"I shouldn't be surprised if we were on one of the smaller of the
West Indian islands," said Tom. "We certainly came far enough,
flying a hundred miles or more an hour, to have reached them. But
this one doesn't appear to be inhabited."
"We haven't been all over it yet," said Mr. Damon. "We may find
cannibals on the other side."
"Cannibals don't live in this part of the world," Tom assured him.
"No, I think this island is practically unknown. The storm brought
us here, and it might have landed us in a worse place."
As he spoke he thought of the yacht Resolute, and he wondered how
her passengers, including the parents of Mary Nestor, had fared
during the terrible blow.
"I hope they weren't wrecked, as we were," mused Tom.
But there was little time for idle thoughts. If they were going to
build a shelter, they knew that they must speedily get at it.
Accordingly, with a feeling of thankfulness that their lives had
been spared, they set to work taking apart such of the wreck as
could the more easily be got at.
Boards, sticks, and planks were scattered about, and, with the
pieces of canvas from the wing-planes, and some spare material which
was carried on board, they soon had a fairly good shack, which would
be protection enough in that warm climate.
Next they got out the food and supplies, their spare clothing and
other belongings, few of which had been harmed in the fall from the
clouds. These things were piled under another rude shelter which
By this time it was three o'clock, and they ate again. Then they
prepared to spend the night in their hastily made camp. They
collected driftwood, with which to make a fire, and, after supper,
which was prepared on the gasolene stove, they sat about the
cheerful blaze, discussing their adventures.
"To-morrow we will explore the island," said Tom, as he rolled
himself up in his blankets and turned over to sleep. The others
followed his example, for it was decided that no watch need be kept.
Thus passed several hours in comparative quiet.
It must have been about midnight that Tom was suddenly awakened by a
feeling as if someone was shaking him. He sat up quickly and called
"What's the matter?"
"Eh? What's that? Bless my soul! What's going on?" shouted Mr.
"Did you shake me?" inquired Tom.
"I? No. What--?"
Then they realized that another earth-tremor was making the whole
Tom leaped from his blankets, followed by Mr. Damon and Mr. Fenwick,
and rushed outside the shack. They felt the earth shaking, but it
was over in a few seconds. The shock was a slight one, nothing like
as severe as the one in the morning. But it set their nerves on
"Another earthquake!" groaned Mr. Damon. "How often are we to have
"I don't know," answered Tom, soberly.
They passed the remainder of the night sleeping in blankets on the
warm sands, near the fire, for they feared lest a shock might bring
the shack down about their heads. However, the night passed with no
Chapter XV The Other Castaways
"Well, we're all alive, at any rate," announced Tom, when the bright
sun, shining into his eyes, had awakened him. He sat up, tossed
aside his blankets, and stood up. The day was a fine one, and the
violence of the sea had greatly subsided during the night, their
shack had suffered not at all from the slight shock in the darkness.
"Now for a dip in old Briney," the lad added, as he walked down to
the surf, "I think it will make me feel better."
"I'm with you," added Mr. Fenwick, and Mr. Damon also joined the
bathers. They came up from the waves, tingling with health, and
their bruises and bumps, including Tom's cut leg, felt much better.
"You did get quite a gash; didn't you," observed Mr. Fenwick, as he
noticed Tom's leg. "Better put something on it. I have antiseptic
dressings and bandages in the airship, if we can find them."
"I'll look for them, after breakfast," Tom promised, and following a
fairly substantial meal, considering the exigencies under which it
was prepared, he got out the medicine chest, of which part remained
in the wreck of the Whizzer, and dressed his wound. He felt much
better after that.
"Well, what's our program for to-day?" Mr. Damon wanted to know, as
they sat about, after they had washed up what few dishes they used.
"Let's make a better house to stay in," proposed Mr. Fenwick. "We
may have to remain here for some time, and I'd like a more
"I think the one we now have will do," suggested Tom. "I was going
to propose making it even less substantial."
"Because, in the event of an earthquake, while we are sleeping in
it, we will not be injured. Made of light pieces of wood and canvas
it can't harm us very much if it falls on us."
"That's right," agreed Mr. Damon. "In earthquake countries all the
houses are low, and built of light materials."
"Ha! So I recollect now," spoke Mr. Fenwick. "I used to read that in
my geography, but I never thought it would apply to me. But do you
think we will be subject to the quakes?"
"I'm afraid so," was Tom's reply. "We've had two, now, within a
short time, and there is no way of telling when the next will come.
We will hope there won't be any more, but--"
He did not finish his sentence, but the others knew what he meant.
Thereupon they fell to work, and soon had made a shelter that, while
very light and frail, would afford them all the protection needed in
that mild climate, and, at the same time, there would be no danger
should an earthquake collapse it, and bring it down about their
heads while they were sleeping in it.
For they decided that they needed some shelter from the night dews,
as it was exceedingly uncomfortable to rest on the sands even
wrapped in blankets, and with a driftwood fire burning nearby.
It was noon when they had their shack rebuilt to their liking, and
they stopped for dinner. There was quite a variety of stores in the
airship, enough for a much larger party than that of our three
friends, and they varied their meals as much as possible. Of course
all the stuff they had was canned, though there are some salted and
smoked meats. But canned food can be had in a variety of forms
now-a-days, so the castaways did not lack much.
"What do you say to an exploring expedition this afternoon?" asked
Tom, as they sat about after dinner. "We ought to find out what kind
of an island we're on."
"I agree with you," came from Mr. Fenwick. "Perhaps on the other
side we will stand a much better chance of speaking some passing
vessel. I have been watching the horizon for some time, now, but I
haven't seen the sign of a ship."
"All right, then we'll explore, and see what sort of an island we
have taken possession of," went on Tom.
"And see if it isn't already in possession of natives--or
cannibals," suggested Mr. Damon. "Bless my frying pan! but I should
hate to be captured by cannibals at my time of life."
"Don't worry; there are none here," Tom assured him again.
They set out on their journey around the island. They agreed that it
would be best to follow the beach around, as it was easier walking
that way, since the interior of the place consisted of rugged rocks
in a sort of miniature mountain chain.
"We will make a circuit of the place," proposed Tom, "and then, if
we can discover nothing, we'll go inland. The centre of the island
is quite high, and we ought to be able to see in any direction for a
great distance from the topmost peak. We may be able to signal a
"I hope so!" cried Mr. Damon. "I want to send word home that I am
all right. My wife will worry when she learns that the airship, in
which I set out, has disappeared."
"I fancy we all would like to send word home," added Mr. Fenwick.
"My wife never wanted me to build this airship, and, now that I have
sailed in it, and have been wrecked, I know she'll say 'I told you
so,' as soon as I get back to Philadelphia."
Tom said nothing, but he thought to himself that it might be some
time before Mrs. Fenwick would have a chance to utter those
significant words to her husband.
Following the beach line, they walked for several miles. The island
was larger than they had supposed, and it soon became evident that
it would take at least a day to get all around it.
"In which case we will need some lunch with us." said Tom. "I think
the best thing we can do now is to return to camp, and get ready for
a longer expedition to-morrow."
Mr. Fenwick was of the same mind, but Mr. Damon called out:
"Let's go just beyond that cliff, and see what sort of a view is to
be had from there. Then we'll turn back."
To oblige him they followed. They had not gone more than a hundred
yards toward the cliff, than there came the preliminary rumbling and
roaring that they had come to associate with an earthquake. At the
same time, the ground began to shiver and shake.
"Here comes another one!" cried Tom, reeling about. He saw Mr. Damon
and Mr. Fenwick topple to the beach. The roaring increased, and the
rumbling was like thunder, close at hand. The island seemed to rock
to its very centre.
Suddenly the whole cliff toward which they had been walking,
appeared to shake itself loose. In another instant it was flung
outward and into the sea, a great mass of rock and stone.
The island ceased trembling, and the roaring stopped. Tom rose to
his feet, followed by his companions. He looked toward the place
where the cliff had been. Its removal by the earthquake gave them a
view of a part of the beach that had hitherto been hidden from them.
And what Tom saw caused him to cry out in astonishment. For he
beheld, gathered around a little fire on the sand, a party of men
and women. Some were standing, clinging to one another in terror.
Some were prostrate on the ground. Others were running to and fro in
"More castaways!" cried Tom. "More castaways," and, he added under
his breath, "more unfortunates on earthquake island!"
Chapter XVI An Alarming Theory
For a few seconds, following Tom's announcement to his two
companions, neither Mr. Damon nor Mr. Fenwick spoke. They had arisen
from the beach, where the shock of the earthquake had thrown them,
and were now staring toward the other band of castaways, who, in
turn were gazing toward our three friends. There was a violent
agitation in the sea, caused by the fall of the great cliff, and
immense waves rushed up on shore, but all the islanders were beyond
the reach of the rollers.
"Is it--do I really--am I dreaming or not?" at length gasped Mr.
"Is this a mirage, or do we really see people, Tom?" inquired Mr.
"They are real enough people," replied the lad, himself somewhat
dazed by the unexpected appearance of the other castaways.
"But how--why--how did they get here?" went on the inventor of the
"As long as they're not cannibals, we're all right," murmured Mr.
Damon. "They seem to be persons like ourselves, Tom."
"They are," agreed the lad, "and they appear to be in the same sort
of trouble as ourselves. Let's go forward, and meet them."
The tremor of the earthquake had now subsided, and the little band
that was gathered about a big fire of driftwood was calmer. Those
who had fallen, or who had thrown themselves on the sand, arose, and
began feeling of their arms and legs to see if they had sustained
any injuries. Others advanced toward our friends.
"Nine of them," murmured Tom, as he counted the little band of
castaways, "and they don't seem to have been able to save much from
the wreck of their craft, whatever it was." The beach all about them
was bare, save for a boat drawn up out of reach of high water.
"Do you suppose they are a party from some disabled airship, Tom,"
asked Mr. Fenwick.
"Not from an airship," answered the lad. "Probably from some vessel
that was wrecked in the gale. But we will soon find out who they
Tom led the way for his two friends. The fall of the cliff had made
a rugged path around the base of it, over rocks, to where the other
people stood. Tom scrambled in and out among the boulders, in spite
of the pain it caused his wounded leg. He was anxious to know who
the other castaways were, and how they had come there.
Several of the larger party were now advancing to meet the lad and
his friends. Tom could see two women and seven men.
A moment later, when the lad had a good view of one of the ladies
and a gentleman, he could not repress a cry of astonishment. Then he
rubbed his eyes to make sure it was not some blur or defect of
vision. No, his first impression had been correct.
"Mr. Nestor!" cried Tom, recognizing the father of his girl friend.
"And Mrs. Nestor!" he added a moment later.
"Why--of all things--look--Amos--it's--it can't be possible--and
yet--why, it's Tom Swift!" cried the lady.
"Tom--Tom Swift--here?" ejaculated the man at her side.
"Yes--Tom Swift--the young inventor--of Shopton--don't you know--the
lad who saved Mary's life in the runaway--Tom Swift!"
"Tom Swift!" murmured Mr. Nestor. "Is it possible!"
"I'm Tom Swift, all right," answered the owner of that name, "but
how in the world did you get on this island, Mr. Nestor?"
"I might ask you the same thing, Tom. The yacht Resolute, on which
we were making a voyage to the West Indies, as guests of Mr. George
Hosbrook, was wrecked in the awful gale. We took to the boats and
managed to reach this island. The yacht sunk, and we only had a
little food. We are almost starved! But how came you here?"
"Mr. Fenwick's airship was wrecked, and we dropped down here. What a
coincidence! To think that I should meet you here! But if you're
hungry, it's the best thing in the world that we met you, for,
though our airship was wrecked, we have a large supply of food. Come
over to our camp, and we'll give you all you want!"
Tom had rushed forward, and was shaking hands with Mary's parents,
so unexpectedly met with, when Mr. Nestor called out:
"Come over here, Mr. Hosbrook. I want you to meet a friend of mine."
A moment later, the millionaire owner of the ill-fated Resolute was
shaking hands with Tom.
"I can't understand it," Mr. Hosbrook said. "To think of meeting
other people on this desolate island--this island of earthquakes."
"Oh, please don't speak of earthquakes!" cried Mrs. Nestor. "We are
in mortal terror! There have been several since we landed in the
most terrible storm day before yesterday. Isn't it awful! It is a
regular earthquake island!"
"That's what I call it," spoke Tom, grimly.
The others of the larger party of refugees now came up. Besides Mr.
and Mrs. Nestor, and Mr. Hosbrook, there was Mr. and Mrs. Floyd
Anderson, friends of the millionaire; Mr. Ralph Parker, who was
spoken of as a scientist, Mr. Barcoe Jenks, who seemed an odd sort
of individual, always looking about suspiciously, Captain Mentor,
who had been in command of the yacht, and Jake Fordam, the mate of
"And are these all who were saved?" asked Tom, as he introduced his
two friends, and told briefly of their air voyage.
"No," answered Mr. Hosbrook, "two other boatloads, one containing
most of the crew, and the other containing some of my guests, got
away before our boat left. I trust they have been rescued, but we
have heard nothing about them. However, our own lives may not long
be safe, if these earthquakes continue."
"But did I understand you to say, Mr. Swift, that you had food?" he
went on. "If you have, I will gladly pay you any price for some,
especially for these two ladies, who must be faint. I have lost all
my ready cash, but if we ever reach civilization, I will--"
"Don't speak of such a thing as pay," interrupted Mr. Fenwick. "All
that we have we'll gladly share with you. Come over to our camp. We
have enough for all, and we can cook on our gasolene stove. Don't
speak of pay, I beg of you."
"Ah--er, if Mr. Hosbrook has no money, perhaps I can offer an
equivalent," broke in the man who had been introduced as Barcoe
Jenks. "I have--er--some securities--" He stopped and looked about
indefinitely, as though he did not know exactly what to say, and he
was fumbling at a belt about his waist; a belt that might contain
"Don't speak of reimbursing us," went on Mr. Fenwick, with rather a
suspicious glance at Mr. Jenks. "You are welcome to whatever we
"Bless my topknot; certainly, yes!" joined in Mr. Damon, eagerly.
"Well, I--er--I only spoke of it," said Mr. Jenks, hesitatingly, and
then he turned away. Mr. Hosbrook looked sharply at him, but said
"Suppose we go to our camp," proposed Tom. "We may be able to get
you up a good meal, before another earthquake comes."
"I wonder what makes so many of them?" asked Mrs. Nestor, with a
"Yes, indeed, they are terrifying! One never knows when to expect
them," added Mrs. Anderson.
"I have a theory about them," said Mr. Parker, the scientist, who,
up to this time had spoken but little.
"A theory?" inquired Tom.
"Yes. This island is one of the smaller of the West Indies group. It
is little known, and has seldom been visited, I believe. But I am
sure that what causes the earthquakes is that the whole island has
been undermined by the sea, and it is the wash of great submarine
waves and currents which cause the tremors."
"Undermined by the sea?" repeated Tom.
"Yes. It is being slowly washed away."
"Bless my soul! Washed away!" gasped Mr. Damon.
"And, in the course of a comparatively short time, it will sink,"
went on the scientist, as cheerfully as though he was a professor
propounding some problem to his class.
"Sink!" ejaculated Mrs. Nestor. "The whole island undermined! Oh,
what an alarming theory!"
"I wish I could hold to a different one, madam," was Mr. Parker's
answer, "but I cannot. I think the island will sink after a few more
"Then what good will my--" began Barcoe Jenks, but he stopped in
confusion, and again his hand went to his belt with a queer gesture.
Chapter XVII A Mighty Shock
Tom Swift turned to gaze at Mr. Barcoe Jenks. That individual
certainly had a strange manner. Perhaps it might be caused by the
terror of the earthquakes, but the man seemed to be trying to hold
back some secret. He was constrained and ill at ease. He saw the
young inventor looking at him, and his hands, which had gone to his
belt, with a spasmodic motion, dropped to his side.
"You don't really mean to say, Parker, that you think the whole
island is undermined, do you?" asked the owner of the Resolute.
"That's my theory. It may be a wrong one, but it is borne out by the
facts already presented to us. I greatly fear for our lives!"
"But what can we do?" cried Mrs. Nestor.
"Nothing," answered the scientist, with a shrug of his shoulders.
"Absolutely nothing, save to wait for it to happen."
"Don't say that!" begged Mrs. Andersen.
"Can't you gentlemen do something--build a boat and take us away.
Why, the boat we came here in--"
"Struck a rock, and stove a hole in the bottom as big as a barrel,
madam," interrupted Captain Mentor. "It would never do to put to sea
"But can't something else be done?" demanded Mrs. Nestor. "Oh, it is
awful to think of perishing on this terrible earthquake island. Oh,
Amos! Think of it, and Mary home alone! Have you seen her lately,
Tom told of his visit to the Nestors' home. Our hero was almost in
despair, not so much for himself, as for the unfortunate women of
the party--and one of them was Mary's mother! Yet what could he do?
What chance was there of escaping from the earthquake?
"Bless my gizzard!" exclaimed Mr. Damon. "Don't let's stand here
worrying! If you folks are hungry come up to our camp. We have
plenty. Afterward we can discuss means of saving ourselves."
"I want to be saved!" exclaimed Mr. Jenks. "I must be saved! I have
a great secret--a secret--"
Once more he paused in confusion, and once more his hands nervously
sought his belt.
"I would give a big reward to be saved," he murmured.
"And so, I fancy, we all would," added Captain Mentor. "But we are
not likely to. This island is out of the track of the regular line
"Where are we, anyhow?" inquired Mr. Fenwick. "What island is this?"
"It isn't down on the charts, I believe," was the captain's reply,
"but we won't be far out, if we call it Earthquake Island. That name
seems to fit it exactly."
They had walked on, while talking, and now had gone past the broken
cliff. Tom and his two friends of the airship led the way to the
camp they had made. On the way, Mr. Hosbrook related how his yacht
had struggled in vain against the tempest, how she had sprung a
leak, how the fires had gone out, and how, helpless in the trough of
the sea, the gallant vessel began to founder. Then they had taken to
the boats, and had, most unexpectedly come upon the island.
"And since we landed we have had very little to eat," said Mrs.
Nestor. "We haven't had a place to sleep, and it has been terrible.
Then, too, the earthquakes! And my husband and I worried so about
Mary. Oh, Mr. Swift! Do you think there is any chance of us ever
seeing her again?"
"I don't know," answered Tom, softly. "I'll do all I can to get us
off this island. Perhaps we can build a raft, and set out. If we
stay here there is no telling what will happen, if that scientist's
theory is correct. But there is our camp, just ahead. You will be
more comfortable, at least for a little while."
In a short time they were at the place where Tom and the others had
built the shack. The ruins of the airship were examined with
interest, and the two women took advantage of the seclusion of the
little hut, to get some much needed rest until a meal should be
One was soon in course of preparation by Tom and Mr. Damon, aided by
Mate Fordam, of the Resolute. Fortunate it was that Mr. Fenwick had
brought along such a supply of food, for there were now many mouths
That the supper (which the meal really was, for it was getting late)
was much enjoyed, goes without saying. The yacht castaways had
subsisted on what little food had been hurriedly put into the life
boat, as they left the vessel.
At Tom's request, while it was yet light, Captain Mentor and some of
the men hunted for a spring of fresh water, and found one, for, with
the increase in the party, the young inventor saw the necessity for
more water. The spring gave promise of supplying a sufficient
There was plenty of material at hand for making other shacks, and
they were soon in course of construction. They were made light, as
was the one Tom and his friends first built, so that, in case of
another shock, no one would be hurt seriously. The two ladies were
given the larger shack, and the men divided themselves between two
others that were hastily erected on the beach. The remainder of the
food and stores was taken from the wreck of the airship, and when
darkness began to fall, the camp was snug and comfortable, a big
fire of driftwood burning brightly.
"Oh, if only we can sleep without being awakened by an earthquake!"
exclaimed Mrs. Nestor, as she prepared to go into the shack with
Mrs. Anderson. "But I am almost afraid to close my eyes!"
"If it would do any good to stay up and watch, to tell you when one
was coming, I'd do so," spoke Tom, with a laugh, "but they come
However, the night did pass peacefully, and there was not the least
tremor of the island. In the morning the castaways took courage and,
after breakfast, began discussing their situation more calmly.
"It seems to me that the only solution is to build some sort of a
raft, or other craft and leave the island," said Mr. Fenwick.
"Bless my hair brush!" cried Mr. Damon. "Why can't we hoist a signal
of distress, and wait for some steamer to see it and call for us? It
seems to me that would be more simple than going to sea on a raft. I
don't like the idea."
"A signal would be all right, if this island was in the path of the
steamers," said Captain Mentor. "But it isn't. Our flag might fly
for a year, and never be seen."
His words seemed to strike coldness to every heart. Tom, who was
looking at the wreck of the airship, suddenly uttered an
exclamation. He sprang to his feet.
"What is it?" demanded Mr. Fenwick. "Does your sore leg hurt you?"
"No, but I have just thought of a plan!" fairly shouted the young
inventor. "I have it! Wait and see if I can work it!"
"Work what?" cried Mr. Damon.
Tom did not get a chance to answer, for, at that moment, there
sounded, at the far end of the island, whence the yacht castaways
had come, a terrific crash. It was accompanied, rather than
followed, by a shaking, trembling and swaying of the ground.
"Another earthquake!" screamed Mrs. Nestor, rushing toward her
husband. The castaways gazed at each other affrighted.
Suddenly, before their eyes, they saw the extreme end of that part
of the island on which they were camping, slip off, and beneath the
foaming waves of the sea, while the echoes of the mighty crash came
to their ears!
Chapter XVIII Mr. Jenks Has Diamonds
Stunned, and well-nigh paralyzed by the suddenness of the awful
crash, and the recurrence of the earthquake, the castaways gazed
spell-bound at one another.
Succeeding the disappearance of the end of the island there arose a
great wave in the ocean, caused by the immersion of such a quantity
of rock and dirt.
"Look out!" yelled Tom, "there may be a flood here!"
They realized his meaning, and hastened up the beach, out of reach
of the water if it should come. And it did. At first the ocean
retreated, as though the tide was going out, then, with a rush and
roar, the waves came leaping back, and, had the castaways remained
where they had been standing they would have been swept cut to sea.
As it was the flood reached part of the wreck of the airship, that
lay on the beach, and washed away some of the broken planks. But,
after the first rush of water, the sea grew less troubled, and there
was no more danger from that source.
True, the whole island was rumbling and trembling in the throes of
an earthquake, but, by this time, the refugees had become somewhat
used to this, and only the two ladies exhibited any outward signs of
great alarm, though Mr. Barcoe Jenks, Tom observed, was nervously
fingering the belt which he wore about his waist.
"I guess the worst is over," spoke Mr. Fenwick, as they stood
looking toward where part of the island had vanished. "The shock
expended itself on tearing that mass of rock and earth away."
"Let us hope so," added Mr. Hosbrook, solemnly. "Oh, if we could
only get away from this terrible place! We must hoist a signal of
distress, even if we are out of the track of regular vessels. Some
ship, blown out of her course may see it. Captain Mentor, I wish you
and Mr. Fordam would attend to that."
"I will, sir," answered the commander of the ill-fated Resolute.
"The signal shall be hoisted at once. Come on, Mr. Fordam," he
added, turning to the first mate.
"If you don't mind," interrupted Tom, "I wish you would first help
me to get what remains of the airship up out of reach of any more
possible high waves. That one nearly covered it, and if there are
other big rollers, the wreck may be washed out to sea."
"I can't see that any great harm would result from that," put in Mr.
Jenks. "There isn't anything about the wreck that we could use to
make a boat or raft from." Indeed, there was little left of the
airship, save the mass of machinery.
"Well, it may come in handy before we leave here," said Tom, and
there was a quiet determined air about him, that caused Mr. Damon to
look at him curiously. The odd gentleman started to utter one of his
numerous blessings, and to ask Tom a question, but he thought better
of it. By this time the earthquake had ceased, and the castaways
Tom started toward the airship wreck, and began pulling off some
broken boards to get at the electrical machinery.
"I guess you had better give Mr. Swift a hand, Captain Mentor,"
spoke the millionaire yacht owner. "I don't know what good the wreck
can be, but we owe considerable to Mr. Swift and his friends, and
the least we can do is to aid them in anything they ask. So,
Captain, if you don't mind, you and the mate bear a hand. In fact,
we'll all help, and move the wreck so far up that there will be no
danger, even from tidal waves."
Tom looked pleased at this order, and soon he and all the men in the
little party were busy taking out the electrical apparatus, and
moving it farther inland.
"What are you going to do with it, Tom?" asked Mr. Damon, in a low
voice, as he assisted the young inventor to carry a small dynamo,
that was used for operating the incandescent lights.
"I hardly know myself. I have a half-formed plan in my mind. I may
be able to carry it out, and I may not. I don't want to say anything
until I look over the machinery, and see if all the parts which I
need are here. Please say nothing about it."
"Bless my toothpick! Of course, I'll not," promised Mr. Damon.
When the removal of most of the machinery of the wrecked airship had
been completed, Mrs. Nestor exclaimed:
"Well, since you are moving that out of harm's way, don't you think
it would be a good idea to change our camp, also? I'm sure I'll
never sleep a wink, thinking that part of the island may fall into
the ocean at any moment in the night, and create a wave that may
wash us all out to sea. Can't we move the camp, Mr. Swift?"
"No reason why we can't," answered the lad, smiling. "I think it
would be a good plan to take it farther back. We are likely to be
here some time, and, while we are about it, we might build more
complete shelters, and have a few more comforts."
The others agreed with this idea, so the little shacks that had been
erected were taken down, and moved to higher ground, where a better
outlook could be had of the surrounding ocean. At the same time as
safe a place as possible, considering the frequent earthquakes, was
picked out--a place where there were no overhanging rocks or cliffs.
Three huts were built, one for the two ladies, one for the men, and
third where the cooking could be done. This last also held the food
supplies and stores, and Tom noted, with satisfaction, that there
was still sufficient to eat to last over a week. Mr. Fenwick had not
stinted his kitchen stores.
This work done, Captain Mentor and Mate Fordam went to the highest
part of the island, where they erected a signal, made from pieces of
canvas that had been in the life boat. The boat itself was brought
around to the new camp, and at first it was hoped that it could be
repaired, and used. But too large a hole had been stove in the
bottom, so it was broken up, and the planks used in making the
This work occupied the better part of two days, and during this
time, there were no more earthquakes. The castaways began to hope
that the island would not be quiet for a while. Mrs. Anderson and
Mrs. Nestor assumed charge of the "housekeeping" arrangements, and
also the cooking, which relieved Tom from those duties. The two
ladies even instituted "wash-day," and when a number of garments
were hung on lines to dry, the camp looked like some summer colony
of pleasure-seekers, out for a holiday.
In the meanwhile, Tom had spent most of his time among the machinery
which had been taken from the airship. He inspected it carefully,
tested some of the apparatus, and made some calculations on a bit of
paper. He seemed greatly pleased over something, and one afternoon,
when he was removing some of the guy and stay wires from the
collapsed frame of the Whizzer, he was approached by Mr. Barcoe
"Planning something new?" asked Mr. Jenks, with an attempt at
jollity, which, however, failed. The man had a curious air about
him, as if he was carrying some secret that was too much for him.
"Well, nothing exactly new," answered Tom. "At best I am merely
going to try an experiment."
"An experiment, eh?" resumed Mr. Jenks, "And might I ask if it has
anything to do with rescuing us from this island?"
"I hope it will have," answered Tom, gravely.
"Good!" exclaimed Mr. Jenks. "Well, now I have a proposition to make
to you. I suppose you are not very wealthy, Mr. Swift?" He gazed at
"I am not poor," was the young inventor's proud answer, "but I would
be glad to make more money--legitimately."
"I thought so. Most every one would. Look here!"
He approached closer to Tom, and, pulling his hand from his pocket,
held it extended, in the palm were a number of irregularly-shaped
objects--stones or crystals the lad took them to be, yet they did
not look like ordinary stones or crystals.
"Do you know what those are?" asked Mr. Jenks.
"I might guess," replied Tom.
"I'll save you the trouble. They are diamonds! Diamonds of the very
first water, but uncut. Now to the point. I have half a million
dollars worth of them. If you get me safely off this island, I will
agree to make you a quarter of a million dollars worth of diamonds!"
"Make me a quarter of a million dollars worth of diamonds?" asked
Tom, struck by the use of the work "make."
"Yes, 'make,'" answered Mr. Jenks. "That is if I can discover the
secret--the secret of Phantom Mountain. Get me away from the island
and I will share my knowledge with you--I need help--help to learn
the secret and help to make the diamonds--see, there are some of the
first ones made, but I have been defrauded of my rights--I need the
aid of a young fellow like you. Will you help? See, I'll give you
some diamonds now. They are genuine, though they are not like
ordinary diamonds. I made them. Will you--"
Before Tom could answer, there came a warning rumble of the earth,
and a great fissure opened, almost at the feet of Mr. Jenks, who,
with a cry of fear, leaped toward the young inventor.
Chapter XIX Secret Operations
"Help me save this machinery!" yelled Tom, whose first thought was
for the electrical apparatus. "Don't let it fall into that chasm!"
For the crack had widened, until it was almost to the place where
the parts of the wrecked airship had been carried.
"The machinery? What do I care about the machinery?" cried Mr.
Jenks. "I want to save my life!"
"And this machinery is our only hope!" retorted Tom. He began
tugging at the heavy dynamos and gasolene engine, but he might have
saved himself the trouble, for with the same suddenness with which
it opened, the crack closed again. The shock had done it, and, as if
satisfied with that phenomena, the earthquake ceased, and the island
no longer trembled.
"That was a light one," spoke Tom, with an air of relief. He was
becoming used to the shocks now, and, when he saw that his precious
machinery was not damaged he could view the earth tremors calmly.
"Slight!" exclaimed Mr. Jenks. "Well, I don't call it so. But I see
Captain Mentor and Mr. Hosbrook coming. Please don't say anything to
them about the diamonds. I'll see you again," and with that, the
queer Mr. Jenks walked away.
"We came to see if you were hurt," called the captain, as he neared
the young inventor.
"No, I'm all right. How about the others?"
"Only frightened," replied the yacht owner. "This is getting awful.
I hoped we were free from the shocks, but they still continue."
"And I guess they will," added Tom. "We certainly are on Earthquake
"Mr. Parker, the scientist, says this last shock bears out his
theory," went on the millionaire. "He says it will be only a
question of a few days when the whole island will disappear."
"Comforting, to say the least," commented Tom.
"I should say so. But what are you doing, Mr. Swift?"
"Trying an experiment," answered the young inventor, in some
confusion. He was not yet ready to talk about his plans.
"We must begin to think seriously of building some sort of a boat or
raft, and getting away from the island," went on the millionaire.
"It will be perilous to go to sea with anything we can construct,
but it is risking our lives to stay here. I don't know what to do."
"Perhaps Captain Mentor has some plan," suggested Tom, hoping to
change the subject.
"No," answered the commander, "I confess I am at a loss to know what
to do. There is nothing with which to do anything, that is the
trouble! But I did think of hoisting another signal, on this end of
the island, where it might be seen if our first one wasn't. I
believe I'll do that," and he moved away, to carry out his
"Well, I think I'll get back, Tom, and tell the others that you are
all right," spoke Mr. Hosbrook. "I left the camp, after the shock,
because Mrs. Nestor was worried about you." The place to which the
airship machinery had been removed was some distance from the camp,
and out of sight of the shacks.
"Oh, yes. I'm all right," said Tom. Then, with a sudden impulse, he
"Do you know much about this Mr. Barcoe Jenks, Mr. Hosbrook?"
"Not a great deal," was the reply. "In fact, I may say I do not know
him at all. Why do you ask?"
"Because I thought he acted rather strangely."
"Just what the rest of us think," declared the yacht owner. "He is
no friend of mine, though he was my guest on the Resolute. It came
about in this way. I had invited a Mr. Frank Jackson to make the
trip with me, and he asked if he could bring with him a Mr. Jenks, a
friend of his. I assented, and Mr. Jackson came aboard with Mr.
Jenks. Just as we were about to sail Mr. Jackson received a message
requiring his presence in Canada, and he could not make the trip."
"But Mr. Jenks seemed so cut-up about being deprived of the yachting
trip, and was so fond of the water, that I invited him to remain on
board, even if his friend did not. So that is how he came to be
among my guests, though he is a comparative stranger to all of us."
"I see," spoke Tom.
"Has he been acting unusually strange?" asked Mr. Hosbrook
"No, only he seemed very anxious to get off the island, but I
suppose we all are. He wanted to know what I planned to do."
"Did you tell him?"
"No, for the reason that I don't know whether I can succeed or not,
and I don't want to raise false hopes."
"Then you would prefer not to tell any of us?"
"No one--that is except Mr. Fenwick and Mr. Damon. I may need them
to help me."
"I see," responded Mr. Hosbrook. "Well, whatever it is, I wish you
luck. It is certainly a fearful place--this island," and busy with
many thoughts, which crowded upon him, the millionaire moved away,
leaving Tom alone.
A little while after this Tom might have been seen in close
conversation with Mr. Damon and Mr. Fenwick. The former, on hearing
what the young inventor had to say, blessed himself and his various
possessions so often, that he seemed to have gotten out of breath.
Mr. Fenwick exclaimed:
"Tom, if you can work that it will be one of the greatest things you
have ever done!"
"I hope I can work it," was all the young inventor replied.
For the next three days Tom, and his two friends, spent most of
their time in the neighborhood of the pile of machinery and
apparatus taken from the wrecked Whizzer. Mr. Jenks hung around the
spot, but a word or two from Mr. Hosbrook sent him away, and our
three friends were left to their work in peace, for they were
inclined to be secretive about their operations, as Tom did not want
his plans known until he was ready.
The gasolene motor was overhauled, and put in shape to work. Then it
was attached to the dynamo. When this much had been done, Tom and
his friends built a rude shack around the machinery shutting it from
"Humph! Are you afraid we will steal it?" asked Mr. Parker, the
scientist, who held to his alarming theory regarding the ultimate
disappearance of the island.
"No, I simply want to protect it from the weather," answered Tom.
"You will soon know all our plans. I think they will work out."
"You'd better do it before we get another earthquake, and the island
sinks," was the dismal response.
But there had been no shocks since the one that nearly engulfed Mr.
Jenks. As for that individual he said little to any one, and
wandered off alone by himself. Tom wondered what kind of diamonds
they were that the odd man had, and the lad even had his doubts as
to the value of the queer stones he had seen. But he was too busy
with his work to waste much time in idle speculation.
Chapter XX The Wireless Plant
The castaways had been on Earthquake Island a week now, and in that
time had suffered many shocks. Some were mere tremors, and some were
so severe as to throw whole portions of the isle into the sea. They
never could tell when a shock was coming, and often one awakened
them in the night.
But, in spite of this, the refugees were as cheerful as it was
possible to be under the circumstances. Only Mr. Jenks seemed
nervous and ill at ease, and he kept much by himself.
As for Tom, Mr. Damon and Mr. Fenwick, the three were busy in their
shack. The others had ceased to ask questions about what they were
doing, and Mr. Nestor and his wife took it for granted that Tom was
building a boat.
Captain Mentor and the mate spent much time gazing off to sea,
hoping for a sight of the sail of some vessel, or the haze that
would indicate the smoke of a steamer. But they saw nothing.
"I haven't much hope of sighting anything," the captain said. "I
know we are off the track of the regular liners, and our only chance
would be that some tramp steamer, or some ship blown off her course,
would see our signal. I tell you, friends, we're in a bad way."
"If money was any object--," began Mr. Jenks.
"What good would money be?" demanded Mr. Hosbrook. "What we need to
do is to get a message to some one--some of my friends--to send out
a party to rescue us."
"That's right," chimed in Mr. Parker, the scientist. "And the
message needs to go off soon, if we are to be saved."
"Why so?" asked Mr. Anderson.
"Because I think this island will sink inside of a week!"
A scream came from the two ladies.
"Why don't you keep such thoughts to yourself?" demanded the
millionaire yacht owner, indignantly.
"Well, it's true," stubbornly insisted the scientist.
"What if it is? It doesn't do any good to remind us of it."
"Bless my gizzard, no!" exclaimed Mr. Damon. "Suppose we have
dinner. I'm hungry."
That seemed to be his remedy for a number of ills.
"If we only could get a message off, summoning help, it would be the
very thing," sighed Mrs. Nestor. "Oh, how I wish I could send my
daughter, Mary, word of where we are. She may hear of the wreck of
the Resolute, and worry herself to death."
"But it is out of the question to send a message for help from
Earthquake Island," added Mrs. Anderson. "We are totally cut off
from the rest of the world here."
"Perhaps not," spoke Tom Swift, quietly. He had come up silently,
and had heard the conversation.
"What's that you said?" cried Mr. Nestor, springing to his feet, and
crossing the sandy beach toward the lad.
"I said perhaps we weren't altogether cut off from the rest of the
world," repeated Tom.
"Why not," demanded Captain Mentor. "You don't mean to say that you
have been building a boat up there in your little shack, do you?"
"Not a boat," replied Tom, "but I think I have a means of sending
out a call for help!"
"Oh, Tom--Mr. Swift--how?" exclaimed Mrs. Nestor. "Do you mean we
can send a message to my Mary?"
"Well, not exactly to her," answered the young inventor, though he
wished that such a thing were possible. "But I think I can summon
"How?" demanded Mr. Hosbrook. "Have you managed to discover some
cable line running past the island, and have you tapped it?"
"Not exactly." was Tom's calm answer, "but I have succeeded, with
the help of Mr. Damon and Mr. Fenwick, in building an apparatus that
will send out wireless messages!"
"Wireless messages!" gasped the millionaire. "Are you sure?"
"Wireless messages!" exclaimed Mr. Jenks. "I'll give--" He paused,
clasped his hands on his belt, and turned away.
"Oh, Tom!" cried Mrs. Nestor, and she went up to the lad, threw her
arms about his neck, and kissed him; whereat Tom blushed.
"Perhaps you'd better explain," suggested Mr. Anderson.
"I will," said the lad. "That is the secret we have been engaged
upon--Mr. Damon, Mr. Fenwick and myself. We did not want to say
anything about it until we were sure we could succeed."
"And are you sure now?" asked Captain Mentor.
"How could you build a wireless station?" inquired Mr. Hosbrook.
"From the electrical machinery that was in the wrecked Whizzer,"
spoke Tom. "Fortunately, that was not damaged by the shock of the
fall, and I have managed to set up the gasolene engine, and attach
the dynamo to it so that we can generate a powerful current. We also
have a fairly good storage battery, though that was slightly damaged
by the fall."
"I have just tested the machinery, and I think we can send out a
strong enough message to carry at least a thousand miles."
"Then that will reach some station, or some passing ship," murmured
Captain Mentor. "There is a chance that we may be saved."
"If it isn't too late," gloomily murmured the scientist. "There is
no telling when the island will disappear beneath the sea."
But they were all so interested in Tom's announcement that they paid
little attention to this dire foreboding.
"Tell us about it," suggested Mr. Nestor. And Tom did.
He related how he had set up the dynamo and gasolene engine, and
how, by means of the proper coils and other electrical apparatus,
all of which, fortunately, was aboard the Whizzer, he could produce
a powerful spark.
"I had to make a key out of strips of brass, to produce the Morse
characters," the lad said. "This took considerable time, but it
works, though it is rather crude. I can click out a message with
"That may be," said Mr. Hosbrook, who had been considering
installing a wireless plant on his yacht, and who, therefore, knew
something about it, "you may send a message, but can you receive an
"I have also provided for that," replied Tom. "I have made a
receiving instrument, though that is even more crude than the
sending plant, for it had to be delicately adjusted, and I did not
have just the magnets, carbons, coherers and needles that I needed.
But I think it will work."
"Did you have a telephone receiver to use?"
"Yes. There was a small interior telephone arrangement on Mr.
Fenwick's airship, and part of that came in handy. Oh, I think I can
hear any messages that may come in answer to ours."
"But what about the aerial wires for sending and receiving
messages?" asked Mr. Nestor.
"Don't you have to have several wires on a tall mast?"
"Yes, and that is the last thing to do," declared Tom. "I need all
your help in putting up those wires. That tall tree on the crest of
the island will do," and he pointed to a dead palm that towered
gaunt and bare like a ship's mast, on a pile of rocks in the centre
of Earthquake Island.
Chapter XXI Messages Into Space
Tom Swift's announcement of the practical completion of his wireless
plant brought hope to the discouraged hearts of the castaways. They
crowded about him, and asked all manner of questions.
Mr. Fenwick and Mr. Damon came in for their share of attention, for
Tom said had it not been for the aid of his friends he never could
have accomplished what he did. Then they all trooped up to the
little shack, and inspected the plant.
As the young inventor had said, it was necessarily crude, but when
he set the gasolene motor going, and the dynamo whizzed and hummed,
sending out great, violet-hued sparks, they were all convinced that
the young inventor had accomplished wonders, considering the
materials at his disposal.
"But it's going to be no easy task to rig up the sending and
receiving wires," declared Tom. "That will take some time."
"Have you got the wire?" asked Mr. Jenks.
"I took it from the stays of the airship," was Tom's reply, and he
recalled the day he was at that work, when the odd man had exhibited
the handful of what he said were diamonds. Tom wondered if they
really were, and he speculated as to what might be the secret of
Phantom Mountain, to which Mr. Jenks had referred.
But now followed a busy time for all. Under the direction of the
young inventor, they began to string the wires from the top of the
dead tree, to a smaller one, some distance away, using five wires,
set parallel, and attached to a wooden spreader, or stay. The wires
were then run to the dynamo, and the receiving coil, and the
necessary ground wires were installed.
"But I can't understand how you are going to do it," said Mrs.
Nestor. "I've read about wireless messages, but I can't get it
through my head. How is it done, Mr. Swift?"
"The theory is very simple," said the young inventor. "To send a
message by wire, over a telegraph system, a battery or dynamo is
used. This establishes a current over wires stretched between two
points. By means of what is called a 'key' this current is
interrupted, or broken, at certain intervals, making the sounding
instrument send out clicks. A short click is called a dot, and a
long click a dash. By combinations of dots, dashes, and spaces
between the dots and dashes, letters are spelled out. For instance,
a dot and a space and a dash, represent the letter 'A' and so on."
"I understand so far," admitted Mrs. Nestor.
"In telegraphing without wires," went on Tom, "the air is used in
place of a metallic conductor, with the help of the earth, which in
itself is a big magnet, or a battery, as you choose to regard it.
The earth helps to establish the connection between places where
there are no wires, when we 'ground' certain conductors."
"To send a wireless message a current is generated by a dynamo. The
current flows along until it gets to the ends of the sending wires,
which we have just strung. Then it leaps off into space, so to
speak, until it reaches the receiving wires, wherever they may be
erected. That is why any wireless receiving station, within a
certain radius, can catch any messages that may be flying through
the air--that is unless certain apparatus is tuned, or adjusted, to
"Well, once the impulses, or electric currents, are sent out into
space, all that is necessary to do is to break, or interrupt them at
certain intervals, to make dots, dashes and spaces. These make
corresponding clicks in the telephone receiver which the operator at
the receiving station wears on his ear. He hears the code of clicks,
and translates them into letters, the letters into words and the
words into sentences. That is how wireless messages are sent."
"And do you propose to send some that way?" asked Mrs. Anderson.
"I do," replied Tom, with a smile.
"Where to?" Mrs. Nestor wanted to know.
"That's what I can't tell," was Tom's reply. "I will have to project
them off into space, and trust to chance that some listening
wireless operator will 'pick them up,' as they call it, and send us
"But are wireless operators always listening?" asked Mr. Nestor.
"Somewhere, some of them are--I hope," was Tom's quiet answer. "As I
said, we will have to trust much to chance. But other people have
been saved by sending messages off into space; and why not we?
Sinking steamers have had their passengers taken off when the
operator called for help, merely by sending a message into space."
"But how can we tell them where to come for us--on this unknown
island?" inquired Mrs. Anderson.
"I fancy Captain Mentor can supply our longitude and latitude,"
answered Tom. "I will give that with every message I send out, and
help may come--some day."
"It can't come any too quick for me!" declared Mr. Damon. "Bless my
door knob, but my wife must be worrying about my absence!"
"What message for help will you send?" Captain Mentor wanted to
"I am going to use the old call for aid," was the reply of the young
inventor. "I shall flash into space the three letters 'C.Q.D.' They
stand for 'Come Quick--Danger.' A new code call has been instituted
for them, but I am going to rely on the old one, as, in this part of
the world, the new one may not be so well understood. Then I will
follow that by giving our position in the ocean, as nearly as
Captain Mentor can figure it out. I will repeat this call at
intervals until we get help--"
"Or until the island sinks," added the scientist, grimly.
"Here! Don't mention that any more," ordered Mr. Hosbrook. "It's
getting on my nerves! We may be rescued before that awful calamity
"I don't believe so," was Mr. Parker's reply, and he actually seemed
to derive pleasure from his gloomy prophecy.
"It's lucky you understand wireless telegraphy, Tom Swift," said Mr.
Nestor admiringly, and the other joined in praising the young
inventor, until, blushing, he hurried off to make some adjustments
to his apparatus.
"Can you compute our longitude and latitude, Captain Mentor," asked
the millionaire yacht owner.
"I think so," was the reply. "Not very accurately, of course, for
all my papers and instruments went down in the Resolute. But near
enough for the purpose, I fancy. I'll get right to work at it, and
let Mr. Swift have it."
"I wish you would. The sooner we begin calling for help the better.
I never expected to be in such a predicament as this, but it is
wonderful how that young fellow worked out his plan of rescue. I
hope he succeeds."
It took some little time for the commander to figure their position,
and then it was only approximate. But at length he handed Tom a
piece of paper with the latitude and longitude written on it.
In the meanwhile, the young inventor had been connecting up his
apparatus. The wires were now all strung, and all that was necessary
was to start the motor and dynamo.
A curious throng gathered about the little shack as Tom announced
that he was about to flash into space the first message calling for
help. He took his place at the box, to which had been fastened the
apparatus for clicking off the Morse letters.
"Well, here we go," he said, with a smile.
His fingers clasped the rude key he had fashioned from bits of brass
and hard rubber. The motor was buzzing away, and the electric dynamo
was purring like some big cat.
Just as Tom opened the circuit, to send the current into the
instrument, there came an ominous rumbling of the earth.
"Another quake!" screamed Mrs. Anderson. But it was over in a
second, and calmness succeeded the incipient panic.
Suddenly, overhead, there sounded a queer crackling noise, a
vicious, snapping, as if from some invisible whips.
"Mercy! What's that?" cried Mrs. Nestor.
"The wireless," replied Tom, quietly. "I am going to send a message
for help, off into space. I hope some one receives it--and answers,"
he added, in a low tone.
The crackling increased. While they gathered about him, Tom Swift
pressed the key, making and breaking the current until he had sent
out from Earthquake Island the three letters--"C.Q.D." And he
followed them by giving their latitude and longitude. Over and over
again he flashed out this message.
Would it be answered? Would help come? If so, from where? And if so,
would it be in time? These were questions that the castaways asked
themselves. As for Tom, he sat at the key, clicking away, while,
overhead, from the wires fastened to the dead tree, flashed out the
Chapter XXII Anxious Days
After the first few minutes of watching Tom click out the messages,
the little throng of castaways that had gathered about the shack,
moved away. The matter had lost its novelty for them, though, of
course, they were vitally interested in the success of Tom's
undertaking. Only Mr. Damon and Mr. Fenwick remained with the young
inventor, for he needed help, occasionally, in operating the dynamo,
or in adjusting the gasolene motor. Mrs. Nestor, who, with Mrs.
Anderson, was looking after the primitive housekeeping arrangements,
occasionally strolled up the hill to the little shed.
"Any answer yet, Mr. Swift?" she would ask.
"No." was the reply. "We can hardly expect any so soon," and Mrs.
Nestor would depart, with a sigh.
Knowing that his supply of gasolene was limited, Tom realized that
he could not run the dynamo steadily, and keep flashing the wireless
messages into space. He consulted with his two friends on the
subject, and Mr. Damon said:
"Well, the best plan, I think, would be only to send out the flashes
over the wires at times when other wireless operators will be on the
lookout, or, rather, listening. There is no use wasting our fuel. We
can't get any more here."
"That's true," admitted Tom, "but how can we pick out any certain
time, when we can be sure that wireless operators, within a zone of
a thousand miles, will be listening to catch clicks which call for
help from the unknown?"
"We can't," decided Mr. Fenwick. "The only thing to do is to trust
to chance. If there was only some way so you would not have to be on
duty all the while, and could send out messages automatically, it
would be good."
Tom shook his head. "I have to stay here to adjust the apparatus,"
he said. "It works none too easily as it is, for I didn't have just
what I needed from which to construct this station. Anyhow, even if
I could rig up something to click out 'C.Q.D.' automatically, I
could hardly arrange to have the answer come that way. And I want to
be here when the answer comes."
"Have you any plan, then?" asked Mr. Damon. "Bless my shoe laces!
there are enough problems to solve on this earthquake island."
"I thought of this," said Tom. "I'll send out our call for help from
nine to ten in the morning. Then I'll wait, and send out another
call from two to three in the afternoon. Around seven in the evening
I'll try again, and then about ten o'clock at night, before going to
"That ought to be sufficient," agreed Mr. Fenwick. "Certainly we
must save our gasolene, for there is no telling how long we may have
to stay here, and call for help."
"It won't be long if that scientist Parker has his way," spoke Mr.
Damon, grimly. "Bless my hat band, but he's a most uncomfortable man
to have around; always predicting that the island is going to sink!
I hope we are rescued before that happens."
"I guess we all do," remarked Mr. Fenwick. "But, Tom, here is
another matter. Have you thought about getting an answer from the
unknown--from some ship or wireless station, that may reply to your
calls? How can you tell when that will come in?"
"Then won't you or some of us, have to be listening all the while?"
"No, for I think an answer will come only directly after I have sent
cut a call, and it has been picked up by some operator. Still there
is a possibility that some operator might receive my message, and
report to his chief, or some one in authority over him, before
replying. In that time I might go away. But to guard against that I
will sleep with the telephone receiver clamped to my ear. Then I can
hear the answer come over the wires, and can jump up and reply."
"Do you mean you will sleep here?" asked Mr. Damon, indicating the
shack where the wireless apparatus was contained.
"Yes," answered Tom, simply.
"Can't we take turns listening for the answer?" inquired Mr.
Fenwick, "and so relieve you?"
"I'm afraid not, unless you understand the Morse code," replied Tom.
"You see there may be many clicks, which result from wireless
messages flying back and forth in space, and my receiver will pick
them up. But they will mean nothing. Only the answer to our call for
help will be of any service to us."
"Do you mean to say that you can catch messages flying back and
forth between stations now?" asked Mr. Fenwick.
"Yes," replied the young inventor, with a smile. "Here, listen for
yourself," and he passed the head-instrument over to the Whizzer's
former owner. The latter listened a moment.
"All I can hear are some faint clicks," he said.
"But they are a message," spoke Tom. "Wait, I'll translate," and he
put the receiver to his ear. "'Steamship "Falcon" reports a slight
fire in her forward compartment,'" said Tom, slowly. "'It is under
control, and we will proceed.'"
"Do you mean to say that was the message you heard?" cried Mr.
Damon. "Bless my soul, I never can understand it!"
"It was part of a message," answered Tom. "I did not catch it all,
nor to whom it was sent."
"But why can't you send a message to that steamship then, and beg
them to come to our aid?" asked Mr. Fenwick. "Even if they have had
a fire, it is out now, and they ought to be glad to save life."
"They would come to our aid, or send," spoke Tom, "but I can not
make their wireless operator pick up our message. Either his
apparatus is not in tune, or in accord with ours, or he is beyond
"But you heard him," insisted Mr. Damon.
"Yes, but sometimes it is easier to pick up messages than it is to
send them. However, I will keep on trying."
Putting into operation the plan he had decided on for saving their
supply of gasolene, Tom sent out his messages the remainder of the
day, at the intervals agreed upon. Then the apparatus was shut down,
but the lad paid frequent visits to the shack, and listened to the
clicks of the telephone receiver. He caught several messages, but
they were not in response to his appeals for aid.
That night there was a slight earthquake shock, but no more of the
island fell into the sea, though the castaways were awakened by the
tremors, and were in mortal terror for a while.
Three days passed, days of anxious waiting, during which time Tom
sent out message after message by his wireless, and waited in vain
for an answer. There were three shocks in this interval, two slight,
and one very severe, which last cast into the ocean a great cliff on
the far end of the island. There was a flooding rush of water, but
no harm resulted.
"It is coming nearer," said Mr. Parker.
"What is?" demanded Mr. Hosbrook.
"The destruction of our island. My theory will soon be confirmed,"
and the scientist actually seemed to take pleasure in it.
"Oh, you and your theory!" exclaimed the millionaire in disgust.
"Don't let me hear you mention it again! Haven't we troubles
enough?" whereat Mr. Parker went off by himself, to look at the
place where the cliff had fallen.
Each night Tom slept with the telephone receiver to his ear, but,
though it clicked many times, there was not sounded the call he had
adopted for his station--"E. I."--Earthquake Island. In each appeal
he sent out he had requested that if his message was picked up, that
the answer be preceded by the letters "E.I."
It was on the fourth day after the completion of the wireless
station, that Tom was sending out his morning calls. Mrs. Nestor
came up the little hill to the shack where Tom was clicking away.
"No replies yet, I suppose?" she inquired, and there was a hopeless
note in her voice.
"None yet, but they may come any minute," and Tom tried to speak
"I certainly hope so," added Mary's mother, "But I came up more
especially now, Mr. Swift, to inquire where you had stored the rest
of the food."
"The rest of the food?"
"Yes, the supply you took from the wrecked airship. We have used up
nearly all that was piled in the improvised kitchen, and we'll have
to draw on the reserve supply."
"The reserve," murmured Tom.
"Yes, there is only enough in the shack where Mrs. Anderson and I do
the cooking, to last for about two days. Isn't there any more?"
Tom did not answer. He saw the drift of the questioning. Their food
was nearly gone, yet the castaways from the Resolute thought there
was still plenty. As a matter of fact there was not another can,
except those in the kitchen shack.
"Get out wherever there is left some time to-day, if you will, Mr.
Swift," went on Mrs. Nestor, as she turned away, "and Mrs. Anderson
and I will see if we can fix up some new dishes for you men-folks."
"Oh--all right," answered Tom, weakly.
His hand dropped from the key of the instrument. He sat staring into
space. Food enough for but two days more, with earthquakes likely to
happen at any moment, and no reply yet to his appeals for aid! Truly
the situation was desperate. Tom shook his head. It was the first
time he had felt like giving up.
Chapter XXIII A Reply In The Dark
The young inventor looked out of the wireless shack. Down on the
beach he saw the little band of castaways. They were gathered in a
group about Mr. Jenks, who seemed to be talking earnestly to them.
The two ladies were over near the small building that served as a
"More food supplies needed, eh?" mused Tom. "Well, I don't know
where any more is to come from. We've stripped the Whizzer bare." He
glanced toward what remained of the airship. "I guess we'll have to
go on short rations, until help comes," and, wondering what the
group of men could be talking about, Tom resumed his clicking out of
his wireless message.
He continued to send it into space for several minutes after ten
o'clock, the hour at which he usually stopped for the morning, for
he thought there might be a possible chance that the electrical
impulses would be picked up by some vessel far out at sea, or by
some station operator who could send help.
But there came no answering clicks to the "E. I." station--to
Earthquake Island--and, after a little longer working of the key,
Tom shut down the dynamo, and joined the group on the beach.
"I tell you it's our only chance," Mr. Jenks was saying. "I must get
off this island, and that's the only way we can do it. I have large
interests at stake. If we wait for a reply to this wireless message
we may all be killed, though I appreciate that Mr. Swift is doing
his best to aid us. But it is hopeless!"
"What do you think about it, Tom?" asked Mr. Damon, turning to the
"Think about what?"
"Why Mr. Jenks has just proposed that we build a big raft, and
launch it. He thinks we should leave the island."
"It might be a good idea," agreed the lad, as he thought of the
scant food supply. "Of course, I can't say when a reply will be
received to my calls for aid, and it is best to be prepared."
"Especially as the island may sink any minute," added Mr. Parker.
"If it does, even a raft will be little good, as it may be swamped
in the vortex. I think it would be a good plan to make one, then
anchor it some distance out from the island. Then we can make a
small raft, and paddle out to the big one in a hurry if need be."
"Yes, that's a good idea, too," conceded Tom.
"And we must stock it well with provisions," said Mr. Damon. "Put
plenty of water and food aboard."
"We can't," spoke Tom, quietly.
"Because we haven't plenty of provisions. That's what I came down to
speak about," and the lad related what Mrs. Nestor had said.
"Then there is but one thing to do," declared Mr. Fenwick.
"What?" asked Captain Mentor.
"We must go on half rations, or quarter rations, if need be. That
will make our supply last longer. And another thing--we must not let
the women folks know. Just pretend that we're not hungry, but take
only a quarter, or at most, not more than a half of what we have
been in the habit of taking. There is plenty of water, thank
goodness, and we may be able to live until help comes."
"Then shall we build the raft?" asked Mr. Hosbrook.
It was decided that this would be a good plan, and they started it
that same day. Trees were felled, with axes and saws that had been
aboard the Whizzer, and bound together, in rude fashion, with strong
trailing vines from the forest. A smaller raft, as a sort of ferry,
was also made.
This occupied them all that day, and part of the next. In the
meanwhile, Tom continued to flash out his appeals for help, but no
answers came. The men cut down their rations, and when the two
ladies joked them on their lack of appetite, they said nothing. Tom
was glad that Mrs. Nestor did not renew her request to him to get
out the reserve food supply from what remained in the wreck of the
airship. Perhaps Mr. Nestor had hinted to her the real situation.
The large raft was towed out into a quiet bay of the island, and
anchored there by means of a heavy rock, attached to a rope. On
board were put cans of water, which were lashed fast, but no food
could be spared to stock the rude craft. All the castaways could
depend on, was to take with them, in the event of the island
beginning to sink, what rations they had left when the final shock
This done, they could only wait, and weary was that waiting. Tom
kept faithfully to his schedule, and his ear ached from the constant
pressure of the telephone receiver. He heard message after message
flash through space, and click on his instrument, but none of them
was in answer to his. On his face there came a grim and hopeless
One afternoon, a week following the erection of the wireless
station, Mate Fordam came upon a number of turtles. He caught some,
by turning them over on their backs, and also located a number of
nests of eggs under the warm sands.
"This will be something to eat," he said, joyfully, and indeed the
turtles formed a welcome food supply. Some fish were caught, and
some clams were cast up by the tide, all of which eked out the
scanty food supply that remained. The two ladies suspected the truth
now and they, too, cut down their allowance.
Tom, who had been sitting with the men in their sleeping shack, that
evening, rose, as the hour of ten approached. It was time to send
out the last message of the night, and then he would lie down on an
improvised couch, with the telephone receiver clamped to his ear, to
wait, in the silence of the darkness, for the message saying that
help was on the way.
"Well, are you off?" asked Mr. Damon, kindly. "I wish some of us
could relieve you, Tom."
"Oh, I don't mind it," answered the lad "Perhaps the message may
Hardly had he spoken than there sounded the ominous rumble and
shaking that presaged another earthquake. The shack rocked, and
threatened to come down about their heads.
"We must be doomed!" cried Mr. Parker. "The island is about to sink!
Make for the raft!"
"Wait and see how bad it is," counseled Mr. Hosbrook. "It may be
only a slight shock."
Indeed, as he spoke, the trembling of the island ceased, and there
was silence. The two ladies, who had retired to their own private
shack, ran out screaming, and Mr. Anderson and Mr. Nestor hastened
over to be with their wives.
"I guess it's passed over," spoke Mr. Fenwick.
An instant later there came another tremor, but it was not like that
of an earthquake shock. It was more like the rumble and vibration of
an approaching train.
"Look!" cried Tom, pointing to the left. Their gaze went in that
direction, and, under the light of a full moon they saw, sliding
into the sea, a great portion of one of the rocky hills.
"A landslide!" cried Captain Mentor. "The island is slowly breaking
"It confirms my theory!" said Mr. Parker, almost in triumph.
"Forget your theory for a while, Parker, please," begged Mr.
Hosbrook. "We're lucky to have left a place on which to stand! Oh,
when will we be rescued?" he asked hopelessly.
The worst seemed to be over at least for the present, and, learning
that the two ladies were quieted, Tom started up the hill to his
wireless station. Mr. Damon and Mr. Fenwick went with him, to aid in
starting the motor and dynamo. Then, after the message had been
clicked out as usual Tom would begin his weary waiting.
They found that the earthquake shock had slightly disturbed the
apparatus, and it took them half an hour to adjust it. As there had
been a delay on account of the landslide, it was eleven o'clock
before Tom began sending out any flashes, and he kept it up until
midnight. But there came no replies, so he shut off the power, and
prepared to get a little rest.
"It looks pretty hopeless; doesn't it?" said Mr. Fenwick, as he and
Mr. Damon were on their way back to the sleeping shack.
"Yes, it does. Our signal hasn't been seen, no ships have passed
this way, and our wireless appeal isn't answered. It does look
hopeless but, do you know, I haven't given up yet."
"Because I have faith in Tom Swift's luck!" declared the eccentric
man. "If you had been with him as much as I have, up in the air, and
under the water, and had seen the tight places he has gotten out of,
you'd feel the same, too!"
"Perhaps, but here there doesn't seem to be anything to do. It all
depends on some one else."
"That's all right. You leave it to Tom. He'll get an answer yet, you
see if he doesn't."
It was an hour past midnight. Tom tossed uneasily on the hard bed
in the wireless shack. The telephone receiver on his ear hurt him,
and he could not sleep.
"I may as well sit up for a while," he told himself, and he arose.
In the dimness of the shack he could see the outlines of the dynamo
and the motor.
"Guess I'll start her up, and send out some calls," he murmured. "I
might just happen to catch some ship operator who is up late. I'll
The young inventor started the motor, and soon the dynamo was
purring away. He tested the wireless apparatus. It shot out great
long sparks, which snapped viciously through the air. Then, in the
silence of the night, Tom clicked off his call for help for the
castaways of Earthquake Island.
For half an hour he sent it away into space, none of the others in
their shacks below him, awakening. Then Tom, having worked off his
restless fit, was about to return to bed.
But what was this? What was that clicking in the telephone receiver
at his ear? He listened. It was not a jumble of dots and dashes,
conveying through space a message that meant nothing to him. No! It
was his own call that was answered. The call of his station--"E.
"Where are you? What's wanted?"
That was the message that was clicked to Tom from somewhere in the
"I get your message 'E. I.' What's wanted? Do I hear you right?
Repeat." Tom heard those questions in the silence of the night.
With trembling fingers Tom pressed his own key. Out into the
darkness went his call for help.
"We are on Earthquake Island." He gave the longitude and
latitude. "Come quickly or we will be engulfed in the sea! We are
castaways from the yacht 'Resolute,' and the airship 'Whizzer.' Can
you save us?"
Came then this query:
"What's that about airship?"
"Never mind airship," clicked Tom. "Send help quickly! Who
The answer flashed to him through space:
"Steamship 'Cambaranian' from Rio de Janeiro to New York. Just
caught your message. Thought it a fake."
"No fake," Tom sent back. "Help us quickly! How soon can you
There was a wait, and the wireless operator clicked to Tom that he
had called the captain. Then came the report:
"We will be there within twenty-four hours. Keep in communication
"You bet I will," flashed back Tom, his heart beating joyously, and
then he let out a great shout. "We are saved! We are saved! My
wireless message is answered! A steamer is on her way to rescue us!"
He rushed from the shack, calling to the others.
"What's that?" demanded Mr. Hosbrook.
Tom briefly told of how the message had come to him in the night.
"Tell them to hurry," begged the rich yacht owner. "Say that I will
give twenty thousand dollars reward if we are taken off!"
"And I'll do the same," cried Mr. Jenks. "I must get to the place
where--" Then he seemed to recollect himself, and stopped suddenly.
"Tell them to hurry," he begged Tom. The whole crowd of castaways,
save the women, were gathered about the wireless shack.
"They'll need to hurry," spoke Mr. Parker, the gloomy scientist.
"The island may sink before morning!"
Mr. Hosbrook and the others glared at him, but he seemed to take
delight in his prediction.
Suddenly the wireless instruments hummed.
"Another message," whispered Tom. He listened.
"The 'Cambaranian' will rush here with all speed," he announced, and
not a heart there on that lonely and desolate island but sent up a
prayer of thankfulness.
Chapter XXIV "We Are Lost!"
There was little more sleep for any one that night. They sat up,
talking over the wonderful and unexpected outcome of Tom Swift's
wireless message, and speculating as to when the steamer would get
"Bless my pocket comb! But I told you it would come out all right,
if we left it to Tom!" declared Mr. Damon.
"But it hasn't come out yet," remarked the pessimistic scientist.
"The steamer may arrive too late."
"You're a cheerful sort of fellow to take on a yachting trip,"
murmured Mr. Hosbrook, sarcastically. "I'll never invite you again,
even if you are a great scientist."
"I'm going to sit and watch for the steamer," declared Mr. Damon, as
he went outside the shack. The night was warm, and there was a full
moon. "Which way will she come from, Tom?"
"I don't know, but I should think, that if she was on her way north,
from South America, she'd pass on the side of the island on which we
"That's right," agreed Captain Mentor. "She'll come up from over
there," and he pointed across the ocean directly in front of the
shacks and camp.
"Then I'm going to see if I can't be the first to sight her lights,"
declared Mr. Damon.
"She can't possibly get here inside of a day, according to what the
operator said," declared Tom.
"Wire them to put on all the speed they can," urged the eccentric
"No, don't waste any more power or energy than is needed," suggested
Mr. Hosbrook. "You may need the gasolene before we are rescued. They
are on their way, and that is enough for now."
The others agreed with this, and so Tom, after a final message to
the operator aboard the Cambaranian stating that he would call him
up in the morning, shut down the motor.
Mr. Damon took up his position where he could see far out over the
ocean, but, as the young inventor had said, there was no possible
chance of sighting the relief steamer inside of a day. Still the
nervous, eccentric man declared that he would keep watch.
Morning came, and castaways brought to breakfast a better appetite
than they had had in some time. They were allowed larger rations,
too, for it was seen that they would have just enough food to last
until taken off.
"We didn't need to have made the big raft," said Mr. Fenwick, as Tom
came down from his station, to report that he had been in
communication with the Camabarian and that she was proceeding under
forced draught. "We'll not have to embark on it, and I'm glad of
"Oh, we may need it yet," asserted Mr. Parker. "I have been making
some observations just now, and the island is in a very precarious
state. It is, I believe, resting on only a slim foundation, and the
least shock may break that off, and send it into the sea. That is
what my observations point out."
"Then I wish you wouldn't make any more observations!" exclaimed
Mrs. Nestor, with spirit. "You make me nervous."
"And me, also," added Mrs. Anderson.
"Science can not deceive, madam," retorted Mr. Parker.
"Well it can keep quiet about what it knows, and not make a person
have cold chills," replied Mary's mother. "I'm sure we will be
rescued in time."
There was a slight tremor of an earthquake, as they were eating
dinner that day, but, aside from causing a little alarm it did no
damage. In the afternoon, Tom again called up the approaching
steamer, and was informed that, because of a slight accident, it
could not arrive until the next morning. Every effort would be made
to keep up speed, it was said. There was much disappointment over
this, and Mr. Damon was observed to be closely examining the food
supply, but hope was too strong to be easily shattered now.
Mr. Parker went off alone, to make some further "observations" as he
called them, but Mr. Hosbrook warned him never again to speak of his
Mr. Barcoe Jenks called Tom aside just before supper that evening.
"I haven't forgotten what I said to you about my diamonds," he
remarked, with many nods and winks. "I'll show you how to make them,
if you will help me. Did you ever see diamonds made?"
"No, and I guess very few persons have." replied the lad, thinking
perhaps Mr. Jenks might not be quite right, mentally.
The night passed without alarm, and in the morning, at the first
blush of dawn, every one was astir, looking eagerly across the sea
for a sight of the steamer.
Tom had just come down from the wireless station, having received a
message to the effect that a few hours more would bring the
Cambaranian within sight of the island.
Suddenly there was a tremendous shock, as if some great cannon had
been fired, and the whole island shook to its very centre.
"Another earthquake! The worst yet!" screamed Mrs. Anderson.
"We are lost!" cried Mrs. Nestor, clinging to her husband.
An instant later they were all thrown down by the tremor of the
earth, and Tom, looking toward his wireless station, saw nearly half
of the island disappear from sight. His station went down in
collapse with it, splashing into the ocean, and the wave that
followed the terrible crash washed nearly to the castaways, as they
rose and kneeled on the sand.
"The island is sinking!" cried Mr. Parker. "Make for the raft!"
"I guess it's our only chance," murmured Captain Mentor, as he gazed
across the water. There was no steamer in sight. Could it arrive on
time? The tremors and shaking of the island continued.
Chapter XXV The Rescue--Conclusion
Down to where the small raft was moored ran Mr. Parker. He was
followed by some of the others.
"We must put off at once!" he cried. "Half the island is gone! The
other half may disappear any moment! The steamer can not get here on
time, but if we put off they may pick us up, if we are not engulfed
in the ocean. Help, everybody!"
Tom gave one more look at where his wireless station had been. It
had totally disappeared, there being, at the spot, now but a sheer
cliff, which went right down into the sea.
The women were in tears. The men, with pale faces, tried to calm
them. Gradually the earthquake tremor passed away; but who could
tell when another would come?
Captain Mentor, Mr. Hosbrook and the others were shoving out the
small raft. They intended to get aboard, and paddle out to the
larger one, which had been moored some distance away, in readiness
for some such emergency as this.
"Come on!" cried Mr. Fenwick to Tom who was lingering behind. "Come
on, ladies. We must all get aboard, or it may be too late!"
The small raft was afloat. Mrs. Anderson and Mrs. Nestor, weeping
hysterically, waded out through the water to get aboard.
"Have we food?" cried Mr. Damon. "Bless my kitchen range! but I
nearly forgot that."
"There isn't any food left to take," answered Mrs. Anderson.
"Shove off!" cried Captain Mentor.
At that instant a haze which had hung over the water, was blown to
one side. The horizon suddenly cleared. Tom Swift looked up and gave
"The steamer! The steamer! The Cambaranian!" he shouted, pointing to
The others joined in his exclamations of joy, for there, rushing
toward Earthquake Island was a great steamer, crowding on all speed!
"Saved! Saved!" cried Mrs. Nestor, sinking to her knees even in the
"It came just in time!" murmured Mr. Hosbrook.
"Now I can make my diamonds," whispered Mr. Jenks to Tom.
"Push off! Push off!" cried Mr. Parker. "The island will sink,
"I think we will be safer on the island than on the raft," declared
Captain Mentor. "We had better land again."
They left the little raft, and stood on the shore of the island.
Eagerly they watched the approach of the steamer. They could make
out hands and handkerchiefs waving to them now. There was eager hope
in every heart.
Suddenly, some distance out in the water, and near where the big
raft was anchored, there was a curious upheaval of the ocean. It was
as if a submarine mine had exploded! The sea swirled and foamed!
"It's a good thing we didn't go out there," observed Captain Mentor.
"We would have been swamped, sure as guns."
Almost as he spoke the big raft was tossed high into the air, and
fell back, breaking up. The castaways shuddered. Yet were they any
safer on the island? They fancied they could feel the little part of
it that remained trembling under their feet.
"The steamer is stopping!" cried Mr. Damon.
Surely enough the Cambaranian had slowed up. Was she not going to
complete the rescue she had begun?
"She's going to launch her lifeboats," declared Captain Mentor. "Her
commander dare not approach too close, not knowing the water. He
might hit on a rock."
A moment later and two lifeboats were lowered, and, urged on by the
sturdy arms of the sailors, they bounded over the waves. The sea
seemed to be more and more agitated.
"It is the beginning of the end," murmured Mr. Parker. "The island
will soon disappear."
"Will you be quiet?" demanded Mr. Damon, giving the scientist a
nudge in the ribs.
The lifeboats were close at hand now.
"Are you all there?" shouted some one, evidently in command.
"All here," answered Tom.
"Then hurry aboard. There seems to be something going on in these
waters--perhaps a submarine volcano eruption. We must get away in a
The boats came in to the shelving beach. There was a little stretch
of water between them and the sand. Through this the castaways
waded, and soon they were grasped by the sailors and helped in. In
the reaction of their worriment Mrs. Anderson and Mrs. Nestor were
both weeping, but their tears were those of joy.
"Give way now, men!" cried the mate in charge of the boats. "We must
get back to the ship!"
The sea was now swirling angrily, but the sailors, who had been in
worse turmoils than this, rowed on steadily.
"We feared you would not get here in time," said Tom to the mate.
"We were under forced draught most of the way," was his answer.
"Your wireless message came just in time. An hour later and our
operator would have gone to bed."
The young inventor realized by what a narrow margin they had been
"The island will soon sink," predicted Mr. Parker, as they reached
the steamer, and boarded her. Captain Valasquez, who was in command,
warmly welcomed the castaways.
"We will hear your story later," he said. "Just now I want to get
out of these dangerous waters."
He gave the order for full speed, and, as the Cambaranian got under
way, Tom, and the others, standing on the deck, looked back at
Suddenly there sounded a dull, rumbling report. The whole ocean
about the island seemed to upheave. There was a gigantic shower of
spray, a sound like an explosion, and when the waters subsided the
island had sunk from sight.
"I told you it would go," cried Mr. Parker, triumphantly, but the
horror of it all--the horror of the fate that would have been theirs
had they remained there an hour longer--held the castaways dumb. The
scientist's honor of having correctly predicted the destruction of
the island was an empty one.
The agitation of the sea rocked even the mighty Cambaranian and, had
our friends been aboard the frail raft, they would surely have
perished in the sea. As it was, they were safe--saved by Tom Swift's
The steamer resumed her voyage, and the castaways told their story.
Captain Valasquez refused to receive the large amount of money Mr.
Hasbrook and Mr. Jenks would have paid him for the rescue, accepting
only a sum he figured that he had lost by the delay, which was not a
great deal. The castaways were given the best aboard the ship, and
their stories were listened to by the other passengers with bated
In due time they were landed in New York, and Mr. and Mrs. Nestor
accompanied Tom to Shopton. Mr. Damon, with many blessings also
accompanied them, going to his home in Waterfield. Later it was
learned that the other boats from the Resolute had been picked up,
and the sailors and guests were all saved.
Of course, as soon as our friends had been rescued by the steamer,
the wireless operator aboard her, with whom Tom soon struck up an
acquaintance, sent messages to the relatives of the castaways,
apprising them of their safety.
And the joy of Mary Nestor, when she found that it was Tom who had
saved her parents, can well be imagined. As for our hero, well, he
was glad too--for Mary's sake.
"I won't forget my promise to you, Tom Swift," said Mr. Barcoe
Jenks, as he parted from the young inventor, and what the promise
was will be told in the next volume of this series, to be called:
"Tom Swift Among the Diamond Makers; or, The Secret of Phantom
Mountain." In that Tom is destined to have many more surprising
adventures, as is also Mr. Damon, who learned new ways to call down
blessings on himself and his possessions.
And now, for a time, we will take leave of the young inventor and
also of his many friends, who never ceased to wonder over Tom
Swift's skill with the wireless.