Tom Swift and His Great Searchlight
On the Border for Uncle Sam
by Victor Appleton
I A Scrap of Paper
II A Spy In Town
III Queer Repairs
IV Searching For Smugglers
V The Raid
VI The Appeal To Tom
VII A Searchlight Is Needed
VIII Tom's Newest Invention
IX "Beware Of the Comet!"
X Off For the Border
XI Andy's New Airship
XII Warned Away
XIII Koku Saves the Light
XIV A False Clew
XV The Rescue On the Lake
XVI Koku's Prisoner
XVII What the Indian Saw
XVIII The Pursuit
XIX In Dire Peril
XX Suspicious Actions
XXI Mr. Period Arrives
XXII Hovering O'er the Border
XXIII Ned Is Missing
XXIV The Night Race
XXV The Capture--Conclusion
Chapter I A Scrap of Paper
"Tom, did you know Andy Foger was back in town?"
"Great Scott, no, I didn't Ned! Not to stay, I hope."
"I guess not. The old Foger homestead is closed up, though I did see
a man working around it to-day as I came past. But he was a
carpenter, making some repairs I think. No, I don't believe Andy is
here to stay."
"But if some one is fixing up the house, it looks as if the family
would come back," remarked Tom, as he thought of the lad who had so
long been his enemy, and who had done him many mean turns before
leaving Shopton, where our hero lived.
"I don't think so," was the opinion of Ned Newton, who was Tom
Swift's particular chum. "You know when Mr. Foger lost all his
money, the house was supposed to be sold. But I heard later that
there was some flaw in the title, and the sale fell through. It is
because he couldn't sell the place that Mr. Foger couldn't get money
to pay some of his debts. He has some claim on the house, I believe,
but I don't believe he'd come back to live in it."
"Because it's too expensive a place for a poor man to keep up, and
Mr. Foger is now poor."
"Yes, he didn't get any of the gold, as we did when we went to the
underground city," remarked Tom. "Well, I don't wish anybody bad
luck but I certainly hope the Fogers keep poor enough to stay away
from Shopton. They bothered me enough. But where did you see Andy?"
"Oh, he was with his crony, Sam Snedecker. You know Sam said, some
time ago, that Andy was to pay him a visit, but Andy didn't come
then, for some reason or other. I suppose this call makes up for it.
I met them down near Parker's drug store."
"You didn't hear Andy say anything about coming back here?" and the
young inventor's voice was a trifle anxious.
"No," replied Ned. "What makes you so nervous about it?"
"Well, Ned, you know what Andy is--always trying to make trouble for
me, even sneaking in my shop sometimes, trying to get the secret of
some of my airships and machinery. And I admit I think it looks
suspicious when they have a carpenter working on the old homestead.
Andy may come back, and--"
"Nonsence, Tom! If he does you and I can handle him. But I think
perhaps the house may be rented, and they may be fixing it up for a
tenant. It's been vacant a long time you know, and I heard the other
day that it was haunted."
"Haunted, Ned! Get out! Say, you don't believe in that sort of bosh,
"Of course not. It was Eradicate who told me, and he said when he
came past the place quite late the other night he heard groans, and
the clanking of chains coming from it, and he saw flashing lights."
"Oh, wow! Eradicate is getting batty in his old age, poor fellow! He
and his mule Boomerang are growing old together, and I guess my
colored helper is 'seeing things,' as well as hearing them. But, as
you say, it may be that the house is going to be rented. It's too
valuable a property to let stand idle. Did you hear how long Andy
was going to stay?"
"A week, I believe."
"A week! Say, one day would be enough I should think."
"You must have some special reason for being afraid Andy will do you
some harm," exclaimed Ned. "Out with it, Tom."
"Well, I'll tell you what it is, Ned," and Tom led his chum inside
the shop, in front of which the two lads had been talking. It was a
shop where the young inventor constructed many of his marvelous
machines, aircraft, and instruments of various sorts.
"Do you think some one may hear you?" asked Ned.
"They might. I'm not taking any chances. But the reason I want to be
especially careful that Andy Foger doesn't spy on any of my
inventions is that at last I have perfected my noiseless airship
"You have!" cried Ned, for he knew that his chum had been working
for a long time on this motor, that would give out no sound, no
matter at how high a speed it was run. "That's great, Tom! I
congratulate you. I don't wonder you don't want Andy to get even a
peep at it."
"Especially as I haven't it fully patented," went on the young
inventor. He had met with many failures in his efforts to perfect
this motor, which he intended to install on one of his airships. "If
any one saw the finished parts now it wouldn't take them long to
find out the secret of doing away with the noise."
"How do you do it?" asked Ned, for he realized that his chum had no
secrets from him.
"Well, it's too complicated to describe," said Tom, "but the secret
lies in a new way of feeding gasolene into the motor, a new sparking
device, and an improved muffler. I think I could start my new
airship in front of the most skittish horse, and he wouldn't stir,
for the racket wouldn't wake a baby. It's going to be great."
"What are you going to do with it, when you get it all completed?"
"I haven't made up my mind yet. It's going to be some time before I
get it all put together, and installed, and in that time something
may turn up. Well, let's talk about something more pleasant than
Andy Foger. I guess I won't worry about him."
"No, I wouldn't. I'd like to see the motor run."
"You can, in a day or so, but just now I need a certain part to
attach to the sparker, and I had to send to town for it. Koku has
gone after it."
"What, that big giant servant? He might break it on the way back,
he's so strong. He doesn't realize how much muscle he has."
"No, that's so. Well, while we're waiting for him, come on in the
house, and I'll show you some new books I got."
The two lads were soon in the Swift homestead, a pleasant and large
old-fashioned residence, in the suburbs of Shopton. Tom brought out
the books, and he and his chum poured over them.
"Mr. Damon gave me that one on electricity," explained the young
inventor, handing Ned a bulky volume.
"'Bless my bookmark!' as Mr. Damon himself would say if he were
here," exclaimed Ned with a laugh. "That's a dandy. But Mr. Damon
didn't give you this one," and Ned picked up a dainty volume of
verse. "'To Tom Swift, with the best wishes of Mary--'" but that
was as far as he read, for Tom grabbed the book away, and closed the
cover over the flyleaf, which bore some writing in a girl's hand. I
think my old readers can guess whose hand it was.
"Wow! Tom Swift reading poetry!" laughed Ned.
"Oh, cut it out," begged his chum. "I didn't know that was among the
books. I got it last Christmas. Now here's a dandy one on lion
hunting, Ned," and to cover his confusion Tom shoved over a book
containing many pictures of wild animals.
"Lion hunting; eh," remarked Ned. "Well, I guess you could give them
some points on snapping lions with your moving picture camera, Tom."
"Yes, I got some good views," admitted the young inventor modestly.
"I may take the camera along on some trips in my noiseless airship.
Hello! here comes Koku back. I hope he got what I wanted."
A man, immense in size, a veritable giant, one of two whom Tom Swift
had brought away from captivity with him, was entering the front
gate. He stopped to speak to Mr. Swift, Tom's father, who was
setting out some plants in a flower bed, taking them from a large
wheel barrow filled with the blooms.
Mr. Swift, who was an inventor of note, had failed in his health of
late, and the doctor had recommended him to be out of doors as much
as possible. He delighted in gardening, and was at it all day.
"Look!" suddenly cried Ned, pointing to the giant. Then Tom and his
chum saw a strange sight.
With a booming laugh, Koku picked up Mr. Swift gently and set him on
a board that extended across the front part of the wheel barrow.
Then, as easily as if it was a pound weight, the big man lifted Mr.
Swift, barrow, plants and all, in his two hands, and carried them
across the garden to another flower bed, that was ready to be
"No use to walk when I can carry you, Mr. Swift," exclaimed Koku
with a laugh. "I overtook you quite nice; so?"
"Yes, you took me over in great shape, Koku!" replied the aged
inventor with a smile at Koku's English, for the giant frequently
got his words backwards. "That barrow is quite heavy for me to
"You after this call me," suggested Koku.
"Say, but he's strong all right," exclaimed Ned, "and that was an
awkward thing to carry."
"It sure was," agreed Tom. "I haven't yet seen any one strong enough
to match Koku. And he's gentle about it, too. He's very fond of
"And you too, I guess," added Ned.
"Well, Koku, did you get that attachment?" asked Tom, as his giant
servant entered the room.
"Yes, Mr. Tom. I have it here," and from his pocket Koku drew a
heavy piece of steel that would have taxed the strength of either of
the boys to lift with one hand. But Koku's pockets were very large
and made specially strong of leather, for he was continually putting
odd things in them.
Koku handed over the attachment, for which his master had sent him.
He held it out on a couple of fingers, as one might a penknife, but
Tom took both hands to set it on the ground.
"I the female get, also," went on Koku, as he began taking some
letters and papers from his pocket. "I stop in the office post, and
the female get."
"Mail, Koku, not female," corrected Tom with a laugh. "A female is a
lady you know."
"For sure I know, and the lady in the post office gave me the
female. That is I said what, did I not?"
"Well, I guess you meant it all right," remarked Ned. "But letter
mail and a male man and a female woman are all different."
"Oh such a language!" gasped the giant. "I shall never learn it.
Well, then, Mr. Tom, here is your mail, that the female lady gave to
me for you, and you are a male. It is very strange."
Koku pulled out a bundle of letters, which Tom took, and then the
giant continued to delve for more. One of the papers, rolled in a
wrapper, stuck on the edge of the pocket.
"You must outcome!" exclaimed Koku, giving it a sudden yank, and it
"outcame" with such suddenness that the paper was torn in half,
tightly wrapped as it was, and it was considerable of a bundle.
"Koku, you're getting too strong!" exclaimed Tom, as scraps of paper
were scattered about the room. "I think I'll give you less to eat."
"I am your forgiveness," said Koku humbly, as he stooped over to
pick up the fragments. "I did not mean."
"It's all right," said Tom kindly. "That's only a big bundle of
Sunday papers I guess."
"I'll give him a hand," volunteered Ned, stooping over to help Koku
clear the rug of the litter. As he did so Tom's chum gave a gasp of
"Hello, Tom!" Ned cried. "Here's something new, and I guess it will
"What is it?"
"It's part of an account of some daring smugglers who are working
goods across the Canadian border into the northern part of this
state. The piece is torn, but there's something here which says the
government agents suspect the men of using airships to transport the
"Airships! Smugglers using airships!" cried Tom. "It doesn't seem
"That's what it says here, Tom. It says the custom house authorities
have tried every way to catch them, and when they couldn't land 'em,
the only theory they could account for the way the smuggling was
going on was by airships, flying at night."
"That's odd. I wonder how it would seem to chase a smuggler in an
airship at night? Some excitement about that; eh, Ned? Let's see
that scrap of paper."
Ned passed it over, and Tom scanned it closely. Then in his turn, he
uttered an exclamation of surprise.
"What is it?" inquired his chum.
"Great Scott, Ned, listen to this! 'It is suspected that some of the
smugglers have'--then there's a place where the paper is torn-'in
Shopton, N.Y.'" finished Tom. "Think of that, Ned. Our town here, is
in some way connected with the airship smugglers! We must find the
rest of this scrap of paper, and paste it together. This may be a
big thing! Find that other scrap! Koku, you go easy on papers next
time," cautioned Tom, good naturedly, as he and his chum began
sorting over the torn parts of the paper.
Chapter II A Spy In Town
Tom Swift, Ned Newton and Koku, the giant, are busy trying to piece
together the torn parts of the paper, containing an account of the
airship smugglers. I will take the opportunity of telling you
something about the young inventor and his work, for, though many of
my readers have made Tom's acquaintances in previous books of this
series, there may be some who pick up this one as their first
Tom lived with his father, also an inventor of note, in the town of
Shopton, New York state. His mother was dead, and a Mrs. Baggert
kept house. Eradicate was an eccentric, colored helper, but of late
had become too old to do much. Mr. Swift was also quite aged, and
had been obliged to give up most of his inventive work.
Ned Newton was Tom Swift's particular chum, and our hero had another
friend, a Mr. Wakefield Damon, of the neighboring town of Waterford.
Mr. Damon had the odd habit of blessing everything he saw or could
think of. Another of Tom's friends was Miss Mary Nestor, whom I have
mentioned, while my old readers will readily recognize in Andy Foger
a mean bully, who made much trouble for Tom.
The first book of the series was called "Tom Swift and His
Motor-Cycle," and on that machine Tom had many advances on the road,
and not a little fun. After that Tom secured a motor boat, and had a
race with Andy Foger. In his airship our hero made a stirring cruise,
while in his submarine boat he and his father recovered a sunken
When Tom Swift invented a new electric run-about he did not realize
that it was to be the speediest car on the road, but so it proved,
and he was able to save the bank with it. In the book called "Tom
Swift and His Wireless Message," I told you how he saved the
castaways of Earthquake Island, among whom were Mr. and Mrs. Nestor,
the parents of Mary.
Tom Swift had not been long on the trail of the diamond makers
before he discovered the secret of Phantom Mountain, and after that
adventure he went to the caves of ice, where his big airship was
wrecked. But he got home, and soon made another, which he called a
sky racer, and in that he made the quickest flight on record.
With his electric rifle Tom went to elephant land, where he
succeeded in rescuing two missionaries from the red pygmies. A
little later he set out for the city of gold, and had marvelous
Hearing of a deposit of valuable platinum in Siberia, Tom started
for that lonely place, and, to reach a certain part of if, he had to
invent a new machine, called an air glider. It was an aeroplane
without means of propulsion save the wind.
In the book, "Tom Swift in Captivity," I related the particulars of
how he brought away two immense men from giant land. One, Koku, he
kept for himself, while the other made a good living by being
exhibited in a circus.
When the present story opens Tom had not long been home after a
series of strange adventures. A moving picture concern, with which
Mr. Nestor was associated, wanted some views of remarkable scenes,
such as fights among wild beasts, the capture of herds of elephants,
earthquakes, and volcanos in action, and great avalanches in the
Alps. Tom invented a wizard camera, and got many good views, though
at times he was in great danger, even in his airship. Especially was
this so at the erupting volcano.
But our hero came swiftly back to Shopton, and there, all Winter and
Spring, he busied himself perfecting a new motor for an airship--a
motor that would make no noise. He perfected it early that Summer,
and now was about to try it, when the incident of the torn newspaper
"Have you got all the pieces, Tom?" asked Ned, as he passed his chum
several scraps, which were gathered up from the floor.
"I think so. Now we'll paste them together, and see what it says. We
may be on the trail of a big mystery, Ned."
"Maybe. Go ahead and see what you can make of it."
Tom fitted together, as best he could, the ragged pieces, and then
pasted them on a blank sheet of paper.
"I guess I've got it all here now," he said finally. "I'll skip the
first part. You read me most of that, Ned. Just as you told me, it
relates how the government agents, having tried in vain to get a
clew to the smugglers, came to the conclusion that they must be
using airships to slip contraband goods over the border at night."
"Now where's that mention of Shopton? Oh, here it is," and he read:
"'It is suspected that some of the smugglers have been communicating
with confederates in Shopton, New York. This came to the notice of
the authorities to-day, when one of the government agents located
some of the smuggled goods in a small town in New York on the St.
Lawrence. The name of this town is being kept secret for the
"'It was learned that the goods were found in a small, deserted
house, and that among them were letters from someone in Shopton,
relating to the disposal of the articles. They refuse to say who the
letters were from, but it is believed that some of Uncle Sam's men
may shortly make their appearance in the peaceful burg of Shopton,
there to follow up the clew. Many thousands of dollars worth of
goods have been smuggled, and the United States, as well as the
Dominion of Canada custom authorities, say they are determined to
put a stop to the daring efforts of the smugglers. The airship
theory is the latest put forth.'"
"Well, say, that's the limit!" cried Ned, as Tom finished reading.
"What do you know about that?"
"It brings it right home to us," agreed the young inventor. "But who
is there in Shopton who would be in league with the smugglers?"
"That's hard to say."
"Of course we don't know everyone in town," went on Tom, "but I'm
pretty well acquainted here, and I don't know of a person who would
dare engage in such work."
"Maybe it's a stranger who came here, and picked out this place
because it was so quiet," suggested Ned.
"That's possible. But where would he operate from?" asked Tom.
"There are few in Shopton who would want to buy smuggled goods."
"They may only ship them here, and fix them so they can't be
recognized by the custom authorities, and then send them away
again," went on Ned. "This may be a sort of clearing-house for the
"That's so. Well, I don't know as we have anything to do with it.
Only if those fellows are using an airship I'd like to know what
kind it is. Well, come on out to the shop now, and we'll see how the
silent motor works."
On the way Tom passed his father, and, telling him not to work too
hard in the sun, gave his parent the piece of paper to read, telling
about the smugglers.
"Using airships! eh?" exclaimed Mr. Swift. "And they think there's a
clew here in Shopton? Well, we'll get celebrated if we keep on,
Tom," he added with a smile.
Tom and Ned spent the rest of the day working over the motor, which
was set going, and bore out all Tom claimed for it. It was as silent
as a watch.
"Next I want to get it in the airship, and give it a good test," Tom
remarked, speeding it up, as it was connected on a heavy base in the
"I'll help you," promised Ned, and for the next few days the chums
were kept busy fitting the silent motor into one of Tom's several
"Well, I think we can make a flight to-morrow," said the young
inventor, about a week later. "I need some new bolts though, Ned.
Let's take a walk into town and get them. Oh, by the way, have you
seen anything more of Andy Foger?"
"No, and I don't want to. I suppose he's gone back home after his
visit to Sam. Let's go down the street, where the Foger house is,
and see if there's anything going on."
As the two lads passed the mansion, they saw a man, in the kind of
suit usually worn by a carpenter, come out of the back door and
stand looking across the garden. In his hand he held a saw.
"Still at the repairs, I guess," remarked Ned. "I wonder what--"
"Look there! Look! Quick!" suddenly interrupted Tom, and Ned,
looking, saw someone standing behind the carpenter in the door. "If
that isn't Andy Foger, I'll eat my hat!" cried Tom.
"It sure is," agreed Ned. "What in the world is he doing there?"
But his question was not answered, for, a moment later, Andy turned,
and went inside, and the carpenter followed, closing the door behind
"That's queer," spoke Tom.
"Very," agreed Ned. "He didn't go back after all. I'd like to know
what's going on in there."
"And there's someone else who would like to know, also, I think,"
said Tom in a low voice.
"Who?" asked Ned.
"That man hiding behind the big tree across the street. I'm sure
he's watching the Foger house, and when Andy came to the door that
time, I happened to look around and saw that man focus a pair of
opera glasses on him and the carpenter."
"You don't mean it, Tom!" exclaimed Ned.
"I sure do. I believe that man is some sort of a spy or a
"Do you think he's after Andy?"
"I don't know. Let's not get mixed up in the affair, anyhow. I don't
want to be called in as a witness. I haven't the time to spare."
As if the man behind the tree was aware that he had attracted the
attention of our friends, he quickly turned and walked away. Tom and
Ned glanced up at the Foger house, but saw nothing, and proceeded on
to the store.
"I'll wager anything that Andy has been getting in some sort of
trouble in the town he moved to from here," went on Tom, "and he
daren't go back. So he came here, and he's hiding in his father's
old house. He could manage to live there for a while, with the
carpenter bringing him in food. Say, did you notice who that man
was, with the saw?"
"Yes, he's James Dillon, a carpenter who lives down on our street,"
replied Ned. "A nice man, too. The next time I see him, I'm going to
ask him what Andy is doing in town, and what the repairs are that
he's making on the house."
"Well, of course if Andy has been doing anything wrong, he wouldn't
admit it," said Tom. "Though Mr. Dillon may tell you about the
carpenter work. But I'm sure that man was a detective from the town
where Andy moved to. You'll see."
"I don't think so," was Ned's opinion. "If Andy was hiding he
wouldn't show himself as plainly as he did."
The two chums argued on this question, but could come to no
decision. Then, having reached Tom's home with the bolts, they went
hard at work on the airship.
"Well, now to see what happens!" exclaimed Tom the next day, when
everything was ready for a trial flight. "I wish Mr. Damon was here.
I sent him word, but I didn't hear from him."
"Oh, he may show up any minute," replied Ned, as he helped Tom and
Koku wheel the newly-equipped airship out of the shed. "The first
thing you'll hear will be him blessing something. Is this far enough
"No, a little more, and then head her up into the wind. I say, Ned,
if this is a success, and--"
Tom stopped suddenly and looked out into the road. Then, in a low
voice, he said, to Ned:
"Don't move suddenly, or he'll suspect that we're onto his game, but
turn around slowly, and look behind that big sycamore tree in front
of our house Ned. Tell me what you see."
"There's a man hiding there, Tom," reported his chum, a little
later, after a cautious observation.
"I thought so. What's he doing?"
"Why he--by Jove! Tom, he's looking at us through opera glasses,
like that other--"
"It isn't another, it's the same fellow!" whispered Tom. "It's the
spy who was watching Andy! I'm going to see what's up," and he
strode rapidly toward the street, at the curb of which was the tree
that partly screened the man behind it.
Chapter III Queer Repairs
Quickly Tom Swift crossed the space between the airship, that was
ready for a flight, and the tree. The man behind it had apparently
not seen Tom coming, being so interested in looking at the airship,
which was a wonderful craft. He was taken completely by surprise as
Tom, stepping up to him, asked sharply:
"Who are you and what are you doing here?"
The man started so that he nearly dropped the opera glasses, which
he had held focused on the aeroplane. Then he stepped back, and eyed
"What do you want?" repeated our hero. "What right have you to be
spying on that airship--on these premises?" The man hesitated a
moment, and then coolly returned the glasses to his pocket. He did
not seem at all put out, after his first start of surprise.
"What are you doing?" Tom again asked. He looked around to see where
Koku, the giant, was, and beheld the big man walking slowly toward
him, for Ned had mentioned what had taken place.
"What right have you to question my actions?" asked the man, and
there was in his tones a certain authority that made Tom wonder.
"Every right," retorted our hero. "That is my airship, at which you
have been spying, and this is where I live."
"Oh, it is; eh?" asked the man calmly. "And that's your airship,
"I invented it, and built the most of it myself. If you are
interested in such things, and can assure me that you have no spying
methods in view, I can show you--"
"Have you other airships?" interrupted the man quickly.
"Yes, several," answered Tom. "But I can't understand why you should
be spying on me. If you don't care to accept my offer, like a
gentleman, tell me who you are, and what your object is, I will have
my assistant remove you. You are on private property, as this street
is not a public one, being cut through by my father. I'll have Koku
remove you by force, if you won't go peaceably, and I think you'll
agree with me that Koku can do it. Here Koku," he called sharply,
and the big man advanced quickly.
"I wouldn't do anything rash, if I were you," said the man quietly.
"As for this being private property, that doesn't concern me. You're
Tom Swift, aren't you; and you have several airships?"
"Yes, but what right have you to--"
"Every right!" interrupted the man, throwing back the lapel of his
coat, and showing a badge. "I'm Special Agent William Whitford, of
the United States Customs force, and I'd like to ask you a few
questions, Tom Swift." He looked our hero full in the face.
"Customs department!" gasped Tom. "You want to ask me some
"That's it," went on the man, in a business-like voice.
"Smuggling by airship from Canada!"
"What!" cried Tom. "Do you mean to say you suspect me of being
"Now go easy," advised the man calmly. "I didn't say anything,
except that I wanted to question you. If you'd like me to do it out
here, why I can. But as someone might hear us--"
"Come inside," said Tom quietly, though his heart was beating in a
tumult. "You may go, Koku, but stay within call," he added
significantly. "Come on, Ned," and he motioned to his chum who was
approaching. "This man is a custom officer and not a spy or a
detective, as we thought."
"Oh, yes, I am a sort of a detective," corrected Mr. Whitford. "And
I'm a spy, too, in a way, for I've been spying on you, and some
other parties in town. But you may be able to explain everything,"
he added, as he took a seat in the library between Ned and Tom. "I
only know I was sent here to do certain work, and I'm going to do
it. I wanted to make some observations before you saw me, but I
wasn't quite quick enough."
"Would you mind telling me what you want to know?" asked Tom, a bit
impatiently. "You mentioned smuggling, and--"
"Smuggling!" interrupted Ned.
"Yes, over from Canada. Maybe you have seen something in the papers
about our department thinking airships were used at night to slip
the goods over the border."
"We saw it!" cried Tom eagerly. "But how does that concern me?"
"I'll come to that, presently," replied Mr. Whitford. "In the first
place, we have been roundly laughed at in some papers for proposing
such a theory. And yet it isn't so wild as it sounds. In fact, after
seeing your airship, Tom Swift, I'm convinced--"
"That I've been smuggling?" asked Tom with a laugh.
"Not at all. As you have read, we confiscated some smuggled goods
the other day, and among them was a scrap of paper with the words
Shopton, New York, on it."
"Was it a letter from someone here, or to someone here?" asked Ned.
"The papers intimated so."
"No. they only guessed at that part of it. It was just a scrap of
paper, evidently torn from a letter, and it only had those three
words on it. Naturally we agents thought we could get a clew here.
We imagined, or at least I did, for I was sent to work up this end,
that perhaps the airships for the smugglers were made here. I made
inquiries, and found that you, Tom Swift, and one other, Andy Foger,
had made, or owned, airships in Shopton."
"I came here, but I soon exhausted the possibility of Andy Foger
making practical airships. Besides he isn't at home here any more,
and he has no facilities for constructing the craft as you have. So
I came to look at your place, and I must say that it looks a bit
suspicious, Mr. Swift. Though, of course, as I said," he added with
a smile, "you may be able to explain everything."
"I think I can convince you that I had no part in the smuggling,"
spoke Tom, laughing. "I never sell my airships. If you like you may
talk with my father, the housekeeper, and others who can testify
that since my return from taking moving pictures, I have not been
out of town, and the smuggling has been going on only a little
"That is true," assented the custom officer. "I shall be glad to
listen to any evidence you may offer. This is a very baffling case.
The government is losing thousands of dollars every month, and we
can't seem to stop the smugglers, or get much of a clew to them.
This one is the best we have had so far."
It did not take Tom many hours to prove to the satisfaction of Mr.
Whitford that none of our hero's airships had taken any part in
cheating Uncle Sam out of custom duties.
"Well, I don't know what to make of it," said the government agent,
with a disappointed air, as he left the office of the Shopton chief
of police, who, with others, at Tom's request, had testified in his
favor. "This looked like a good clew, and now it's knocked into a
cocked hat. There's no use bothering that Foger fellow," he went on,
"for he has but one airship, I understand."
"And that's not much good." put in Ned. "I guess it's partly
wrecked, and Andy has kept it out in the barn since he moved away."
"Well, I guess I'll be leaving town then," went on the agent. "I
can't get any more clews here, and there may be some new ones found
on the Canadian border where my colleagues are trying to catch the
rascals. I'm sorry I bothered you, Tom Swift. You certainly have a
fine lot of airships," he added, for he had been taken through the
shop, and shown the latest, noiseless model. "A fine lot. I don't
believe the smugglers, if they use them, have any better."
"Nor as good!" exclaimed Ned. "Tom's can't be beat."
"It's too late for our noiseless trial now," remarked Tom, after the
agent had gone. "Let's put her back in the shed, and then I'll take
you down street, and treat you to some ice cream, Ned. It's getting
quite summery now."
As the boys were coming out of the drug store, where they had eaten
their ice cream in the form of sundaes, Ned uttered a cry of
surprise at the sight of a man approaching them.
"It's Mr. Dillon, the carpenter whom we saw in the Foger house,
Tom!" exclaimed his chum. "This is the first chance I've had to talk
to him. I'm going to ask him what sort of repairs he's making inside
the old mansion." Ned was soon in conversation with him.
"Yes, I'm working at the Foger house," admitted the carpenter, who
had done some work for Ned's father. "Mighty queer repairs, too.
Something I never did before. If Andy wasn't there to tell me what
he wanted done I wouldn't know what to do."
"Is Andy there yet?" asked Tom quickly.
"Yes, he's staying in the old house. All alone too, except now and
then, he has a chum stay there nights with him. They get their own
meals. I bring the stuff in, as Andy says he's getting up a surprise
and doesn't want any of the boys to see him, or ask questions. But
they are sure queer repairs I'm doing," and the carpenter scratched
his head reflectively.
"What are you doing?" asked Ned boldly.
"Fixing up Andy's old airship that was once busted," was the
unexpected answer, "and after I get that done, if I ever do, he
wants me to make a platform for it on the roof of the house, where
he can start it swooping through the air. Mighty queer repairs, I
call 'em. Well, good evening, boys," and the carpenter passed on.
Chapter IV Searching For Smugglers
"Well, of all things!"
"Who in the world would think such a thing?"
"Andy going to start out with his airship again!"
"And going to sail it off the roof of his house!"
These were the alternate expressions that came from Tom and Ned, as
they stood gazing at each other after the startling information
given them by Mr. Dillon, the carpenter.
"Do you really think he means it?" asked Tom, after a pause, during
which they watched the retreating figure of the carpenter. "Maybe he
was fooling us."
"No, Mr. Dillon seldom jokes," replied Ned, "and when he does, you
can always tell. He goes to our church, and I know he wouldn't
deliberately tell an untruth. Oh. Andy's up to some game all right."
"I thought he must be hanging around here the way he has been,
instead of being home. But I admit I may have been wrong about the
police being after him. If he'd done something wrong, he would
hardly hire a man to work on the house while he was hiding in it. I
guess he just wants to keep out of the way of everybody but his own
particular cronies. But I wonder what he is up to, anyhow; getting
his airship in shape again?"
"Give it up, unless there's an aero meet on somewhere soon," replied
Ned. "Maybe he's going to try a race again."
Tom shook his head.
"I'd have heard about any aviation meets, if there were any
scheduled," he replied. "I belong to the national association, and
they send out circulars whenever there are to be races. None are on
for this season. No, Andy has some other game."
"Well, I don't know that it concerns us," spoke Ned.
"Not as long as he doesn't bother me," answered the young inventor.
"Well, Ned, I suppose you'll be over in the morning and help me try
out the noiseless airship?"
"Sure thing. Say, it was queer, about that government agent, wasn't
it? suspecting you of supplying airships to the smugglers?"
"Rather odd," agreed Tom. "He might much better suspect Andy Foger."
"That's so, and now that we know Andy is rebuilding his old airship,
maybe we'd better tell him."
"That government agent. Tell him he's wrong in thinking that Andy is
out of the game. We might send him word that we just learned that
Andy is getting active again. He has as much right to suspect and
question him, as he had you."
"Oh, I don't know," began Tom slowly. He was not a vindicative
youth, nor, for that matter, was Ned. And Tom would not go out of
his way to give information about an enemy, when it was not certain
that the said enemy meant anything wrong. "I don't believe there's
anything in it," finished our hero. "Andy may have a lot of time on
his hands, and, for want of something better to do, he's fixing up
"Look!" suddenly exclaimed Ned. "There's that agent now! He's going
to the depot to get a train, I guess," and he pointed to the
government man, who had so lately interviewed Tom. "I'm going to
speak to him!" impulsively declared Ned.
"I wouldn't," objected Tom, but his chum had already hastened on
ahead, and soon was seen talking excitedly to Mr. Whitford. Tom
sauntered up in time to hear the close of the conversation.
"I'm much obliged to you for your information," said the custom
officer, "but I'm afraid, just as you say your chum felt about it,
that there's nothing in it. This Foger chap may have been bad in the
past, but I hardly think he's in with the smugglers. What I'm
looking for is not a lad who has one airship, but someone who is
making a lot of them, and supplying the men who are running goods
over the border. That's the sort of game I'm after, and if this Andy
Foger only has one aeroplane I hardly think he can be very
"Well, perhaps not," admitted Ned. "But I thought I'd tell you."
"And I'm glad you did. If you hear anything more. I'll be glad to
have you let me know. Here's my card," and thanking the boys for
their interest Mr. Whitford passed on.
Tom and Ned gave the noiseless airship a test the next day. The
craft, which was the stanch Falcon, remodeled, was run out of the
shed, Koku the giant helping, while Mr. Swift stood looking on, an
interested spectator of what his son was about to do. Eradicate, the
old colored man, who was driving his mule Boomerang, hitched to a
wagon in which he was carting away some refuse that had been raked
up in the garden, halted his outfit nearby.
"I say, Massa Tom!" he called, as the young inventor passed near
him, in making a tour of the ship.
"Well, Rad, what is it?"
"Doan't yo'-all want fo' ma an' Boomerang t' gib yo'-all a tow?
Mebby dat new-fangled contraption yo'-all has done put on yo' ship
won't wuk, an' mebby I'd better stick around t' pull yo'-all home."
"No, Rad, I guess it will work all right. If it doesn't, and we get
stuck out a mile or two, I'll send you a wireless message."
"Doan't do dat!" begged the colored man. "I neber could read dem
wireless letters anyhow. Jest gib a shout, an' me an' Boomerang will
"All right, Rad, I will. Now, Ned, is everything in shape?"
"I think so, Tom."
"Koku, just put a little more wind in those tires. But don't pump as
hard as you did the other day," Tom cautioned.
"What happened then?" asked Ned.
"Oh, Koku forgot that he had so much muscle, and he kept on pumping
air into the bicycle wheel tires until he burst one. Go easy this
"I will, Mr. Tom," and the giant took the air pump.
"Is he going along?" asked Ned, as he looked to see that all the guy
wires and stays were tight.
"I guess so," replied Tom. "He makes good ballast. I wish Mr. Damon
was here. If everything goes right we may take a run over, and
In a little while the noiseless airship was ready for the start.
Tom, Ned and Koku climbed in, and took their positions.
"Good luck!" Mr. Swift called after them. Tom waved his hand to his
father, and the next moment his craft shot into the air. Up and up
it went, the great propeller blades beating the air, but, save for a
soft whirr, such as would be made by the wings of a bird, there was
absolutely no sound.
"Hurrah!" cried Tom. "She works! I've got a noiseless airship at
"Say, don't yell at a fellow so," begged Ned, for Tom had been close
to his chum when he made his exulting remark.
"Yell! I wasn't yelling," replied Tom. "Oh, I see what happened. I'm
so used to speaking loud on the other airships, that make such a
racket, that I didn't realize how quiet it was aboard the new
Falcon. No wonder I nearly made you deaf, Ned. I'll be careful after
this," and Tom lowered his voice to ordinary tones. In fact it was
as quiet aboard his new craft, as if he and Ned had been walking in
some grass-grown country lane.
"She certainly is a success," agreed Ned. "You could creep up on
some other airship now, and those aboard would never know you were
"I've been planning this for a long time," went on our hero, as he
shifted the steering gear, and sent the craft around in a long,
sweeping curve. "Now for Waterford and Mr. Damon."
They were soon above the town where the odd man lived, and Tom,
picking out Mr. Damon's house, situated as it was in the midst of
extensive grounds, headed for it.
"There he is, walking through the garden," exclaimed Ned, pointing
to their friend down below. "He hasn't heard us, as he would have
done if we had come in any other machine."
"That's so!" exclaimed Tom. "I'm going to give him a sensation. I'll
fly right over his head, and he won't know it until he sees us. I'll
come up from behind."
A moment later he put this little trick into execution. Along swept
the airship, until, with a rush, it passed right over Mr. Damon's
head. He never heard it, and was not aware of what was happening
until he saw the shadow it cast. Then, jumping aside, as if he
thought something was about to fall on him, he cried:
"Bless my mosquito netting! What in the world--"
Then he saw Tom and Ned in the airship, which came gently to earth a
few yards further on.
"Well of all things!" cried Mr. Damon. "What are you up to now, Tom
"It's my noiseless airship," explained our hero. "She doesn't make a
sound. Get aboard, and have a ride."
Mr. Damon looked toward the house.
"I guess my wife won't see me," he said with a chuckle. "She's more
than ever opposed to airships, Tom, since we went on that trip
taking moving pictures. But I'll take a chance." And in he sprang,
when the two lads started up again. They made quite a flight, and
Tom found that his new motor exceeded his expectations. True, it
needed some adjustments, but these could easily be made.
"Well, what are you going to do with it, now that you have it?"
asked Mr. Damon, as Tom once more brought the machine around to the
odd man's house, and stopped it. "What's it for?"
"Oh, I think I'll find a use for it," replied the young inventor.
"Will you come back to Shopton with us?"
"No, I must stay here. I have some letters to write. But I'll run
over in a few days, and see you. Then I'll go on another trip, if
you've got one planned."
"I may have," answered Tom with a laugh. "Good-bye."
He and Ned made a quick flight home, and Tom at once started on
making some changes in the motor. He was engaged at this work the
next day, when he noticed a shadow pass across an open window. He
looked up to see Ned.
"Hello, Tom!" cried his chum. "Have you heard the news?"
"No, what news? Has Andy Foger fallen out of his airship?"
"No, but there are a whole lot of Custom House detectives in town,
looking for clews to the smugglers."
"Still at it, eh? Shopton can't seem to keep out of the limelight.
Has anything new turned up?"
"Yes. I just met Mr. Whitford. He's back on the case and he has
several men with him. They received word that some smuggled goods
came to Shopton, and were shipped out of here again."
"How, by airship?"
"No, by horse and wagon. A lot of cases of valuable silks imported
from England to Canada, where the duty is light, were slipped over
the border somehow, in airships, it is thought. Then they came here
by freight, labeled as calico, and when they reached this town they
were taken away in a wagon."
"But how did they get here?"
"On the railroad, of course, but the freight people had no reason to
"And where were they taken from the freight station?"
"That's what the customs authorities want to find out. They think
there's some secret place here, where the goods are stored and
reshipped. That's why so many detectives are here. They are after the
Chapter V The Raid
Tom Swift dropped the tool he was using, and came over to where Ned
stood, his chum having vaulted in through the open window.
"Ned," said the young inventor, "there's something queer about this
"I'm beginning to think so myself, Tom. But just what do you mean?"
"I mean it's queer that the smugglers should pick out a place like
Shopton--a small town--for their operations, or part of them, when
there are so many better places. We're quite a distance from the
Canadian border. Say, Ned, where was it that Mr. Foger moved to?
Hogan's alley, or some such name as that; wasn't it?"
"Logansville, this state, was the place. I once saw Tom Snedecker
mail Andy a letter addressed to there. But what has that to do with
Tom's answer was to turn to a large map on the wall of his shop.
With a long stick he pointed out the city of Logansville.
"That isn't very far from the Canadian border; is it, Ned?" he
"Say, what are you driving at, Tom? It's right on the border between
New York and Canada, according to that map."
"Well, that's a good map, and you can be sure it is nearly right.
And, look here. There's the town of Montford, in Canada, almost
"Oh, nothing, only I'm going to see Mr. Whitford."
"What do you mean, Tom?"
"I mean that the something queer part about this business may be
explained. They have traces of the smugglers sending their goods to
Shopton to be re-shipped here, to avoid suspicion, probably. They
have a suspicion that airships are used to get the goods over the
Canadian border at night."
"But," broke in Ned, "the government agent said that it was across
the St. Lawrence River they brought them. Montford is quite a
distance from the river. I suppose the smugglers take the goods from
the river steamers, land them, pack them in airships, and fly across
with them. But if you're trying to connect the Fogers, and
Logansville, and Montford with the smugglers, I don't see where it
comes in with the St. Lawrence, and the airships, Tom."
"Forget that part of it for a while, Ned. Maybe they are all off on
airships, anyhow. I don't take much stock in that theory, though it
may be true."
"Just think of the Fogers," went on Tom. "Mr. Foger has lost all his
money, he lives in a town near the Canadian border, it is almost
certain that smuggled goods have been shipped here. Mr. Foger has a
deserted house here, and--see the connection?"
"By Jove, Tom, I believe you're right!" cried his chum. "Maybe the
airships aren't in it after all, and Andy is only making a bluff at
having his repaired, to cover up some other operations in the
"I believe so."
"But that would mean that Mr. Dillon, the carpenter is not telling
the truth, and I can't believe that of him."
"Oh, I believe he's honest, but I think Andy is fooling him. Mr.
Dillon doesn't know much about airships, and Andy may have had him
doing something in the house, telling him it was repair work on an
airship, when, as a matter of fact, the carpenter might be making
boxes to ship the goods in, or constructing secret places in which
to hide them."
"I don't believe it, Tom. But I agree with you that there is
something queer going on in Shopton. The Fogers may, or may not, be
connected with it. What are you going to do?"
"I'm first going to have a talk with Mr. Whitford. Then I'm going to
see if I can't prove, or disprove, that the Fogers are concerned in
the matter. If they're not, then some one else in Shopton must be
guilty. But I'm interested, because I have been brought into this
thing in a way, and I want it sifted to the bottom."
"Then you're going to see Mr. Whitford?"
"I am, and I'm going to tell him what I think. Come on, we'll look
him up now."
"But your noiseless airship?"
"Oh, that's all right. It's nearly finished anyhow, I've just got a
little more work on the carburetor. That will keep. Come on, we'll
find the government agent."
But Mr. Whitford was not at the hotel where he and the other custom
inspectors had put up. They made no secret of their presence in
Shopton, and all sorts of rumors were flying about regarding them.
Mr. Whitford, the hotel clerk said, had gone out of town for the
day, and, as Ned and Tom did not feel like telling their suspicions
to any of the other agents, they started back home.
"I understand they're going to search every house in Shopton, before
they go away," said the clerk to the boys. "They are going to look
for smuggled goods."
"They are; eh?" exclaimed Colonel Henry Denterby, who had fought in
the Civil War. "Search my house; eh? Well I guess not! A man's house
is his castle, sir! That's what it is. No one shall enter mine, no
matter if he is a government official, unless I give him permission,
sir! And I won't do that, sir! I'll be revolutionized if I do! No,
"Why, you haven't any smuggled goods concealed, have you, Colonel?"
slyly asked a hotel lounger.
"Smuggled goods? What do you mean, sir?" cried the veteran, who was
something of a fire-eater. "No, sir! Of course not, sir! I pay my
taxes, sir; and all my debts. But no government spy is going to come
into my house, and upset everything, sir, looking for smuggled
goods, sir. No, sir!"
Some were of one opinion, and some another, and there was quite a
discussion underway concerning the rights of the custom officers, as
the boys came out of the hotel.
Likewise there was talk about who might be the guilty ones, but no
names were mentioned, at least openly.
"Let's go past the Foger house on our way back," proposed Ned, and
as he and Tom came in front of it, they heard a pounding going on
within, but saw no signs of Andy or the carpenter.
"They're keeping mighty close," commented Tom.
The two boys worked that afternoon on the new airship, and in the
evening, when Ned came over, Tom proposed that they make another
attempt to see Mr. Whitford.
"I want to get this thing off my mind," spoke the young inventor,
and he and his chum started for the hotel. Once more they passed the
Foger house. It was in darkness, but, as the two lads stood
watching, they saw a flash of a light, as if it came through a crack
in a shutter or a shade.
"Some one is in there," declared Tom.
"Yes, probably Andy is getting his own supper. It's queer he wants
to lead that sort of a life. Well, everyone to their notion, as the
old lady said when she kissed the cow."
They stood for a few minutes watching the old mansion, and then went
on. As they passed down a lane, to take a short cut, they approached
a small house, that, in times past, had been occupied by the
gardener of the Foger estate. Now, that too, was closed. But, in
front of it stood a wagon with a big canvass cover over it, and, as
the lads came nearer, the wagon drove off quickly, and in silence.
At the same time a door in the gardener's house was heard to shut
"Did you see that?" cried Ned.
"Yes, and did you hear that?" asked Tom.
"They're carting stuff away from the old gardener's house," went on
Ned. "Maybe it's there that the smugglers are working from! Let's
hurry to see Mr. Whitford."
"Hold on!" exclaimed Tom in a whisper. "I've got one suggestion.
Ned. Let's tell all we know, and what we think may be the case, but
don't make any rash statements. We might be held responsible. Tell
what we have seen, and let the government men do the rest."
"All right. I'm willing."
They watched the wagon as it passed on out of sight in the darkness,
and then hurried on to see Mr. Whitford. To say that the custom
officer was astonished at what the boys related to him, is putting
it mildly. He was much excited.
"I think we're on the right trail!" he exclaimed. "You may have done
a big service for Uncle Sam. Come on!"
"Where?" the boys asked him.
"We'll make a raid on the old Foger home, and on the gardener's
house at once. We may catch the rascals red-handed. You can have the
honor of representing Uncle Sam. I'll make you assistant deputies
for the night. Here are some extra badges I always carry," and he
pinned one each on the two young men.
Mr. Whitford quietly summoned several of his men to his hotel room,
and imparted to them what he had learned. They were eager for the
raid, and it was decided to go to the Foger home, and the other
house at once, first seeking to gain an entrance to the mansion.
Accompanied by Tom and Ned, Mr. Whitford left the hotel. There were
few persons about, and no attention was attracted. The other agents
left the hotel one by one, and in the darkness gathered about the
seemingly deserted mansion.
"Stand ready now, men," whispered Mr. Whitford. "Tom, Ned and I will
go up the steps first, and knock. If they don't let us in I'm going
to smash the door. Then you follow."
Rather excited by what was about to take place, the two chums
accompanied the chief custom agent. He rapped loudly on the door of
the house, where only darkness showed.
There was a moment of silence, and then a voice which Tom and Ned
recognized as that of Andy Foger, asked:
"What do you want?"
"We want to come in," replied Mr. Whitford.
"But who are you?"
"Uncle Sam's officers, from the custom house."
Tom distinctly heard a gasp of surprise on the other side of the
portal, and then a bolt was drawn. The door was thrown back, and
there, confronting the two lads and Mr. Whitford, were Andy Foger
and his father.
Chapter VI The Appeal To Tom
"Well, what does this mean?" asked Mr. Foger in indignant tones, as
he faced the custom officer and Tom and Ned. "What do you mean by
coming to my house at this hour, and disturbing me? I demand an
"And you shall have it," replied Mr. Whitford calmly. He was used to
dealing with "indignant" persons, who got very much on their dignity
when accused of smuggling. "We are here, Mr. Foger, because of
certain information we have received, and we must ask you to submit
to some questions, and allow your house to be searched."
"What! You question me? Search this house? That is an indignity to
which I will not submit!"
"You will have to, Mr. Foger. I have ample authority for what I am
doing, and I am backed by the most powerful government in the world.
I also have plenty of help with me."
Mr. Whitford blew his whistle, and at once his several deputies came
"You see I am well prepared to meet force with force, Mr. Foger,"
said the chief agent, calmly.
"Force! What do you mean, sir?"
"I mean that I have certain information against you. There has been
smuggling going on from Canada into the United States."
"Canada? What have I to do with Canada?"
"You don't live far from there," said Mr. Whitford significantly.
"Airships have been used. Your son has one, but I don't believe that
figured in the game. But two friends of mine saw something to-night
that made me decide on this raid. Tom and Ned, tell Mr. Foger what
The agent stepped back, so that the two lads could be seen. There
was another gasp of surprise, this time from Andy Foger, who had
remained in the background.
"Tom Swift!" gasped the bully.
"Tell them what you saw. Tom," went on the agent, and Tom and Ned by
turns, relayed the incident of the wagon load of goods driving away
from the gardener's house.
"This, with what has gone before, made us suspicious," said Mr.
Whitford. "So we decided on a raid. If you are not willing to let us
in peaceably, we will come by force."
"By all means come in!" was the unexpected reply of Mr. Foger, as he
stepped back, and opened wider the door. "Andy, these are some
friends of yours, are they not?"
"Friends? I guess not!" exclaimed Andy with a sneer. "I won't even
speak to them."
"Not much lost," commented Tom with a laugh.
"Search the house!" ordered Mr. Whitford sharply.
"I'll show you around," offered Mr. Foger.
"We can find our way," was the curt rejoinder of the chief agent.
"The place is deserted," went on Mr. Foger. "My son and I are just
living here until certain repairs are made, when I am going to make
another effort to sell it."
"Yes, we knew it was being repaired, and that your son was staying
here," said Mr. Whitford, "But we did not expect to see you."
"I--er--that is--I came on unexpectedly," said Mr. Foger. "You may
look about all you wish. You will find nothing wrong here."
And they did not, strange to say. There was considerable litter in
many of the rooms, and in one was Andy's airship in parts. Clearly
work was being done on that, and Mr. Dillon's story was confirmed,
for tools, with his initials burned in the handles, were lying
The custom men, with Tom and Ned, went all over the house. Andy
scowled blackly at our hero, but said nothing. Mr. Foger seemed
anxious to show everything, and let the men go where they would.
Finally a tour of the house had been completed, and nothing of a
suspicious nature was found.
"I guess we'll just take a look at the roof, and see that airship
platform your son is going to use," said Mr. Whitford, in rather
disappointed tones, when he had found nothing.
"It isn't started yet," said Andy.
But they all went up through a scuttle, nevertheless, and saw where
some posts had been made fast to the roof, to provide a platform
"I'll beat you all to pieces when I get flying," said the bully to
Tom, as they went down the scuttle again.
"I'm not in the racing game any more," replied Tom coldly. "Besides
I only race with my friends."
"Huh! Afraid of getting beat!" sneered Andy.
"Well. I guess there's nothing here," said Mr. Whitford to Mr.
Foger, as they stood together in the front room.
"No, I knew you'd find nothing, and you have had your trouble for
"Oh, Uncle Sam doesn't mind trouble."
"And you have caused me much annoyance!" said Mr. Foger sharply.
"I'm afraid we'll have to cause you more," was the agent's comment.
"I want to have a look in the gardener's house, from where Tom Swift
saw the load going away."
"There is nothing there!" declared Mr. Foger quickly. "That is,
nothing but some old furniture. I sold a lot of it, and I suppose
the man who bought it came for it to-night."
"We'll take a look," repeated the agent, "I am very fond of old
"Very well," responded the bully's father, as he eyed Tom and Ned
He led the way out of the house, and soon they stood before the
small cottage. It was dark, and when Mr. Foger unlocked the door he
turned on the gas, and lighted it.
"I left the gas on until all the furniture should be taken out," he
explained. "But you will find nothing here."
It needed but a glance about the place to show that only some odds
and ends of furniture was all that it contained.
"Where does this door lead to," asked Mr. Whitford, when he had made
a tour of the place.
"Nowhere. Oh, that is only down into the cellar." was the reply.
"There is nothing there."
"We can't take anything for granted," went on the agent with a
smile. "I'll take a look down there."
He descended with some of his men. Tom and Ned remained in the
kitchen of the cottage, while Andy and his father conversed in low
tones, occasionally casting glances at our heroes. Once Tom thought
Mr. Foger looked apprehensively toward the door, through which the
custom men had descended. He also appeared to be anxiously
But when Mr. Whitford came back, with a disappointed look on his
face, and said there was nothing to be found, Mr. Foger smiled:
"What did I tell you?" he asked triumphantly.
"Never mind," was the retort of Uncle Sam's man. "We are not through
with Shopton yet."
"I'm sorry we gave you so much trouble on a false clew," said Tom,
as he and Ned left the Foger premises with Mr. Whitford, the other
"That's all right, Tom. We have to follow many false clews. I'm much
obliged to you. Either we were on the wrong track, or the Fogers are
more clever than I gave them credit for. But I am not done yet. I
have something to propose to you. It has come to me in the last few
minutes. I saw you in your airship once, and I know you know how to
manage such craft. Now there is no question in my mind but what the
smugglers are using airships. Tom, will you undertake a mission for
"What do you mean?"
"I mean will you go to the border, in your airship, and try to catch
the smugglers? I can promise you a big reward, and much fame if we
catch them. An airship is just what is needed. You are the one to do
it. Will you?"
Chapter VII A Searchlight Is Needed
For a few moments after the custom officer had made his appeal, Tom
Swift did not reply. His thoughts were busy with many things.
Somehow, it seemed of late, there had been many demands on him,
demands that had been hard and trying.
In the past he had not hesitated, but in those cases friendship, as
well as a desire for adventures, had urged him. Now he thought he
had had his fill of adventures.
"Well?" asked Mr. Whitford, gently. "What's your answer, Tom? Don't
you think this is a sort of duty-call to you?"
"A duty-call?" repeated the young inventor.
"Yes. Of course I realize that it isn't like a soldier's call to
battle, but Uncle Sam needs you just the same. When there is a war
the soldiers are called on to repel an enemy. Now the smugglers are
just as much an enemy of the United States, in a certain way, as an
armed invader would be."
"One strikes at the life and liberty of the people, while the
smugglers try to cheat Uncle Sam out of money that is due him. I'm
not going to enter into a discussion as to the right of the
government to impose duties. People have their own opinion as to
that. But, as long as the law says certain duties are to be
collected, it is the duty of every citizen, not only to pay those
dues, but to help collect them. That's what I'm asking you to do,
"I don't want to get prosy, or deliver a lecture on the work of the
custom house, Tom, but, honestly, I think it is a duty you owe to
your country to help catch these smugglers. I admit I'm at the end
of my rope. This last clew has failed. The Fogers seem to be
innocent of wrong doing. We need your help, Tom."
"But I don't see how I can help you."
"Of course you can! You're an expert with airships. The smugglers
are using airships, of that I'm sure. You tell me you have just
perfected a noiseless aircraft. That will be just the thing. You can
hover on the border, near the line dividing New York State from
Canada, or near the St. Lawrence, which is the natural division for
a certain distance, and when you see an airship coming along you can
slip up in your noiseless one, overhaul it, and make them submit to
"But I won't have any authority to do that," objected Tom, who
really did not care for the commission.
"Oh, I'll see that you get the proper authority all right," said Mr.
Whitford significantly. "I made you a temporary deputy to-night, but
if you'll undertake this work, to catch the smugglers in their
airships, you will be made a regular custom official."
"Yes, but supposing I can't catch them?" interposed our hero. "They
may have very fast airships, and--"
"I guess you'll catch 'em all right!" put in Ned, who was at his
chum's side as they walked along a quiet Shopton street in the
darkness. "There's not an aeroplane going that can beat yours, Tom."
"Well, perhaps I could get them," admitted the young inventor. "But--"
"Then you'll undertake this work for Uncle Sam?" interrupted Mr.
Whitford eagerly. "Come, Tom, I know you will."
"I'm not so sure of that," spoke Tom. "It isn't going to be as easy
as you think. There are many difficulties in the way. In the first
place the smuggling may be done over such a wide area that it would
need a whole fleet of airships to capture even one of the others,
for they might choose a most unfrequented place to cross the
"Oh, we would be in communication with you," said the agent. "We can
come pretty near telling where the contrabrand goods will be shipped
from, but the trouble is, after we get our tips, we can't get to the
place before they have flown away. But with your airship, you could
catch them, after we sent you, say a wireless message, about where
to look for them. So that's no objection. You have a wireless outfit
on your airships, haven't you, Tom?"
"Yes, that part is all right."
"Then you can't have any more objections, Tom."
"Well, there are some. For instance you say most of this smuggling
is done at night."
"Practically all of it, yes."
"Well, it isn't going to be easy to pick out a contraband airship in
the dark, and chase it. But I'll tell you what I'll do, Mr.
Whitford, I feel as if I had sort of 'fallen down' on this clew
business, as the newspaper men say, and I owe it to you to make good
in some way."
"That's what I want--not that I think you haven't done all you
could," interposed the agent.
"Well, if I can figure out some way, by which I think I can come
anywhere near catching these smugglers, I'll undertake the work!"
exclaimed Tom. "I'll do it as a duty to Uncle Sam, and I don't want
any reward except my expenses. It's going to cost considerable, but--"
"Don't mind the expense!" interrupted Mr. Whitford. "Uncle Sam will
stand that. Why, the government is losing thousands of dollars every
week. It's a big leak, and must be stopped, and you're the one to
stop it, Tom."
"Well, I'll try. I'll see you in a couple of days, and let you know
if I have formed any plan. Now come on, Ned. I'm tired and want to
get to bed."
"So do I," added the agent. "I'll call on you day after to-morrow,
Tom, and I expect you to get right on the job," he added with a
"Have you any idea what you are going to do, Tom?" asked his chum,
as they turned toward their houses.
"Not exactly. If I go I'll use my noiseless airship. That will come
in handy. But this night business rather stumps me. I don't quite
see my way to get around that. Of course I could use an ordinary
searchlight, but that doesn't give a bright enough beam, or carry
far enough. It's going to be quite a problem and I've got to think
"Queer about the Fogers; wasn't it, Tom?"
"Yes, I didn't think they were going to let us in."
"There's something going on there, in spite of the fact that they
were willing for an inspection to be made," went on Ned.
"I agree with you. I thought it was funny the way Mr. Foger acted
about not wanting the men to go down in the cellar."
"So did I, and yet when they got down there they didn't find
"That's so. Well, maybe we're on the wrong track, after all. But I'm
going to keep my eyes open. I don't see what Andy wants with an
airship platform on the roof of his house. The ground is good enough
to start from and land on."
"I should think so, too. But then Andy always did like to show off,
and do things different from anybody else. Maybe it's that way now."
"Perhaps," agreed Tom. "Well, here's your house, Ned. Come over in
the morning," and, with a good-night, our hero left his chum,
proceeding on toward his own home.
"Why, Koku, haven't you gone to bed yet?" asked the young inventor,
as, mounting the side steps, he saw his giant servant sitting there
on a bench he had made especially for his own use, as ordinary
chairs were not substantial enough. "What is the matter?"
"Nothing happen yet," spoke Koku significantly, "but maybe he come
pretty soon, and then I get him."
"Get who, Koku?" asked Tom, with quick suspicion.
"I do not know, but Eradicate say he hear someone sneaking around
his chicken coop, and I think maybe it be same man who was here once
"Oh, you mean the rivals, who were trying to get my moving picture
"That's what!" exclaimed Koku.
"Hum!" mused Tom. "I must be on the look-out. I'll tell you what
I'll do, Koku. I'll set my automatic camera to take the moving
pictures of any one who tries to get in my shop, or in the chicken
coop. I'll also set the burglar alarm. But you may also stay on the
watch, and if anything happens--"
"If anything happens, I will un-happen him!" exclaimed the giant,
brandishing a big club he had beside him.
"All right," laughed Tom. "I'm sleepy, and I'm going to bed, but
I'll set the automatic camera, and fix it with fuse flashlights, so
they will go off if the locks are even touched."
This Tom did, fixing up the wizard camera, which I have told you
about in the book bearing that title. It would take moving pictures
automatically, once Tom had set the mechanism to unreel the films
back of the shutter and lens. The lights would instantly flash, when
the electrical connections on the door locks were tampered with, and
the pictures would be taken.
Then Tom set the burglar alarm, and, before going to bed he focused
a searchlight, from one of his airships, on the shed and chicken
coop, fastening it outside his room window.
"There!" he exclaimed, as he got ready to turn in, not having
awakened the rest of the household, "when the burglar alarm goes
off, if it does, it will also start the searchlight, and I'll get a
view of who the chicken thief is. I'll also get some pictures."
Then, thinking over the events of the evening, and wondering if he
would succeed in his fight with the smugglers, providing he
undertook it, Tom fell asleep.
It must have been some time after midnight that he was awakened by
the violent ringing of a bell at his ear. At first he thought it was
the call to breakfast, and he leaped from bed crying out:
"Yes, Mrs. Baggert, I'm coming!"
A moment later he realized what it was.
"The burglar alarm!" he cried. "Koku, are you there? Someone is
trying to get into the chicken coop!" for a glance at the automatic
indicator, in connection with the alarm, had shown Tom that the
henhouse, and not his shop, had been the object of attack.
"I here!" cried Koku, "I got him!"
A series of startled cries bore eloquent testimony to this.
"I'm coming!" cried Tom. And then he saw a wonderful sight. The
whole garden, his shop, the henhouse and all the surrounding
territory was lighted up with a radiance almost like daylight. The
beams of illumination came from the searchlight Tom had fixed
outside his window, but never before had the lantern given such a
"That's wonderful!" cried Tom, as he ran to examine it. "What has
happened? I never had such a powerful beam before. There must be
something that I have stumbled on by accident. Say, that is a light
all right! Why it goes for miles and miles, and I never projected a
beam as far as this before."
As Tom looked into a circle of violet-colored glass set in the side
cf the small searchlight, to see what had caused the extraordinary
glow, he could observe nothing out of the ordinary. The violet glass
was to protect the eyes from the glare.
"It must be that, by accident, I made some new connection at the
dynamo," murmured Tom.
"Hi! Lemme go! Lemme go, Massa giant! I ain't done nuffin'!" yelled
"I got you!" cried Koku.
"It's an ordinary chicken thief this time I guess," said Tom. "But
this light--this great searchlight--"
Then a sudden thought came to him.
"By Jove!" he cried. "If I can find out the secret of how I happened
to project such a beam, it will be the very thing to focus on the
smugglers from my noiseless airship! That's what I need--a
searchlight such as never before has been made--a terrifically
powerful one. And I've got it, if I can only find out just how it
happened. I've got to look before the current dies out."
Leaving the brilliant beams on in full blast, Tom ran down the
stairs to get to his shop, from which the electrical power came.
Chapter VIII Tom's Newest Invention
"I got him, Mr. Tom!"
"Oh, please, good Massa Swift! Make him leggo me! He suah am
squeezin' de liber outer me!"
"Shall I conflict the club upon him, Mr. Tom?"
It was Koku who asked this last question, as Tom came running toward
the giant. In the strange glare from the searchlight, the young
inventor saw his big servant holding tightly to a rather small,
colored man, while the camera, which was focused full on them, was
clicking away at a great rate, taking picture after picture on the
roll of films.
"No, don't inflict nor conflict the club on him, Koku,"
advised Tom. "Who is he?"
"I don't know, Mr. Tom. I was in hiding, in the darkness, waiting
for him to come back. He had been here once before in the evening,
Eradicate says. Well, he came while I was waiting and I detained
him. Then the lights went up. They are very bright lights, Mr. Tom."
"Yes, brighter than I expected they would be. I must look and see
what causes it. So you detained him, did you, Koku?"
"Yes, and what exposition shall I make of him?"
"What disposition?" corrected Tom, with a laugh. "Well, did he get
any chickens, Koku?"
"Oh, no, I was too tight for him."
"Oh, you mean too fast, or quick. Well, if he didn't get any, I
guess you might let him go. I have too much to attend to, to bother
"Oh, bress yo' for dat, Massa Tom!" cried the negro, whom Tom
recognized as a worthless character about the town. "I didn't go fo'
to do nuffin', Massa Tom. I were jest goin' t' look in de coop, t'
count an' see how many fowls mah friend Eradicate had, an' den--"
"Yes, and then I tie you!" broke in Koku.
"You collared him, I guess you mean to say," spoke Tom with a laugh.
"Well, I guess, Sam," speaking to the negro, "if you had counted
Rad's chickens he couldn't have counted as many in the morning. But
be off, and don't come around again, or you might have to count the
bars in a jail cell for a change."
"Bress yo' honey. I won't neber come back."
"Shall release him?" asked Koku doubtfully.
"Yes," said Tom.
"And not reflict the club on him?"
The giant raised his club longingly.
"Oh, Massa Tom, protect me!" cried Sam.
"No, don't even reflect the club on him," advised the young inventor
with a laugh. "He hasn't done any harm, and he may have been the
means of a great discovery. Remember Sam," Tom went on sternly, "I
have your picture, as you were trying to break into the coop, and if
you come around again, I'll use it as evidence against you."
"Oh, I won't come. Not as long as dat giant am heah, anyhow," said
the negro earnestly. "Besides, I were only goin' t' count
Eradicate's chickens, t' see ef he had as many as I got."
"All right," responded Tom. "Now, Koku, you may escort him off the
premises, and be on the lookout the rest of the night, off and on.
"He has what he says is 'de misery' in his back so that he had to go
to bed," explained the giant, to account for the faithful colored
man not having responded to the alarm.
"All right, get rid of Sam, and then come back."
As Tom turned to go in his shop he saw his aged father coming slowly
toward him. Mr. Swift had hastily dressed.
"What is the matter, Tom?" he asked. "Has anything happened? I heard
your alarm go off, and I came as quickly as I could."
"Nothing much has happened, father, excepting a chicken thief. But
something great may come of it. Do you notice that searchlight, and
how powerful it is?"
"I do, Tom. I never knew you had one as big as that."
"Neither did I, and I haven't, really. That's one of my smallest
ones, but something seems to have happened to it to make it throw
out a beam like that. I'm just going to look. Come on in the shop."
The two inventors, young and old, entered, and Tom quickly crossed
to where the wires from the automatic dynamo, extended to the
searchlight outside the window of his room. He made a quick
"Look, father!" he cried. "The alternating current from the
automatic dynamo has become crossed with direct current from the big
storage battery in a funny way. It must have been by accident, for
never in the world would I think of connecting up in that fashion. I
would have said it would have made a short circuit at once."
"But it hasn't. On the contrary, it has given a current of peculiar
strength and intensity--a current that would seem to be made
especially for searchlights. Dad, I'm on the edge of a big
"I believe you, Tom," said his father. "That certainly is a queer
way for wires to be connected. How do you account for it?"
"I can't. That is unless some one meddled with the connections after
I made them. That must be it. I'll ask Rad and Koku." Just then the
giant came in. "Koku, did you touch the wires?" asked Tom.
"Well, Mr. Tom, I didn't mean to. I accidentally pulled one out a
while ago, when I was waiting for the thief to come, but I put it
right back again. I hope I did no damage."
"No, on the contrary, you did a fine thing, Koku. I never would have
dared make such connections myself, but you, not knowing any better,
did just the right thing to make an almost perfect searchlight
current. It is wonderful! Probably for any other purpose such a
current would be useless, but it is just the thing for a great
"And why do you need such a powerful light, Tom?" asked Mr. Swift.
"Why, it is of extraordinary brilliancy, and it goes for several
miles. Look how plainly you can pick out the trees on Nob's Hill,"
and he pointed to an elevation some distance away from the Swift
homestead, across the woods and meadows.
"I believe I could see a bird perched there, if there was one!"
exclaimed Tom enthusiastically. "That certainly is a wonderful
light. With larger carbons, better parobolic mirrors, a different
resistance box, better connections, and a more powerful primary
current there is no reason why I could not get a light that would
make objects more plainly visible than in the daytime, even in the
darkest night, and at a great distance."
"But what would be the object of such a light, Tom?"
"To play upon the smugglers, dad, and catch them as they come over
the border in the airship."
"Smugglers, Tom! You don't mean to tell me you are going away again,
and after smugglers?"
"Well, dad, I've had an offer, and I think I'll take it. There's no
money in it, but I think it is my duty to do my best for Uncle Sam.
The one thing that bothered me was how to get a view of the airship
at night. This searchlight has solved the problem--that is if I can
make a permanent invention of this accident, and I think I can."
"Oh, Tom, I hate to think of you going away from home again," said
his father a bit sadly.
"Don't worry, father. I'm not going far this time. Only to the
Canadian border, and that's only a few hundred miles. But I want to
see if I can cut the current off, and turn it on again. When a thing
happens by accident you never know whether you can get just exactly
the same conditions again."
Tom shut off the current from the dynamo, and the powerful beam of
light died out. Then he turned it on once more, and it glowed as
brightly as before. He did this several times, and each time it was
"Hurrah!" cried Tom. "To-morrow I'll start on my latest invention, a
Chapter IX "Beware Of the Comet!"
"Well, Tom, what are you up to now?"
Ned Newton peered in the window of the shop at his chum, who was
busy over a bench.
"This is my latest invention, Ned. Come on in."
"Looks as though you were going to give a magic lantern show. Or is
it for some new kinds of moving pictures? Say, do you remember the
time we gave a show in the barn, and charged a nickel to come in?
You were the clown, and--"
"I was not! You were the clown. I was part of the elephant. The
front end, I think."
"Oh. so you were. I'm thinking of another one. But what are you up
to now? Is it a big magic lantern?"
Ned came over toward the bench, in front of which Tom stood, fitting
together sheets of heavy brass in the form of a big square box. In
one side there was a circular opening, and there were various wheels
and levers on the different sides and on top. The interior contained
parobolic curved mirrors.
"It's a sort of a lantern, and I hope it's going to do some magic
work," explained Tom with a smile. "But it isn't the kind of magic
lantern you mean. It won't throw pictures on a screen, but it may
show some surprising pictures to us--that is if you come along, and
I think you will."
"Talking riddles; eh?" laughed Ned. "What's the answer?"
"I thought you were talking about a lantern."
"So I am, and it's the lantern that's going to show up the
smugglers, so you can call it a smuggler's magic lantern if you
"Then you're going after them?"
This conversation took place several days after the raid on the
Foger house, and after Tom's accidental discovery of how to make a
new kind of searchlight. In the meantime he had not seen Ned, who
had been away on a visit.
"Yes, I've made up my mind to help Uncle Sam," spoke Tom, "and this
is one of the things I'll need in my work. It's going to be the most
powerful searchlight ever made--that is, I never heard of any
portable electric lights that will beat it."
"What do you mean, Tom?"
"I mean that I'm inventing a new kind of searchlight, Ned. One that
I can carry with me on my new noiseless airship, and one that will
give a beam of light that will be visible for several miles, and
which will make objects in its focus as plain as if viewed by
"And it's to show up the smugglers?"
"That's what. That is it will if we can get on the track of them."
"But what did you mean when you said it would be the most powerful
portable light ever made."
"Just what I said. I've got to carry this searchlight on an airship
with me, and, in consequence, it can't be very heavy. Of course
there are stationary searchlights, such lights as are in
lighthouses, that could beat mine all to pieces for candle power,
and for long distance visibility. But they are the only ones."
"That's the way to do things, Tom! Say, I'm going with you all right
after those smugglers. But where are some of those powerful
stationary searchlights you speak of?"
"Oh, there are lots of them. One was in the Eiffel Tower, during the
Paris Exposition. I didn't see that, but I have read about it.
Another is in one of the twin lighthouses at the Highlands, on the
Atlantic coast of New Jersey, just above Asbury Park. That light is
of ninety-five million candle power, and the lighthouse keeper there
told me it was visible, on a clear night, as far as the New Haven,
Connecticut, lighthouse, a distance of fifty miles."
"Fifty miles! That's some light!" gasped Ned.
"Well, you must remember that the Highlands light is up on a very
high hill, and the tower is also high, so there is quite an
elevation, and then think of ninety-five million candle power--think
"I can't!" cried Ned. "It gives me a head-ache."
"Well, of course I'm not going to try to beat that," went on Tom
with a laugh, "but I am going to have a very powerful light." And he
then related how he had accidently discovered a new way to connect
the wires, so as to get, from a dynamo and a storage battery a much
stronger, and different, current than usual.
"I'm making the searchlight now," Tom continued, "and soon I'll be
ready to put in the lens, and the carbons."
"And then what?"
"Then I'm going to attach it to my noiseless airship, and we'll have
a night flight. It may work, and it may not. If it does, I think
we'll have some astonishing results."
"I think we will, Tom. Can I do anything to help you?"
"Yes, file some of the rough edges off these sheets of brass, if you
will. There's an old pair of gloves to put on to protect your hands,
otherwise you'll be almost sure to cut 'em, when the file slips.
That brass is extra hard."
The two boys were soon working away, and were busy over the big
lantern when Mr. Whitford came along. Koku was, as usual, on guard
at the outer door of the shop, but he knew the custom officer, and
at once admitted him.
"Well, Tom, how you coming on?" he asked.
"Pretty good. I think I've got just what I want. A powerful light
for night work."
"That's good. You'll need it. They've got so they only smuggle the
goods over in the night now. How soon do you think you'll be able to
get on the border for Uncle Sam?"
"Why, is there any great rush?" asked Tom, as he noticed a look of
annoyance pass over the agent's face.
"Yes, the smugglers have been hitting us pretty hard lately. My
superiors are after me to do something, but I can't seem to do it.
My men are working hard, but we can't catch the rascals."
"You see, Tom, they've stopped, temporarily, bringing goods over the
St. Lawrence. They're working now in the neighborhood of Huntington,
Canada, and the dividing line between the British possessions and
New York State, runs along solid ground there. It's a wild and
desolate part of country, too, and I haven't many men up there."
"Don't the Canadian custom officers help?" asked Ned.
"Well, they haven't been of any aid to us so far," was the answer.
"No doubt they are trying, but it's hard to get an airship at night
when you're on the ground, and can't even see it."
"How did they come to use airships?" asked Tom.
"Well, it was because we were too sharp after them when they tried
to run things across the line afoot, or by wagons," replied the
agent. "You must know that in every principal city, at or near the
border line, there is a custom house. Goods brought from Canada to
the United States must pass through there and pay a duty."
"Of course if lawless people try to evade the duty they don't go
near the custom house. But there are inspectors stationed at the
principal roads leading from the Dominion into Uncle Sam's
territory, and they are always on the lookout. They patrol the line,
sometimes through a dense wilderness, and again over a desolate
plain, always on the watch. If they see persons crossing the line
they stop them and examine what they have. If there is nothing
dutiable they are allowed to pass. If they have goods on which there
is a tax, they either have to pay or surrender the goods."
"But don't the smugglers slip over in spite of all the precautions?"
asked Ned. "Say at some lonely ravine, or stretch of woods?"
"I suppose they do, occasionally," replied Mr. Whitford. "Yet the
fact that they never can tell when one of the inspectors or deputies
is coming along, acts as a stop. You see the border line is divided
up into stretches of different lengths. A certain man, or men, are
held responsible for each division. They must see that no smugglers
pass. That makes them on the alert."
"Why, take it out west, I have a friend who told me that he often
travels hundreds of miles on horseback, with pack ponies carrying
his camping outfit, patroling the border on the lookout for
"In fact Uncle Sam has made it so hard for the ordinary smuggler to
do business on foot or by wagon, that these fellows have taken to
airships. And it is practically impossible for an inspector
patroling the border to be on the lookout for the craft of the air.
Even if they saw them, what could they do? It would be out of the
question to stop them. That's why we need some one with a proper
machine who can chase after them, who can sail through the air, and
give them a fight in the clouds if they have to."
"Our custom houses on the ground, and our inspectors on horse back,
traveling along the border, can't meet the issue. We're depending on
you, Tom Swift, and I hope you don't disappoint us."
"Well," spoke Tom, when Mr. Whitford had finished. "I'll do my best
for you. It won't take very long to complete my searchlight, and
then I'll give it a trial. My airship is ready for service, and once
I find we're all right I'll start for the border."
"Good! And I hope you'll catch the rascals!" fervently exclaimed the
custom official. "Well, Tom, I'm leaving it all to you. Here are some
reports from my deputies. I'll leave them with you, and you can look
them over, and map out a campaign. When you are ready to start I'll
see you again, and give you any last news I have. I'll also arrange so
that you can communicate with me, or some of my men."
"Have you given up all suspicion of the Fogers?" asked the young
"Yes. But I still think Shopton is somehow involved in the custom
violations. I'm going to put one of my best men on the ground here,
and go to the border myself."
"Well, I'll be ready to start in a few days," said Tom, as the
government agent departed.
For the next week our hero and his chum were busy completing work on
the great searchlight, and in attaching it to the airship. Koku
helped them, but little of the plans, or of the use to which the big
lantern was to be put, were made known to him, for Koku liked to
talk, and Tom did not want his project to become known.
"Well, we'll give her a trial to-night," said Tom one afternoon,
following a day of hard work. "We'll go up, and flash the light
"Just us two. You can manage the ship, and I'll look after the
So it was arranged, and after supper Tom and his chum, having told
Mr. Swift were they were going, slipped out to the airship shed, and
soon were ready to make an ascent. The big lantern was fastened to a
shaft that extended above the main cabin. The shaft was hollow and
through it came the wires that carried the current. Tom, from the
cabin below, could move the lantern in any direction, and focus it
on any spot he pleased. By means of a toggle joint, combined with
what are known as "lazy-tongs," the lantern could be projected over
the side of the aircraft and be made to gleam on the earth, directly
below the ship.
For his new enterprise Tom used the Falcon in which he had gone to
Siberia after the platinum. The new noiseless motor had been
installed in this craft.
"All ready, Ned?" asked Tom after an inspection of the searchlight.
"All ready, as far as I'm concerned, Tom."
"Then let her go!"
Like a bird of the night, the great aeroplane shot into the air,
and, with scarcely a sound that could be heard ten feet away, she
moved forward at great speed.
"What are you going to do first?" asked Ned.
"Fly around a bit, and then come back over my house. I'm going to
try the lantern on that first, and see what I can make out from a
couple of miles up in the air."
Up and up went the Falcon, silently and powerfully, until the
barograph registered nearly fourteen thousand feet.
"This is high enough." spoke Tom.
He shifted a lever that brought the searchlight into focus on
Shopton, which lay below them. Then, turning on the current, a
powerful beam of light gleamed out amid the blackness.
"Jove! That's great!" cried Ned. "It's like a shaft of daylight!"
"That's what I intended it to be!" cried Tom in delight.
With another shifting of the lever he brought the light around so
that it began to pick up different buildings in the town.
"There's the church!" cried Ned. "It's as plain as day, in that
"And there's the railroad depot," added Tom.
"And Andy Foger's house!"
"Yes, and there's my house!" exclaimed Tom a moment later, as the
beam rested on his residence and shops. "Say, it's plainer than I
thought it would be. Hold me here a minute, Ned."
Ned shut off the power from the propellers, and the airship was
stationary. Tom took a pair of binoculars, and looked through them
at his home in the focus of light.
"I can count the bricks in the chimney!" he cried in eagerness at
the success of his great searchlight. "It's even better than I
thought it was! Let's go down, Ned."
Slowly the airship sank. Tom played his light all about, picking up
building after building, and one familiar spot after another.
Finally he brought the beam on his own residence again, when not far
Suddenly there arose a weird cry. Tom and Ned knew at once that it
"A comet! A comet!" yelled the colored man. "De end ob de world am
comin'! Run, chillens, run! Beware ob de comet!"
"Eradicate's afraid!" cried Tom with a laugh.
"Oh good mistah comet! Doan't take me!" went on the colored man. "I
ain't neber done nuffin', an' mah mule Boomerang ain't needer. But
ef yo' has t' take somebody, take Boomerang!"
"Keep quiet, Rad! It's all right!" cried Tom. But the colored man
continued to shout in fear.
Then, as the two boys looked on, and as the airship came nearer to
the earth, Ned, who was looking down amid the great illumination,
called to Tom:
"Look at Koku!"
Tom glanced over, and saw his giant servant, with fear depicted on
his face, running away as fast as he could. Evidently Eradicate's
warning had frightened him.
"Say, he can run!" cried Ned. "Look at him leg it!"
"Yes, and he may run away, never to come back," exclaimed Tom. "I
don't want to lose him, he's too valuable. I know what happened once
when he got frightened. He was away for a week before I could locate
him, and he hid in the swamp. I'm not going to have that happen
"What are you going to do?"
"I'm going to chase after him in the airship. It will be a good test
for chasing the smugglers. Put me after him, Ned, and I'll play the
searchlight on him so we can't lose him!"
Chapter X Off For the Border
"There he goes, Tom!"
"Yes, I see him!"
"Look at him run!"
"No wonder. Consider his long legs, Ned. Put on a little more speed,
and keep a little lower down. It's clear of trees right here."
"There he goes into that clump of bushes."
"I see him. He'll soon come out," and Tom flashed the big light on
the fleeing giant to whom fear seemed to lend more than wings.
But even a giant, long legged though he be, and powerful, cannot
compete with a modern airship--certainly not such a one as Tom Swift
"We're almost up to him, Tom!" cried Ned a little later.
"Yes! I'm keeping track of him. Oh, why doesn't he know enough to
stop? Koku! Koku!" called Tom. "It's all right! I'm in the airship!
This is a searchlight, not a comet. Wait for us!"
They could see the giant glance back over his shoulder at them, and,
when he saw how close the gleaming light was he made a desperate
spurt. But it was about his last, for he was a heavy man, and did
not have any too good wind.
"We'll have him in another minute," predicted Tom. "Give me a bit
more speed, Ned."
The lad who was managing the Falcon swung the accelerating lever
over another notch, and the craft surged ahead. Then Ned executed a
neat trick. Swinging the craft around in a half circle, he suddenly
opened the power full, and so got ahead of Koku. The next minute,
sliding down to earth, Tom and Ned came to a halt, awaiting the
oncoming of Koku, who, finding the glaring light full in his face,
came to a halt.
"Why, Koku, what's the matter?" asked Tom kindly, as he turned off
the powerful beams, and switched on some ordinary incandescents,
that were on the outside of the craft. They made an illumination by
which the giant could make out his master and the latter's chum.
"Why did you run, Koku?" asked Tom.
"Eradicate say to," was the simple answer. "He say comet come to eat
up earth. Koku no want to be eaten."
"Eradicate is a big baby!" exclaimed Tom. "See, there is no danger.
It is only my new searchlight," and once more the young inventor
switched it on. Koku jumped back, but when he saw that nothing
happened he did not run.
"It's harmless," said Tom, and briefly he explained how the big
Koku was reassured now, and consented to enter the airship. He was
rather tired from his run, and was glad to sit down.
"Where to now; back home?" asked Ned, as they made ready to start.
"No, I was thinking of going over to Mr. Damon's house. I'd like him
to see my searchlight. And I want to find out if he's going with us
on the trip to the border."
"Of course he will!" predicted Ned. "He hasn't missed a trip with you
in a long while. He'll go if his wife will let him," and both boys
laughed, for Mr. Damon's wife was nearly always willing to let him do
as he liked, though the odd man had an idea that she was violently
opposed to his trips.
Once more the Falcon went aloft, and again the searchlight played
about. It brought out with startling distinctness the details of the
towns and villages over which they passed, and distant landmarks
were also made plainly visible.
"We'll be there in a few minutes now," said Tom, as he flashed the
light on a long slant toward the town of Waterford, where Mr. Damon
"I can see his house," spoke Ned a moment later. He changed the
course of the craft, to bring it to a stop in the yard of the
eccentric man, and, shortly afterward, they landed. Tom who had shut
off the searchlight for a minute, turned it on again, and the house
and grounds of Mr. Damon were enveloped in a wonderful glow.
"That will bring him out," predicted Tom.
A moment later they heard his voice.
"Bless my astronomy!" cried Mr. Damon. "There's a meteor fallen in
our yard. Come out, wife--everybody--call the servants. It's a
chance of a lifetime to see one, and they're valuable, too! Bless my
star dust! I must tell Tom Swift of this!"
Out into the glare of the great searchlight ran Mr. Damon, followed
by his wife and several of the servants.
"There it is!" cried the odd man. "There's the meteor!"
"First we're a comet and then we're a meteor," said Ned with a
"Oh. I hope it doesn't bury itself in the earth before I can get Tom
Swift here!" went on Mr. Damon, capering about. "Bless my telephone
book. I must call him up right away!"
"I'm here now, Mr. Damon!" shouted Tom, as he alighted from the
airship. "That's my new searchlight you're looking at."
"Bless my--" began Mr. Damon, but he couldn't think of nothing
strong enough for a moment, until he blurted out "dynamite
cartridge! Bless my dynamite cartridge! Tom Swift! His searchlight!
Bless my nitro-glycerine!"
Then Tom shut off the glare, and, as Mr. Damon and his wife came
aboard he showed them how the light worked. He only used a part of
the current, as he knew if he put on the full glare toward Mr.
Damon's house, neighbors might think it was on fire.
"Well, that's certainly wonderful," said Mrs. Damon. "In fact this
is a wonderful ship."
"Can't you take Mrs. Damon about, and show her how it works," said
Mr. Damon suddenly. "Show her the ship."
"I will," volunteered Tom.
"No, let Ned," said the eccentric man. "I--er--I want to speak to
Mrs. Damon, with a queer glance at her husband, accompanied Ned to
the motor room. As soon as she was out of hearing the odd gentleman
came over and whispered to the young inventor.
"I say, Tom, what's up?"
"Smugglers. You know. I told you about 'em. I'm going after 'em with
my big searchlight."
"Bless my card case! So you did. But, I say, Tom, I--I want to go!"
"I supposed you would. Well, you're welcome, of course. We leave in
a few days. It isn't a very long trip this time, but there may be
plenty of excitement. Then I'll book you for a passage, and--"
"Hush! Not another word! Here she comes, Tom. My wife! Don't breathe
a syllable of it to her. She'll never let me go." Then, for the
benefit of Mrs. Damon, who came back into the main cabin with Ned at
that moment, her husband added in loud tones:
"Yes, Tom it certainly is a wonderful invention. I congratulate
you," and, at the same time he winked rapidly at our hero. Tom
winked in return.
"Well, I guess we'll start back," remarked Tom, after a bit. "I'll
see you again, I suppose, Mr. Damon?"
"Oh yes, of course. I'll be over--soon," and once more he winked as
he whispered in Tom's ear: "Don't leave me behind, my boy."
"I won't," whispered the young inventor in answer.
Mrs. Damon smiled, and Tom wondered if she had discovered her
husband's innocent secret.
Tom and Ned, with Koku, made a quick trip back to Shopton, using the
great searchlight part of the way. The next day they began
preparations for the journey to the border.
It did not take long to get ready. No great amount of stores or
supplies need be taken along, as they would not be far from home,
not more than a two days' journey at any time. And they would be
near large cities, where food and gasolene could easily be obtained.
About a week later, therefore, Mr. Whitford the government agent,
having been communicated with in the meanwhile, Tom and Ned, with
Koku and Mr. Damon were ready to start.
"I wonder if Mr. Whitford is coming to see us off?" mused Tom, as he
looked to see if everything was aboard, and made sure that the
searchlight was well protected by its waterproof cover.
"He said he'd be here," spoke Ned.
"Well, it's past time now. I don't know whether to start, or to
"Wait a few minutes more," advised Ned. "His train may be a few
minutes behind time."
They waited half an hour, and Tom was on the point of starting when
a messenger boy came hurrying into the yard where the great airship
rested on its bicycle wheels.
"A telegram for you, Tom," called the lad, who was well acquainted
with our hero.
Hastily the young inventor tore open the envelope.
"Here's news!" he exclaimed,
"What is it?" asked Ned.
"It's from Mr. Whitford," answered his chum. "He says: 'Can't be
with you at start. Will meet you in Logansville. Have new clew to
"Great Scott!" cried Ned, staring at his chum.
Chapter XI Andy's New Airship
Tom Swift tossed a quarter to the messenger boy, and leaped over the
rail to the deck of his airship, making his way toward the pilot
"Start the motor, Ned," he called. "Are you all ready, Mr. Damon?"
"Bless my ancient history, yes. But--"
"Are you going, Tom?" asked Ned.
"Of course. That's why we're here; isn't it? We're going to start
for the border to catch the smugglers. Give me full speed, I want
the motor to warm up."
"But that message from Mr. Whitford? He says he has a new clew to
"That's all right. He may have, but he doesn't ask us to work it up.
He says he will meet us in Logansville, and he can't if we don't go
there. We're off for Logansville. Good-bye dad. I'll bring you back
a souvenir, Mrs. Baggert," he called to the housekeeper. "Sorry
you're not coming, Rad, but I'll take you next time."
"Dat's all right, Massa Tom. I doan't laik dem smugger-fellers,
nohow. Good-bye an' good luck!"
"Bless my grab bag!" gasped Mr. Damon. "You certainly do things,
"That's the only way to get things done," replied the young
inventor. "How about you, Ned? Motor all right?"
"Then let her go!"
A moment later Ned had started the machinery, and Tom, in the pilot
house, had pulled the lever of the elevating rudder. Whizzing along,
but making scarcely any sound, the noiseless airship mounted upward,
and was off on her flight to capture the men who were cheating Uncle
"What are you going to do first, when you get there, Tom?" asked
Ned, as he joined his chum in the pilot house, having set the motor
and other apparatus to working automatically. "I mean in
"I don't know. I'll have to wait and see how things develop."
"That's where Mr. Foger lives, you know."
"Yes, but I doubt if he is there now. He and Andy are probably still
in the old house here, though what they are doing is beyond me to
"What do you suppose this new clew is that Mr. Whitford wired you
"Haven't any idea. If he wants us to get after it he'll let us know.
It won't take us long to get there at this rate. But I think I'll
slow down a bit, for the motor is warmed up now, and there's no use
racking it to pieces. But we're moving nicely; aren't we, Ned?"
"I should say so. This is the best all-around airship you've got."
"It is since I put the new motor in. Well, I wonder what will happen
when we get chasing around nights after the smugglers? It isn't
going to be easy work, I can tell you."
"I should say not. How you going to manage it?"
"Well, I haven't just decided. I'm going to have a talk with the
customs men, and then I'll go out night after night and cruise
around at the most likely place where they'll rush goods across the
border. As soon as I see the outlines of an airship in the darkness,
or hear the throb of her motor, I'll take after her, and--"
"Yes, and you can do it, too, Tom, for she can't hear you coming and
you can flash the big light on her and the smugglers will think the
end of the world has come. Cracky! Its going to be great, Tom! I'm
glad I came along. Maybe they'll fight, and fire at us! If they have
guns aboard, as they probably will have, we'll--"
"Bless my armor plate!" interrupted Mr. Damon. "Please don't talk
about such hair-raising things, Ned! Talk about something pleasant."
"All right," agreed Tom's chum, and then, as the airship sailed
along, high above the earth, they talked of many things.
"I think when we sight Logansville." said Tom, after a while, "that
I will come down in some quiet spot, before we reach the city."
"Don't you want to get into a crowd?" asked Ned.
"No, it isn't that. But Mr. Foger lives there you know, and, though
he may not be at home, there are probably some men who are
interested in the thing he is working at."
"You mean smuggling?"
"Well, I wouldn't say that. At the same time it may have leaked out
that we are after the smugglers in an airship and it may be that Mr.
Whitford doesn't want the Fogers to know I'm on the ground until he
has a chance to work up his clew. So I'll just go slowly, and remain
in the background for a while."
"Well, maybe it's a good plan," agreed Ned.
[Original text says "Tom". (note of etext transcriber.)]
"Of course," began Tom, "it would be--"
He was interrupted by a shout from Koku, who had gone to the motor
room, for the giant was as fascinated over machinery as a child. As
he yelled there came a grinding, pounding noise, and the big ship
seemed to waver, to quiver in the void, and to settle toward the
"Something's happened!" cried Ned, as he sprang for the place where
most of the mechanism was housed.
"Bless my toy balloon!" shouted Mr. Damon. "We're falling, Tom!"
It needed but a glance at the needle of the barograph, to show this.
Tom followed Ned at top speed, but ere either of them reached the
engine room the pounding and grinding noises ceased, the airship
began to mount upward again, and it seemed that the danger had
"What can have happened?" gasped Tom.
"Come on, we'll soon see," said Ned, and they rushed on, followed by
Mr. Damon, who was blessing things in a whisper.
The chums saw a moment later--saw a strange sight--for there was
Koku, the giant, kneeling down on the floor of the motor room, with
his big hands clasped over one of the braces of the bed-plate of the
great air pump, which cooled the cylinders of the motor. The pump
had torn partly away from its fastenings. Kneeling there, pressing
down on the bed-plate with all his might, Koku was in grave danger,
for the rod of the pump, plunging up and down, was within a fraction
of an inch of his head, and, had he moved, the big taper pin, which
held the plunger to the axle, would have struck his temple and
probably would have killed him, for the pin, which held the plunger
rigid, projected several inches from the smooth side of the rod.
"Koku, what is the matter? Why are you there?" cried Tom, for he
could see nothing wrong with the machinery now. The airship was
sailing on as before.
"Bolt break," explained the giant briefly, for he had learned some
engineering terms since he had been with Tom. "Bolt that hold pump
fast to floor crack off. Pump him begin to jump up. Make bad noise.
Koku hold him down, but pretty hard work. Better put in new bolt,
They could see the strain that was put upon the giant in his
swelling veins and the muscles of his hands and arms, for they stood
out knotted, and in bunches. With all his great strength it was all
Koku could do to hold the pump from tearing completely loose.
"Quick, Ned!" cried Tom. "Shut off all the power! Stop the pump!
I've got to bolt it fast. Start the gas machine, Mr. Damon. You know
how to do it. It works independent of the motor. You can let go in a
It took but a few seconds to do all this. Ned stopped the main
motor, which had the effect of causing the propellers to cease
revolving. Then the airship would have gone down but for the fact
that she was now a balloon, Mr. Damon having started the generating
machine which sent the powerful lifting gas into the big bag over
"Now you can let go, Koku," said Tom, for with the stooping of the
motor the air pump ceased plunging, and there was no danger of it
"Bless my court plaster!" cried Mr. Damon. "What happened, Tom?"
As the giant arose from his kneeling position the cause of the
accident could easily be seen. Two of the big belts that held down
one end of the pump bed-plate to the floor of the airship, had
cracked off, probably through some defect, or because of the long
and constant vibration on them.
This caused a great strain on the two forward bolts, and the pump
started to tear itself loose. Had it done so there would have been
a serious accident, for there would have been a tangle in the
machinery that might never have been repairable. But Koku, who, it
seems, had been watching the pump, saw the accident as soon as it
occurred. He knew that the pump must be held down, and kept rigid,
and he took the only way open to him to accomplish this.
He pressed his big hands down over the place where the bolts had
broken off, and by main strength of muscle he held the bed-plate in
place until the power was shut off.
"Koku, my boy, you did a great thing!" cried Tom, when he realized
what had happened. "You saved all our lives, and the airship as
"Koku glad," was the simple reply of the giant.
"But, bless my witch hazel!" cried Mr. Damon. "There's blood on your
They looked at the giant's palms. They were raw and bleeding.
"How did it happen?" asked Ned.
"Where belts break off, iron rough-like," explained Koku.
"Rough! I should say it was!" cried Tom. "Why, he just pressed with
all his might on the jagged end of the belts. Koku you're a hero!"
"Hero same as giant?" asked Koku, curiously.
"No, it's a heap sight better," spoke Tom, and there was a trace of
tears in his eyes.
"Bless my vaseline!" exclaimed Mr. Damon, blowing his nose harder
than seemed necessary. "Come over here, Koku, and I'll bandage up
your hands. Poor fellow, it must hurt a lot!"
"Oh, not so bad," was the simple reply.
While Mr. Damon gave first aid to the injured, Tom and Ned put new
bolts in place of the broken ones on the bed-plate, and they tested
them to see that they were perfect. New ones were also substituted
for the two that had been strained, and in the course of an hour the
repairs were made.
"Now we can run as an aeroplane again," said Tom. "But I'm not going
to try such speed again. It was the vibration that did it I guess."
They were now over a wild and desolate stretch of country, for the
region lying on either side of the imaginary line dividing Canada and
New York State, at the point where the St. Lawrence flows north-east,
is sparsely settled.
There were stretches of forest that seemed never to have been
penetrated, and here and there patches of stunted growth, with
little lakes dotted through the wilderness. There were hills and
valleys, small streams and an occasional village.
"Just the place for smuggling," observed Tom, as he looked at a map,
consulted a clock and figured out that they must be near
Logansville. "We can go down here in one of these hollows,
surrounded by this tangled forest, and no one would ever know we
were here. The smugglers could do the same."
"Are you going to try it?" asked Ned.
"I think I will. We'll go up to quite a height now, and I'll see if
I can pick out Logansville. That isn't much of a place I guess. When
I sight it I'll select a good place to lay hidden for a day or two,
until Mr. Whitford has had a chance to work up his clew."
The airship machinery was now working well again, and Tom sent his
craft up about three miles. From there, taking observations through
a powerful telescope, he was able, after a little while, to pick out
a small town. From its location and general outline he knew it to be
"We'll go down about three miles from it," he said to his chum.
"They won't be likely to see us then, and we'll stay concealed for a
This plan was put into operation, and, a little later the Falcon
came to rest in a little grassy clearing, located in among a number
of densely wooded hills. It was an ideal place to camp, though very
"Now, Ned, let's cut a lot of branches, and pile them over the
airship," suggested Tom.
"Cover over the airship? What for?"
"So that in case anyone flies over our heads they won't look down
and see us. If the Fogers, or any of the smugglers, should happen to
pass over this place, they'd spot us in a minute. We've got to play
foxy on this hunt."
"That's so," agreed his chum; and soon the three of them were busy
making the airship look like a tangled mass of underbrush. Koku
helped by dragging big branches along under his arm, but he could
not use his hands very well.
They remained in the little grassy glade three days, thoroughly
enjoying their camp and the rest. Tom and Ned went fishing in a
nearby lake and had some good luck. They also caught trout in a
small stream and broiled the speckled beauties with bacon inside
them over live coals at a campfire.
"My! But that's good!" mumbled Ned, with his mouth full of hot
trout, and bread and butter.
"Yes, I'd rather do this than chase smugglers," said Tom, stretching
out on his back with his face to the sky. "I wish--"
But he did not finish the sentence. Suddenly from the air above them
came a curious whirring, throbbing noise. Tom sat up with a jump! He
and Ned gazed toward the zenith. The noise increased and, a moment
later, there came into view a big airship, sailing right over their
"Look at that!" cried Tom.
"Hush! They'll hear you," cautioned Ned.
"Nonsense! They're too high up," was Tom's reply. "Mr. Damon, bring
me the big binoculars, please!" he called.
"Bless my spectacles, what's up?" asked the odd gentleman as he ran
with the glasses toward Tom.
Our hero focused them on the airship that was swiftly sailing across
the open space in the wilderness but so high up that there was no
danger of our friends being recognized. Then the young inventor
uttered a cry of astonishment.
"It's Andy Foger!" he cried. "He's in that airship, and he's got two
men with him. Andy Foger, and it's a new biplane. Say, maybe that's
the new clew Mr. Whitford wired me about. We must get ready for
action! Andy in a new airship means business, and from the whiteness
of the canvas planes, I should say that craft was on its first
Chapter XII Warned Away
"Tom, are you sure it's Andy?"
"Take a look yourself," replied the young inventor, passing his chum
"Bless my bottle of ink!" cried Mr. Damon. "Is it possible?"
"Quick, Ned, or you'll miss him!" cried Tom.
The young bank clerk focused the glasses on the rapidly moving
airship, and, a moment later, exclaimed:
"Yes, that's Andy all right, but I don't know who the men are with
"I couldn't recognize them, either," announced Tom. "But say, Ned,
Andy's got a good deal better airship than he had before."
"Yes. This isn't his old one fixed over. I don't believe he ever
intended to repair the old one. That hiring of Mr. Dillon to do
that, was only to throw him, and us, too, off the track."
Ned passed the glasses to Mr. Damon, who was just in time to get a
glimpse of the three occupants of Andy's craft before it passed out
of sight over the trees.
"I believe you're right," said Tom to his chum. "And did you notice
that there's quite a body, or car, to that craft?"
"Yes, room enough to carry considerable goods," commented Ned. "I
wonder where he's going in it?"
"To Logansville, most likely. I tell you what it is, Ned. I think one
of us will have to go there, and see if Mr. Whitford has arrived. He
may be looking for us. I'm not sure but what we ought not to have
done this first. He may think we have not come, or have met with
"I guess you're right, Tom. But how shall we go? It isn't going to
be any fun to tramp through those woods," and Ned glanced at the
wilderness that surrounded the little glade where they had been
"No, and I've about concluded that we might as well risk it, and go
in the airship. Mr. Whitford has had time enough to work up his
clew, I guess, and Andy will be sure to find out, sooner or later,
that we are in the neighborhood. I say let's start for Logansville."
Ned and Mr. Damon agreed with this and soon they were prepared to
"Where will you find Mr. Whitford?" asked Ned of his chum, as the
Falcon arose in the air.
"At the post-office. That's where we arranged to meet. There is a
sort of local custom house there, I believe."
Straight over the forest flew Tom Swift and his airship, with the
great searchlight housed on top. They delayed their start until the
other craft had had a chance to get well ahead, and they were well
up in the air; there was no sight of the biplane in which Andy had
sailed over their heads a short time before.
"Where are you going to land?" asked Ned, as they came in view of
"The best place I can pick out," answered Tom. "Just on the
outskirts of the place, I think. I don't want to go down right in
the centre, as there'll be such a crowd. Yet if Andy has been using
his airship here the people must be more or less used to seeing
But if the populace of Logansville had been in the habit of having
Andy Foger sail over their heads, still they were enough interested
in a new craft to crowd around when Tom dropped into a field near
some outlying houses. In a moment the airship was surrounded by a
crowd of women and children, and there would probably been a lot of
men, but for the fact that they were away at work. Tom had come down
in a residential section.
"Say, that's a beauty!" cried one boy.
"Let's see if they'll let us go on!" proposed another.
"We're going to have our own troubles," said Tom to his chum. "I
guess I'll go into town, and leave the rest of you on guard here.
Keep everybody off, if you have to string mildly charged electrical
wires about the rail."
But there was no need to take this precaution, for, just as the
combined juvenile population of that part of Logansville was
prepared to storm, and board the Falcon, Koku appeared on deck.
"Oh, look at the giant!"
"Say, this is a circus airship?"
"Wow! Ain't he big!"
"I'll bet he could lift a house!"
These and other expressions came from the boys and girls about the
airship. The women looked on open-mouthed, and murmurs of surprise
and admiration at Koku's size came from a number of men who had
hastily run up.
Koku stepped from the airship to the ground, and at once every boy
and girl made a bee-line for safety.
"That will do the trick!" exclaimed Tom with a laugh. "Koku, just
pull up a few trees, and look as fierce as Bluebeard, and I guess we
won't be troubled with curiosity seekers. You can guard the airship,
Koku, better than electric wires."
"I fix 'em!" exclaimed the giant, and he tried to look fierce, but
it was hard work, for he was very good natured. But he proved a
greater attraction than the aircraft, and Tom was glad of it, for he
did not like meddlers aboard.
"With Koku to help you, and Mr. Damon to bless things. I guess you
can manage until I come back, Ned," said the young inventor, as he
made ready to go in to town to see if Mr. Whitford had arrived.
"Oh, we'll get along all right," declared Ned. "Don't worry."
Tom found Mr. Whitford in one of the rooms over the post-office. The
custom house official was restlessly pacing the floor.
"Well, Tom!" he exclaimed, shaking hands, "I'm glad to see you. I
was afraid something had happened. I was delayed myself, but when I
did arrive and found you hadn't been heard from, I didn't know what
to think. I couldn't get you on the wireless. The plant here is out
Tom told of their trip, and the wait they had decided on, and asked:
"What about the new clew; the Fogers?"
"I'm sorry to say it didn't amount to anything. I ran it down, and
came to nothing."
"You know Andy has a new airship?"
"Yes. I had men on the trail of it. They say Andy is agent for a
firm that manufactures them, but I have my doubts. I haven't given
up yet. But say, Tom, you've got to get busy. A big lot of goods was
smuggled over last night."
"Well, quite a way from here. I got a telegram about it. Can you get
on the job to-night, and do some patrol work along the border?
You're only half a mile from it now. Over there is Canada," and he
pointed to a town on a hill opposite Logansville.
"Yes, I can get right into action. What place is that?"
"Montford, Canada. I've got men planted there, and the Dominion
customs officials are helping us. But I think the smugglers have
changed the base of their operations for the time being. If I were
you I'd head for the St. Lawrence to-night."
"I will. Don't you want to come along?"
"Why, yes. I believe I'm game. I'll join you later in the day," Mr.
Whitford added, as Tom told him where the Falcon was anchored.
The young inventor got back to find a bigger crowd than ever around
his airship. But Koku and the others had kept them at a distance.
With the government agent aboard Tom sent his craft into the air at
dusk, the crowd cheering lustily. Then, with her nose pointed toward
the St. Lawrence, the Falcon was on her way to do a night patrol,
and, if possible, detect the smugglers.
It was monotonous work, and unprofitable, for, though Tom sent the
airship back and forth for many miles along the wonderful river that
formed the path from the Great Lakes to the sea, he had no glimpse
of ghostly wings of other aircraft, nor did he hear the beat of
propellers, nor the throb of motors, as his own noiseless airship
It came on to rain after midnight, and a mist crept down from the
clouds, so that even with the great searchlight flashing its
powerful beams, it was difficult to see for any great distance.
"Better give it up, I guess," suggested Mr. Whitford toward morning,
when they had covered many miles, and had turned back toward
"All right," agreed Tom. "But we'll try it again to-morrow night."
He dropped his craft at the anchorage he had selected in the gray
dawn of the morning. All on board were tired and sleepy. Ned,
looking from a window of the cabin, as the Falcon came to a stop,
saw something white on the ground.
"I wonder what that is?" he said as he hurried out to pick it up. It
was a large white envelope, addressed to Tom Swift, and the name was
in printed characters.
"Somebody who wants to disguise their writing," remarked Tom, as he
tore it open. A look of surprise came over his face.
"Look here! Mr. Whitford," he cried. "This is the work of the
smugglers all right!"
For, staring at Tom, in big printed letters, on a white sheet of
paper, was this message:
"If you know what is good for you, Tom Swift, you had better clear
out. If you don't your airship will burned, and you may get hurt.
We'll burn you in mid-air. Beware and quit. You can't catch us."
"The Committee of Three."
"Ha! Warned away!" cried Tom. "Well, it will take more than this to
make me give up!" and he crumpled the anonymous warning in his hand.
Chapter XIII Koku Saves the Light
"Don't do that!" cried Mr. Whitford.
"What?" asked Tom, in some surprise.
"Don't destroy that letter. It may give us a clew. Let me have it.
I'll put a man at work on that end of this game."
"Bless my checkerboard!" cried Mr. Damon. "This game has so many
ends that you don't know where to begin to play it."
The government man smoothed out the crumpled piece of paper, and
looked at it carefully, and also gazed at the envelope.
"It's pretty hard to identify plain print, done with a lead pencil,"
he murmured. "And this didn't came through the mail."
"I wonder how it got here?" mused Ned. "Maybe some of the crowd that
was here when we started off dropped it for the smugglers. Maybe the
smugglers were in that crowd!"
"Let's take a look outside," suggested Mr. Whitford. "We may be able
to pick up a clew there."
Although our friends were tired and sleepy, and hungry as well, they
forgot all this in the desire to learn more about the mysterious
warning that had come to them during the night. They all went
outside, and Ned pointed to where he had picked up the envelope.
"Look all around, and see if you can find anything more," directed
the custom agent.
"Footprints won't count," said Tom. "There was a regular circus
crowd out here yesterday."
"I'm not looking for footprints," replied Mr. Whitford, "I have an
"Here's something!" interrupted Mr. Damon. "It looks like a lead
weight for a deep-sea fishing line. Bless my reel. No one could do
"Let me see that!" exclaimed Mr. Whitford eagerly. Then, as he
looked at it, he uttered a cry of delight. "I thought so," he said.
"Look at this bit of cord tied to the weight."
"What does that signify?" asked Tom.
"And see this little hole in the envelope, or, rather a place that
was a hole, but it's torn away now."
"I'm not much the wiser," confessed Ned, with a puzzled look.
"Why, it's as plain as print," declared the government agent. "This
warning letter was dropped from an airship, Tom."
"From an airship?"
"Yes. They sailed right over this place, and let the letter fall,
with this lead weight attached, to bring it to earth just where they
wanted it to fall."
"Bless my postage stamp!" cried Mr. Damon. "I never heard of such a
"I see it now!" exclaimed Tom. "While we were off over the river,
watching for the smugglers, they were turning a trick here, and
giving us a warning into the bargain. We should have stayed around
here. I wonder if it was Andy's airship that was used?"
"We can easily find that out," said Mr. Whitford. "I have a
detective stationed in a house not far from where the Fogers live.
Andy came back from Shopton yesterday, just before you arrived here,
and I can soon let you know whether he was out last night. I'll take
this letter with me, and get right up to my office, though I'm
afraid this won't be much of a clew after all. Print isn't like
handwriting for evidence."
"And to think they sailed right over this place, and we weren't
home," mourned Tom. "It makes me mad!"
But there was no use in regretting what had happened, and, after a
hot breakfast in the airship, with Mr. Damon presiding at the
electrical stove, they all felt more hopeful. Mr. Whitford left for
his office, promising to send word to Tom as to whether or not Andy
was abroad in the airship during the night.
"I wonder if that 'Committee of Three' is Andy and these two fellows
with him in the airship?" asked Ned.
"Hard telling," responded his chum. "Now for a good sleep. Koku,
keep the crowd away while we have a rest," for the giant had
indulged in a good rest while the airship was on patrol during the
Not so much of a crowd came out as on the first day, and Koku had
little trouble in keeping them far enough away so that Tom and the
others could get some rest. Koku walked about, brandishing a big
club, and looking as fierce as a giant in a fairy tale. It was
afternoon when a message came from Mr. Whitford to the effect that
Andy's airship was not out the previous night, and that so far no
clews had developed from the letter, or from any other source.
"We'll just have to keep our eyes open," wrote Mr. Whitford. "I
think perhaps we are altogether wrong about the Fogers, unless they
are deeper than I give them credit for. It might be well to let the
smugglers think you are frightened, and go away for a day or so,
selecting a more secluded spot to remain in. That may cause them to
get bolder, and we may catch them unawares."
"That's a good plan. I'll try it," decided Tom. "We'll move to-morrow
to a new location."
"Why not to-night?" asked Ned.
"Because it's getting late, and I want to circle about in daylight
and pick out a good place. Morning will do all right."
"Then you're not going out to-night?"
"No. Mr. Whitford writes that as goods were smuggled over last night
it will hardly be likely that they will repeat the trick to-night.
We'll have a little rest."
"Going to mount guard?" asked Ned.
"No, I don't think so. No one will disturb us."
Afterward the young inventor wished that he had kept a better watch
that night, for it nearly proved disastrous for him.
It must have been about midnight that Tom was awakened by a movement
in the airship.
"Who's that?" he asked suddenly.
"Koku," came the reassuring reply. "Too hot to sleep in my bunk. I
go out on deck."
"All right, Koku," and Tom dozed off again.
Suddenly he was awakened by the sound of a terrific scuffle on deck.
Up he jumped, rushing toward the door that led from his sleeping
"What is it! What's the matter!" he cried.
There came the sound of a blow, a cry of pain, and then the report
of a gun.
"Bless my cartridge belt!" cried Mr. Damon.
"What's the matter? Who is it? What happened?" yelled Ned, tumbling
out of his bunk.
"Something wrong!" answered Tom, as he switched on the electric
lights. He was just in time to see Koku wrench a gun from a man who
stood near the pedestal, on which the great searchlight was poised.
Tossing the weapon aside, Koku caught up his club, and aimed a blow
at the man. But the latter nimbly dodged and, a moment later leaped
over the rail, followed by the giant.
"Who is he? What did he do?" cried Tom after his big servant. "What
"Him try to shoot searchlight, but I stop him!" yelled back Koku, as
he rushed on in pursuit. With a leap Tom sprang to the switch of his
lantern, and sent a flood of light toward where Koku was racing
after the intruder.
Chapter XIV A False Clew
Full in the glare of the powerful beam from the light there was
revealed the giant and the man he was pursuing. The latter neither
Tom, nor any one on the airship, knew. All they could see was that
he was racing away at top speed, with Koku vainly swinging his club
"Bless my chicken soup!" cried Mr. Damon. "Is anything damaged,
"No, Koku was too quick for him." yelled the youth, as he, too
leaped over the rail and joined in the pursuit.
"Stop! Stop!" called Koku to the man who had sought to damage the
great searchlight. But the fellow knew better than to halt, with an
angry giant so close behind him. He ran on faster than ever.
Suddenly the stranger seemed to realize that by keeping in the path
of the light he gave his pursuers a great advantage. He dodged to
one side, off the path on which he had been running, and plunged
into the bushes.
"Where him go?" called Koku, coming to a puzzled halt.
"Ned, play the light on both sides!" ordered Tom to his chum, who
was now on the deck of the airship, near the wheels and levers that
operated the big lantern. "Show him up!"
Obediently the young bank clerk swung the searchlight from side to
side. The powerful combined electric current, hissing into the big
carbons, and being reflected by the parabolic mirrors, made the
growth of underbrush as brightly illuminated as in day time. Tom
detected a movement.
"There he is, Koku!" he called to his giant servant. "Off there to
the left. After him!"
Raising his club on high, Koku made a leap for the place where the
fugitive was hiding. As the man saw the light, and sprang forward,
he was, for a moment, in the full glare of the rays. Then, just as
the giant was about to reach him, Koku stumbled over a tree root,
and fell heavily.
"Never mind, I'll get him!" yelled Tom, but the next moment the man
vanished suddenly, and was no longer to be seen in the finger of
light from the lantern. He had probably dipped down into some
hollow, lying there hidden, and as of course was out of the focus of
"Come on, Koku, we'll find him!" exclaimed Tom, and together they
made a search, Mr. Damon joining them, while Ned worked the lantern.
But it was of no avail, for they did not find the stranger.
"Well, we might as well go back," said Tom, at length. "We can't
find him. He's probably far enough off by this time."
"Who was he?" panted Mr. Damon, as he walked beside Tom and Koku to
the airship. Ned had switched off the big light on a signal from the
"I don't know!" answered Tom.
"But what did he want? What was he doing? I don't quite understand."
"He wanted to put my searchlight out of commission," responded our
hero. "From that I should argue that he was either one of the
smugglers, or trying to aid them."
And this theory was borne out by Mr. Whitford, who, on calling the
next morning, was told of the occurrence of the night. Koku related
how he had found it uncomfortable in his bunk, and had gone out on
deck for air. There, half dozing, he heard a stealthy step. At once
he was on the alert. He saw a man with a gun creeping along, and at
first thought the fellow had evil designs on some of those aboard
Then, when Koku saw the man aim at the big searchlight the giant
sprang at him, and there was a scuffle. The gun went off, and the
man escaped. An examination of the weapon he had left behind showed
that it carried a highly explosive shell, which, had it hit the
lantern, would have completely destroyed it, and might have damaged
"It was the smugglers, without a doubt," declared Mr. Whitford. "You
can't get away from this place any too soon, Tom. Get a new hiding
spot, and I will communicate with you there."
"But they are on the watch," objected Ned. "They'll see where we go,
and follow us. The next time they may succeed in smashing the
"And if they do," spoke Tom, "it will be all up with trying to
detect the smugglers, for it would take me quite a while to make
another searchlight. But I have a plan."
"What is it?" asked the government agent.
"I'll make a flight to-day," went on the young inventor, "and sail
over quite an area. I'll pick out a good place to land, and we'll
make our camp there instead of here. Then I'll come back to this
spot, and after dark I'll go up, without a light showing. There's no
moon to-night, and they'll have pretty good eyes if they can follow
me, unless they get a searchlight, and they won't do that for fear
of giving themselves away. We'll sail off in the darkness, go to the
spot we have previously picked out, and drop down to it. There we can
hide and I don't believe they can trace us."
"But how can you find in the darkness, the spot you pick out in
daylight?" Mr. Whitford wanted to know.
"I'll arrange some electric lights, in a certain formation in trees
around the landing place," said Tom. "I'll fix them with a clockwork
switch, that will illuminate them at a certain hour, and they'll run
by a storage battery. In that way I'll have my landing place all
marked out, and, as it can only be seen from above, if any of the
smugglers are on the ground, they won't notice the incandescents."
"But if they are in their airship they will," said Mr. Damon.
"Of course that's possible," admitted Tom, "but, even if they see
the lights I don't believe they will know what they mean. And,
another thing, I don't imagine they'll come around here in their
airship when they know that we're in the neighborhood, and when the
spy who endeavored to damage my lantern reports that he didn't
succeed. They'll know that we are likely to be after them any
"That's so," agreed Ned. "I guess that's a good plan."
It was one they adopted, and, soon after Mr. Whitford's visit the
airship arose, with him on board, and Tom sent her about in great
circles and sweeps, now on high and again, barely skimming over the
treetops. During this time a lookout was kept for any other
aircraft, but none was seen.
"If they are spying on us, which is probably the case," said Tom,
"they will wonder what we're up to. I'll keep 'em guessing. I think
I'll fly low over Mr. Foger's house, and see if Andy has his airship
there. We'll give him a salute."
Before doing this, however, Tom had picked out a good landing place
in a clearing in the woods, and had arranged some incandescent
lights on high branches of trees. The lights enclosed a square, in
the centre of which the Falcon was to drop down.
Of course it was necessary to descend to do this, to arrange the
storage battery and the clock switch. Then, so as to throw their
enemies off their track, they made landings in several other places,
though they did nothing, merely staying there as a sort of "bluff"
as Ned called it.
"They'll have their own troubles if they investigate every place we
stopped at," remarked Tom, "and, even if they do hit on the one we
have selected for our camp they won't see the lights in the trees,
for they're well hidden."
This work done, they flew back toward Logansville, and sailed over
"There he is, on the roof, working at his airship!" exclaimed Ned,
as they came within viewing distance, and, surely enough, there was
the bully, tinkering away at his craft. Tom flew low enough down to
speak to him, and, as the Falcon produced no noise, it was not
difficult to make their voices heard.
"Hello, Andy!" called Tom, as he swept slowly overhead.
Andy looked up, but only scowled.
"Nice day; isn't it?" put in Ned.
"You get on away from here!" burst out the bully. "You are
trespassing, by flying over my house, and I could have you arrested
for it. Keep away."
"All right," agreed Tom with a laugh. "Don't trespass by flying over
our ship, Andy. We also might have a gun to shoot searchlights
with," he added.
Andy started, but did not reply, though Tom, who was watching him
closely, thought he saw an expression of fear come over the bully's
"Do you think it was Andy who did the shooting?" asked Ned.
"No, he hasn't the nerve," replied Tom. "I don't know what to think
about that affair last night."
"Excepting that the smugglers are getting afraid of you, and want to
get you out of the way," put in the custom official.
That night, when it was very dark, the Falcon noiselessly made her
way upward and sailed along until she was over the square in the
forest, marked out by the four lights. Then Tom sent her safely
"Now let 'em find us if they can!" the young inventor exclaimed, as he
made the craft fast. "We'll turn in now, and see what happens
"I'll send you word, just as soon as I get any myself," promised Mr.
Whitford, when he left the next morning.
Tom and Ned spent the day in going over the airship, making some
minor repairs to it, and polishing and oiling the mechanism of the
searchlight, to have it in the best possible condition.
It was about dusk when the wireless outfit, with which the Falcon
was fitted, began snapping and cracking.
"Here comes a message!" cried Tom, as he clapped the receiver over
his head, and began to translate the dots and dashes.
"It's from Mr. Whitford!" he exclaimed, when he had written it down,
and had sent back an answer, "He says: 'Have a tip that smugglers
will try to get goods over the border at some point near Niagara
Falls to-morrow night. Can you go there, and cruise about? Better
keep toward Lake Ontario also. I will be with you. Answer.'"
"What answer did you send?" asked Ned.
"I told him we'd be on the job. It's quite a little run to make, and
we can't start until after dark, or otherwise some of the smugglers
around here may see us, and tip off their confederates. But I guess
we can make the distance all right."
Mr. Whitford arrived at the airship the next afternoon, stating that
he had news from one of the government spies to the effect that a
bold attempt would be made that night.
"They're going to try and smuggle some diamonds over on this trip,"
said the custom agent.
"Well, we'll try to nab them!" exclaimed Tom.
As soon as it was dark enough to conceal her movements, the Falcon
was sent aloft, not a light showing, and, when on high, Tom started
the motor at full speed. The great propellers noiselessly beat the
air, and the powerful craft was headed for Lake Ontario.
"They're pretty good, if they attempted to cross the lake to-night,"
observed the young inventor, as he looked at the barometer.
"Why so?" asked Ned.
"Because there's a bad storm coming up. I shouldn't want to risk it.
We'll keep near shore. We can nab them there as good as over the
This plan was adopted, and as soon as they reached the great body of
water--the last in the chain of the Great Lakes--Tom cruised about,
he and Ned watching through powerful night glasses for a glimpse of
Far into the night they sailed about, covering many miles, for Tom ran
at almost top speed. They sailed over Niagara Falls, and then well
along the southern shore of Ontario, working their way north-east and
back again. But not a sign of the smugglers did they see.
Meanwhile the wind had arisen until it was a gale, and it began to
rain. Gently at first the drops came down, until at length there was
a torrent of water descending from the overhead clouds. But those in
the Falcon were in no discomfort.
"It's a bad storm all right!" exclaimed Tom, as he looked at the
barometer, and noted that the mercury was still falling.
"Yes, and we have had our trouble for our pains!" declared Mr.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean I believe that we have been deceived by a false clew. The
smugglers probably had no intention of getting goods across at this
point to-night. They saw to it that my agent got false information,
believing that we would follow it, and leave the vicinity of
"So they could operate there?" asked Tom.
"That's it," replied the agent. "They drew us off the scent. There's
no help for it. We must get back as soon as we can. My! This is a
bad storm!" he added, as a blast careened the airship.
Chapter XV The Rescue On the Lake
For a time the Falcon shot onward through the storm and darkness,
for Tom did not want to give up. With but a single shaded light in
the pilot house, so that he could see to read the gauges and dials,
telling of the condition of the machinery in the motor room, he
pushed his stanch craft ahead. At times she would be forced downward
toward the angry waters of Lake Ontario, over which she was sailing,
but the speed of her propellers and the buoyancy of the gas bag,
would soon lift her again.
"How much longer are you going to stay?" called Ned in his chum's
ear--called loudly, not to be heard above the noise of the airship,
but above the racket of the gale.
"Oh, I guess we may as well start back," spoke Tom, after a look at
the clock on the wall. "We can just about make our camp by daylight,
and they won't see us."
"It won't be light very early," observed Mr. Whitford, looking in
the pilot house from the cabin, just aft of it. "But there is no use
waiting around here any more, Tom. They gave us a false clew, all
"Bless my police badge!" cried Mr. Damon. "They must be getting
"I believe they are," went on the custom officer. "They are afraid
of us, and that's a good sign. We'll keep right after 'em, too. If
we don't get 'em this week, we will next. Better put back."
"I will," decided the young inventor.
"It certainly is a gale," declared Ned, as he made his way along a
dim passage, as few lights had been set aglow, for fear of the
smugglers seeing the craft outlined in the air. Now, however, when
it was almost certain that they were on the wrong scent, Tom
switched on the incandescents, making the interior of the Falcon
The giant came into the pilot house to help Tom, and the airship was
turned about, and headed toward Logansville. The wind was now
sweeping from the north across Lake Ontario, and it was all the
powerful craft could do to make headway against it.
There came a terrific blast, which, in spite of all that Tom and
Koku could do, forced the Falcon down, dangerously close to the
"Hard over, Koku!" called Tom to his giant.
As the airship began to respond to the power of her propellers, and
the up-tilted rudder, Tom heard, from somewhere below him, a series
of shrill blasts on a whistle.
"What's that?" he cried.
"Sounds like a boat below us," answered Mr. Whitford.
"I guess it is," agreed the young inventor. "There she goes again."
Once more came the frantic tooting of a whistle, and mingled with it
could be heard voices shouting in fear, but it was only a confused
murmur of sound. No words could be made out.
"That's a compressed air whistle!" decided Tom. "It must be some
sort of a motor boat in distress. Quick, Mr. Whitford! Tell Ned to
switch on the searchlight, and play it right down on the lake. If
there's a boat in this storm it can't last long. Even an ocean liner
would have trouble. Get the light on quick, and we'll see what we
It was the work of but an instant to convey the message to Ned. The
latter called Mr. Damon to relieve him in the motor room, and, a few
seconds later, Ned had switched on the electricity. By means of the
lazy-tongs, and the toggle joints, the bank clerk lifted the lantern
over until the powerful beam from it was projected straight down
into the seething waters of the lake.
"Do you see anything?" asked Mr. Damon from the motor room, at one
side of which Ned stood to operate the lantern.
"Nothing but white-caps," was the answer. "It's a fearful storm."
Once more came the series of shrill whistles, and the confused
calling of voices. Ned opened a window, in order to hear more
plainly. As the whistle tooted again he could locate the sound, and,
by swinging the rays of the searchlight to and fro he finally picked
up the craft.
"There she is!" he cried, peering down through the plate glass
window in the floor of the motor room. "It's a small gasolene boat,
and there are several men in her! She's having a hard time."
"Can we rescue them?" asked Mr. Damon.
"If anybody can, Tom Swift will," was Ned's reply. Then came a
whistle from the speaking tube, that led to the pilot house.
"What is it?" asked Ned, putting the tube to his ear.
"Stand by for a rescue!" ordered Tom, who had also, through a window
in the floor of the pilot house, seen the hapless motor boat. The
men in it were frantically waving their hands to those on the
airship. "I'm going down as close as I dare," went on Tom. "You
watch, and when it's time, have Koku drop from the stern a long,
knotted rope. That will be a sort of ladder, and they can make it
fast to their boat and climb up, hand over hand. It's the only
"Good!" cried Ned. "Send Koku to me. Can you manage alone in the
"Yes," came back the answer through the tube.
Koku came back on the run, and was soon tying knots in a strong
rope. Meanwhile Ned kept the light on the tossing boat, while Tom,
through a megaphone had called to the men to stand by to be rescued.
The whistle frantically tooted their thanks.
Koku went out on the after deck, and, having made the knotted rope
fast, dropped the end overboard. Then began a difficult feature of
airship steering. Tom, looking down through the glass, watched the
boat in the glare of the light. Now coming forward, now reversing
against the rush of the wind; now going up, and now down, the young
inventor so directed the course of his airship so that, finally, the
rope dragged squarely across the tossing boat.
In a trice the men grabbed it, and made it fast. Then Tom had
another difficult task--that of not allowing the rope to become
taut, or the drag of the boat, and the uplift of the airship might
have snapped it in twain. But he handled his delicate craft of the
air as confidently as the captain of a big liner brings her
skillfully to the deck against wind and tide.
"Climb up! Climb up!" yelled Tom, through the megaphone, and he saw,
not a man, but a woman, ascending the knotted rope, hand over hand,
toward the airship that hovered above her head.
Chapter XVI Koku's Prisoner
"Bless my knitting needles!" cried Mr. Damon, as he looked down, and
saw, in the glare of the great light, the figure of the woman
clinging to the swaying rope. "Help her, someone! Tom! Ned! She'll
The eccentric man started to rush from the motor room, where he had
been helping Ned. But the latter cried:
"Stay where you are, Mr. Damon. No one can reach her now without
danger to himself and her. She can climb up, I think."
Past knot after knot the woman passed, mounting steadily upward,
with a strength that seemed remarkable.
"Come on!" cried Tom to the others. "Don't wait until she gets up.
There isn't time. Come on--the rope will hold you all! Climb up!"
The men in the tossing and bobbing motor boat heard, and at once
began, one after the other, to clamber up the rope. There were five
of them, as could be seen in the glare of the light, and Tom, as he
watched, wondered what they were doing out in the terrific storm at
that early hour of the morning, and with a lone woman.
"Stand by to help her, Koku!" called Ned to the giant.
"I help," was the giant's simple reply, and as the woman's head came
above the rail, over which the rope ran, Koku, leaning forward,
raised her in his powerful arms, and set her carefully on the deck.
"Come into the cabin, please," Ned called to her. "Come in out of
"Oh, it seems a miracle that we are saved!" the woman gasped, as,
rain-drenched and wind-tossed, she staggered toward the door which
Tom had opened by means of a lever in the pilot house. The young
inventor had his hands full, manipulating the airship so as to keep
it above the motor boat, and not bring too great a strain on the
The woman passed into the cabin, which was between the motor room
and the pilot house, and Ned saw her throw herself on her knees, and
offer up a fervent prayer of thanksgiving. Then, springing to her
feet, she cried:
"My husband? Is he safe? Can you save him? Oh, how wonderful that
this airship came in answer to our appeals to Providence. Whose is
Before Ned got a chance to answer her, as she came to the door of
the motor room, a man's voice called:
"My wife! Is she safe?"
"Yes, here I am," replied the woman, and a moment later the two were
in each other's arms.
"The others; are they safe?" gasped the woman, after a pause.
"Yes," replied the man. "They are coming up the rope. Oh, what a
wonderful rescue! And that giant man who lifted us up on deck! Oh,
do you recall in Africa how we were also rescued by airship--"
"Come on now, I got you!" interrupted the voice of Koku out on the
after deck, and there was a series of thumps that told when he had
lifted the men over the rail, and set them down.
"All saved!" cried the giant at last.
"Then cut the rope!" shouted Tom. "We've got to get out of this, for
it's growing worse!"
There was the sound of a hatchet blow, and the airship shot upward.
Into the cabin came the dripping figures of the other men, and Ned,
as he stood by the great searchlight, felt a wave of wonder sweep
over him as he listened to the voices of the first man and woman.
He knew he had heard them before, and, when he listened to the
remark about a rescue by airship, in Africa, a flood of memory came
"Can it be possible that these are the same missionaries whom Tom
and I rescued from the red pygmies?" he murmured. "I must get a look
"Our boat, it is gone I suppose," remarked one of the other men,
coming into the motor room.
"I'm afraid so," answered Ned, as he played the light on the doomed
craft. Even as he did so he saw a great wave engulf her, and, a
moment later she sank. "She's gone," he said softly.
"Too bad!" exclaimed the man. "She was a fine little craft. But how
in the world did you happen along to rescue us? Whose airship is
"Tom Swift's," answered Ned, and, at the sound of the name the woman
uttered a cry, as she rushed into the motor room.
"Tom Swift!" she exclaimed. "Where is he? Oh, can it be possible
that it is the same Tom Swift that rescued us in Africa?"
"I think it is, Mrs. Illingway," spoke Ned quietly, for he now
recognized the missionary, though he wondered what she and her
husband were doing so far from the Dark Continent.
"Oh, I know you--you're Ned Newton--Tom's chum! Oh, I am so glad!
Where is Tom?"
"In the pilot house. He'll be here in a moment."
Tom came in at that juncture, having set the automatic steering geer
to take the ship on her homeward course.
"Are they all saved?" he asked, looking at the little group of
persons who had climbed up from the motor boat. "Mr. Damon, you had
better make some hot coffee. Koku, you help. I--"
"Tom Swift!" cried out Mr. and Mrs. Illingway together, as they made
a rush for the young inventor. "Don't you know us?"
To say that Tom was surprised at this, would be putting it mildly.
He had to lean up against the side of the cabin for support.
"Mrs. Illingway!" he gasped. "You here--were you in that boat?"
"Yes. it's all very simple. My husband and I are on a vacation for a
year. We got fever and had to leave Africa. We are staying with
friends at a resort on the lake shore. These are our friends," she
went on, introducing the other gentlemen.
"We went out for a trip in the motor boat," the missionary
continued, "but we went too far. Our motor broke down, we could get
no help, and the storm came up. We thought we were doomed, until we
saw your lights. I guessed it was a balloon, or some sort of an
airship, and we whistled; and called for help. Then you rescued us!
Oh, it is almost too wonderful to believe. It is a good thing I have
practiced athletics or I never could have climbed that rope."
"It is like a story from a book!" added Mr. Illingway, as he grasped
Tom's hand. "You rescued us in Africa and again here." I may say
here that the African rescue is told in detail in the volume
entitled, "Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle."
The shipwrecked persons were made as comfortable as possible. There
was plenty of room for them, and soon they were sitting around warm
electric heaters, drinking hot coffee, and telling their adventures
over again. Mr. and Mrs. Illingway said they soon expected to return
Tom told how he happened to be sailing over the lake, on the lookout
for smugglers, and how he had been disappointed.
"And it's a good thing you were--for our sakes," put in Mrs.
Illingway, with a smile.
"Where do you want to be landed?" asked Tom. "I don't want to take
you all the way back to Logansville."
"If you will land us anywhere near a city or town, we can arrange to
be taken back to our cottage," said one of the men, and Tom sent the
airship down until, in the gray dawn of the morning, they could pick
out a large village on the lake shore. Then, in much better
condition than when they had been saved, the rescued ones alighted,
showering Tom and the others with thanks, and sought a hotel.
"And now for our camp, and a good rest!" cried the young inventor,
as he sent the airship aloft again.
They reached their camp in the forest clearing without having been
observed, as far as they could learn, and at once set about making
things snug, for the storm was still raging.
"I don't believe any of the smugglers were abroad last night,"
remarked Mr. Whitford, as he prepared to go back into town, he
having come out on horseback, leaving the animal over night in an
improvised stable they had made in the woods of boughs and tree
"I hope not," replied Tom, but the next day, when the government
agent called again, his face wore a look of despair.
"They put a big one over on us the night of the rescue." he said.
"They flew right across the border near Logansville, and got away
with a lot of goods. They fooled us all right."
"Can you find out who gave the wrong tip?" asked Tom.
"Yes, I know the man. He pretended to be friendly to one of my
agents, but he was only deceiving him. But we'll get the smugglers
"That's what we will!" cried Tom, determinedly.
Several days passed, and during the night time Tom, in his airship,
and with the great searchlight aglow, flew back and forth across the
border, seeking the elusive airships, but did not see them. In the
meanwhile he heard from Mr. and Mrs. Illingway, who sent him a
letter of thanks, and asked him to come and see them, but, much as
Tom would liked to have gone, he did not have the time.
It was about a week after the sensational rescue, when one evening,
as Tom was about to get ready for a night flight, he happened to be
in the pilot house making adjustments to some of the apparatus.
Mr. Damon and Ned had gone out for a walk in the woods, and Mr.
Whitford had not yet arrived. As for Mr. Koku, Tom did not know
where his giant servant was.
Suddenly there was a commotion outside. A trampling in the bushes,
and the breaking of sticks under feet.
"I got you now!" cried the voice of the giant.
Tom sprang to the window of the pilot house. He saw Koku tightly
holding a man who was squinting about, and doing his best to break
away. But it was useless. When Koku got hold of any one, that person
had to stay.
"What is it, Koku!" cried Tom.
"I got him!" cried the giant. "He sneaking up on airship, but I come
behind and grab him," and Koku fairly lifted his prisoner off his
feet and started with him toward the Falcon.
Chapter XVII What the Indian Saw
"Hello!" cried Tom. "What's up, Koku?"
"Him up!" replied the giant with a laugh, as he looked at his
squirming prisoner, whose feet he had lifted from the ground.
"No, I mean what was he doing?" went on Tom, with a smile at the
literal way in which the giant had answered his question.
"I wasn't doing anything!" broke in the man. "I'd like to know if I
haven't a right to walk through these woods, without being grabbed
up by a man as big as a mountain? There'll be something up that you
won't like, if you don't let me go, too!" and he struggled fiercely,
but he was no match for giant Koku.
"What was he doing?" asked Tom of his big servant, ignoring the man.
Tom looked closely at him, however, but could not remember to have
seen him before.
"I walking along in woods, listen to birds sing," said Koku simply,
taking a firmer hold on his victim. "I see this fellow come along,
and crawl through grass like so a snake wiggle. I to myself think
that funny, and I watch. This man he wiggle more. He wiggle more
still, and then he watch. I watch too. I see him have knife in hand,
but I am no afraid. I begin to go like snake also, but I bigger
snake than he."
"I guess so," laughed Tom, as he watched the man trying in vain to
get out of Koku's grip.
"Then I see man look up at balloon bag, so as if he like to cut it
with knife. I say to myself, 'Koku, it is time for you to go into
business for yourself.' You stand under me?"
"I understand!" exclaimed Tom. "You thought it was time for you to
"Sure," replied Koku. "Well, I get business, I give one jump, and I
am so unlucky as to jump with one foot on him, but I did not mean
it. I go as gentle as I can."
"Gentle? You nearly knocked the wind out of me!" snarled the
prisoner. "Gentle! Huh!"
"I guess he was the unlucky one, instead of you," put in Tom. "Well,
what happened next?"
"I grab him, and--he is still here," said Koku simply. "He throw
knife away though."
"I see," spoke Tom. "Now will you give an account of yourself, or
shall I hand you over to the police?" he asked sternly of the man.
"What were you sneaking up on us in that fashion for?"
"Well, I guess this isn't your property!" blustered the man. "I have
as good a right here as you have, and you can't have me arrested for
"Perhaps not," admitted Tom. "You may have a right on this land, but
if you are honest, and had no bad intentions, why were you sneaking
up, trying to keep out of sight? And why did you have a big knife?"
"That's my business, young man."
"All right, then I'll make it my business, too," went on the young
inventor. "Hold him, Koku, until I can find Mr. Damon, or Ned, and
I'll see what's best to be done. I wish Mr. Whitford was here."
"Aren't you going to let me go?" demanded the man.
"I certainly am not!" declared Tom firmly. "I'm going to find out
more about you. I haven't any objections to any one coming to look
at my airship, out of curiosity, but when they come up like a snake
in the grass and with a big knife, then I get suspicious, and I want
to know more about them."
"Well, you won't know anything more about me!" snarled the fellow.
"And it will be the worse for you, if you don't let me go. You'd
better!" he threatened.
"Don't pay any attention to him, Koku," said Tom. "Maybe you'd
better tie him up. You'll find some rope in the motor room."
"Don't you dare tie me up!" blustered the prisoner.
"Go ahead and tie him," went on Tom. "You'll be free to guard the
ship then. I'll go for Ned and Mr. Damon."
"Tie who up? What's the matter?" asked a voice, and a moment later
the government agent came along the woodland path on his horse.
"What's up, Tom? Have you captured a wild animal?"
"Not exactly a wild animal. Mr. Whitford. But a wild man. I'm glad
you came along. Koku has a prisoner." And Tom proceeded to relate
what had happened.
"Sneaking up on you with a knife; eh? I guess he meant business all
right, and bad business, too," said Mr. Whitford. "Let me get a look
at him, Tom," for Koku had taken his prisoner to the engine room,
and there, amid a storm of protests and after a futile struggle on
the part of the fellow, had tied him securely.
Tom and the custom officer went in to look at the man, just as Ned
and Mr. Damon came back from their stroll in the woods. It was
rapidly getting dusk, and was almost time for the start of the usual
flight, to see if any trace could be had of the smugglers.
"There he is," said Tom, waving his hand toward the bound man who
sat in a chair in one corner of the motor room. The young inventor
switched on the light, and a moment later Mr. Whitford exclaimed:
"Great Scott! It's Ike Shafton!"
"Do you know him?" asked Tom eagerly.
"Know him? I should say I did! Why he's the man who pretended to
give one of my men information about smugglers that drew us off on
the false scent. He pretended to be for the government, and, all the
while, he was in with the smugglers! Know him? I should say I did!"
A queer change had come over the prisoner at the sight of Mr.
Whitford. No longer was Shafton surly and blustering. Instead he
seemed to slink down in his chair, bound as he was, as if trying to
get out of sight.
"Why did you play double?" demanded the government agent, striding
over to him.
"I--I--don't hit me!" whined Shafton.
"Hit you! I'm not going to hit you!" exclaimed Mr. Whitford, "but
I'm going to search you, and then I'm going to wire for one of my
men to take you in custody."
"I--I didn't do anything!"
"You didn't; eh? Well, we'll see what the courts think of giving
wrong information to Uncle Sam with the intent to aid criminals.
Let's see what he's got in his pockets."
The spy did not have much, but at a sight of one piece of paper Mr.
Whitford uttered a cry of surprise.
"Ha! This is worth something!" he exclaimed. "It may be stale news,
and it may be something for the future, but it's worth trying. I
wonder I didn't think of that before."
"What is it?" asked Tom.
For answer the custom officer held out a scrap of paper on which was
written one word.
"What does it mean," asked Ned, who, with Mr. Damon, had entered the
motor room, and stood curiously regarding the scene.
"Bless my napkin ring!" said the odd man. "That's the name of a
hotel. Do you suppose the smugglers are stopping there?"
"Hardly," replied Mr. Whitford with a smile. "But St. Regis is the
name of an Indian reservation in the upper part of New York state,
right on the border, and in the corner where the St. Lawrence and
the imaginary dividing line between New York and Canada join. I
begin to see things now. The smugglers have been flying over the
Indian Reservation, and that's why they have escaped us so far. We
never thought of that spot. Tom, I believe we're on the right track
at last! Shafton was probably given this to inform him where the
next trick would be turned, so he could get us as far away as
possible, or, maybe prevent us leaving at all."
An involuntary start on the part of the prisoner seemed to confirm
this, but he kept silent.
"Of course," went on Mr. Whitford, "they may have already flown over
the St. Regis reservation, and this may be an old tip, but it's
worth following up."
"Why don't you ask him?" Tom wanted to know, as he nodded toward
"He wouldn't tell the truth. I'll put him where he can't get away to
warn his confederates, and then we'll go to the reservation. And to
think that my man trusted him!"
Mr. Whitford was soon in communication with his headquarters by
means of the wireless apparatus on Tom's airship, and a little later
two custom officers arrived, with an extra horse on which they were
to take their prisoner back.
"And now we'll try our luck once more," said Mr. Whitford as his men
left with Shafton securely bound. "Can you make the reservation in
good time, Tom? It's quite a distance," and he pointed it out on the
"Oh, I'll do it," promised the young inventor, as he sent his
powerful craft aloft in the darkness. Then, with her nose pointed in
the right direction, the Falcon beat her way forward through the
night, flying silently, with the great searchlight ready for instant
In comparatively short time, though it was rather late at night,
they reached the St. Lawrence, and then it was an easy matter to
drop down into the midst of the reservation grounds. Though the
redmen, whom the state thus quartered by themselves, had all
retired, they swarmed out of their cabins as the powerful light
flashed back and forth.
"We want to question some of the head men of the tribe," said Mr.
Whitford. "I know some of them, for on several occasions I've had to
come here to look into rumors that tobacco and liquor and other
contraband goods dear to the Indian heart were smuggled into the
reservation against the law. I never caught any of them at it
With guttural exclamations, and many grunts of surprise, the
redmen gathered around the big airship. It was too much even for
their usual reserve, and they jabbered among themselves.
"How Big Foot!" greeted the custom officer, to one Indian who had an
extremely large left foot. "How!"
"How!" responded the Indian, with a grunt.
"Plenty much fine air-bird; eh?" and the agent waved his hand toward
"Yep. Plenty much big."
"Big Foot never see bird like this; eh?"
"Oh sure. Big Foot see before many times. Huh!"
"What! Has he seen this before?" asked Tom.
"No. Wait a minute," cautioned Mr. Whitford. "I'm on the track of
something. Big Foot see air-bird like this?" he questioned.
"Sure. Fly over Indians' land many times. Not same as him," and he
nodded toward Tom's ship, "but plenty much like. Make heap noise.
Come down once--break wheel mebby. Indians help fix. Indians get
firewater. You got firewater in your air-bird?"
"No firewater, but maybe we've got some tobacco, if you tell us what
we want to know, Big Foot. And so you've seen air-birds flying
around here before?"
"Sure, Heap times. We all see," and he waved his hand to indicate
the redmen gathered around him.
There came grunts of confirmation.
"We're getting there!" exclaimed Mr. Whitford to Tom. "We're on the
right track now. Which way air-birds come, Big Foot?"
"Over there," and he pointed toward Canada.
"Which way go?"
"Over there," and he pointed toward the east, in the direction of
Shopton, as much as anywhere.
"That's what we want to know. Tom, we'll just hang around here for a
while, until one of the smugglers' airships pass over head. I
believe one is due to-night, and that's why Shafton had that paper.
It was sent to him to tip him off. He was sneaking up, trying to put
your airship out of commission when Koku caught him. These Indians
have used their eyes to good advantage. I think we're on the trail
"Baccy for Big Foot?" asked the redman.
"Yes, plenty of it. Tom, give them some of Koku's, will you? I'll
settle with you later," for the giant had formed a liking for the
weed, and Tom did not have the heart to stop him smoking a pipe once
in a while. With his usual prodigality, the giant had brought along
a big supply, and some of this was soon distributed among the
Indians, who grunted their thanks.
Chapter XVIII The Pursuit
"What plan have you in mind?" asked Tom of Mr. Whitford, when some
of the Indians had gone back to their shanties, leaving a few
staring curiously at the airship, as she rested on the ground,
bathed in the glow of her electric lights.
"Well, I think the best thing we can do is just to stay right here,
Tom; all night if need be. As Big Foot says, there have been
airships passing overhead at frequent intervals. Of course that is
not saying that they were the smugglers, but I don't see who else
they could be. There's no meet going on, and no continental race.
They must be the smugglers."
"I think so," put in Ned.
"Bless my diamond ring!" exclaimed Mr. Damon. "But what are you
going to do when you see them overhead?"
"Take after them, of course!" exclaimed Tom. "That's what we're here
for; isn't it Mr. Whitford?"
"Yes. Do you think you can rise from the ground, and take after them
in time to stand a chance of overhauling them, Tom? You know they
may go very fast."
"I know, but I don't believe they can beat the Falcon. I'd rather
wait down here than hover in the air. It isn't as dark as it was the
other night, and they might see us with their glasses. Then they
would turn back, and we'd have our trouble for nothing. They've
actually got to cross the border with smuggled goods before the law
can touch them; haven't they?"
"Yes, I couldn't arrest them on Canadian territory, or over it. I've
got to get them on this side of the border. So perhaps it will be as
well to lie here. But do you suppose you can hear them or see them,
as they fly over?"
"I'm pretty sure I can. The sound of their motor and the whizz of
the propellers carries for some distance. And then, too, I'm going
to set the searchlight to play a beam up in the air. If that gets
focused on 'em, we'll spot 'em all right."
"But suppose they see it, and turn back?"
"I don't believe they will. The beam will come from the ground
straight upward you know, and they won't connect it with my ship."
"But that fellow who was sneaking up when Koku caught him, may find
some way to warn them that you have come here," suggested Ned.
"He won't get much chance to communicate with his friends, while my
men have him," said Mr. Whitford significantly. "I guess we'll take
a chance here, Tom."
So it was arranged. Everything on the airship was gotten ready for a
quick flight, and then Tom set his great searchlight aglow once
more. Its powerful beams cut upward to the clouds, making a
"Now all we have to do is to wait and watch," remarked Tom, as he
came back from a last inspection of the apparatus in the motor room.
"And that is sometimes the hardest kind of work," said Mr. Whitford.
"Many a time I have been watching for smugglers for days and nights
at a stretch, and it was very wearying. When I got through, and
caught my man, I was more tired than if I had traveled hundreds of
miles. Just sitting around, and waiting is tiresome work."
The others agreed with him, and then the custom officer told many
stories of his experiences, of the odd places smugglers would hit
upon to conceal the contrabrand goods, and of fights he had taken
"Diamonds and jewels, from their smallness, and from the great
value, and the high duty on them when brought into the United
States, form the chief articles of the high class smugglers," he
said. "In fact the ones we are after have been doing more in
diamonds than anything else, though they have, of late, brought much
valuable hand-made lace. That can be bought comparatively cheap
abroad, and if they can evade paying Uncle Sam the duty on it, they
can sell it in the United States at a large profit."
"But the government has received so many complaints from legitimate
dealers, who can not stand this unfair competition, that we have
been ordered to get the smugglers at any cost."
"They are sharp rascals," commented Mr. Damon. "They seem to be
making more efforts since Tom Swift got on their trail."
"But, just the same, they are afraid of him, and his searchlight,"
declared Mr. Whitford. "I guess they fancied that when they took to
airships to get goods across the border that they would not be
disturbed. But two can play at that game."
The talk became general, with pauses now and then while Tom swept
the sky with the great searchlight, the others straining their eyes
for a sight of the smugglers' airships. But they saw nothing.
The young inventor had just paid a visit to the pilot house, to see
that his wheels and guiding levers were all right, and was walking
back toward the stern of the ship, when he heard a noise there, and
the fall of a heavy body.
"Who's that?" he cried sharply. "Is that you, Koku?"
A grunt was the only answer, and, as Tom called the giant's name the
big man came out.
"What you want, Mr. Tom?" he asked.
"I thought you were at the stern," spoke Tom. "Someone is there.
Ned, throw the light on the stern!" he called sharply.
In a moment that part of the ship was in a bright glare and there,
in the rays of the big lantern, was stretched out Big Foot, the
Indian, comfortably sleeping.
"Here! What are you doing?" demanded Mr. Whitford, giving him a
"Me sleep!" murmured Big Foot. "Lemme be! Me sleep, and take ride to
Happy Hunting Grounds in air-bird. Go 'way!"
"You'll have to sleep somewhere else, Big Foot," spoke the agent
with a laugh. "Koku, put him down under one of the trees over there.
He can finish his nap in the open, it's warm."
The Indian only protested sleepily, as the giant carried him off the
ship, and soon Big Foot was snoring under the trees.
"He's a queer chap," the custom officer said. "Sometimes I think
he's a little off in his head. But he's good natured."
Once more they resumed their watching. It was growing more and more
wearisome, and Tom was getting sleepy, in spite of himself.
Suddenly the silence of the night was broken by a distant humming
and throbbing sound.
"Hark!" cried Ned.
They all listened intently.
"That's an airship, sure enough!" cried Tom.
He sprang to the lever that moved the lantern, which had been shut
off temporarily. An instant later a beam of light cut the darkness.
The throbbing sounded nearer.
"There they are!" cried Ned, pointing from a window toward the sky.
A moment later, right into the glare of the light, there shot a
"After 'em, Tom!" shouted Mr. Whitford.
Like a bird the Falcon shot upward in pursuit noiselessly and
resistlessly, the beam of the great searchlight playing on the other
craft, which dodged to one side in an endeavor to escape.
"On the trail at last!" cried Tom, as he shoved over the accelerator
lever, sending his airship forward on an upward slant, right at the
stern of the smugglers' biplane.
Chapter XIX In Dire Peril
Upward shot the Falcon. With every revolution of her big propellers
she came nearer and nearer to the fleeing craft of the supposed
smugglers who were using every endeavor to escape.
"Do you think you can catch them, Tom?" asked Mr. Whitford as he stood
at the side of our hero in the pilot house, and looked upward and
forward to where, bathed in the light of the great search-lantern, the
rival craft was beating the air.
"I'm sure we can--unless something happens."
"Bless my overshoes! What can happen?" asked Mr. Damon, who, after
finding that everything in the motor room was running smoothly, had
come forward. Ned was attending to the searchlight. "What can
"Almost anything, from a broken shaft to a short-circuited motor.
Only, I hope nothing does occur to prevent us from catching them."
"You don't mean to say that you're actually going to try to catch
them, do you, Tom?" asked the custom officer, "I thought if we could
trail them to the place where they have been delivering the goods,
before they shipped them to Shopton we'd be doing well. But I never
thought of catching them in mid-air."
"I'm going to try it," declared the young inventor. "I've got a
grappling anchor on board," he went on, "attached to a meter and
windlass. If I can catch that anchor in any part of their ship I can
bring them to a stop, just as a fisherman lands a trout. Only I've
got to get close enough to make a cast, and I want to be above them
when I do it."
"Don't you think you can catch them, Tom?" asked Mr. Damon.
"Well, I'm pretty sure I can, and yet they seem to have a faster
biplane than I gave them credit for. I guess I'll have to increase
our speed a little," and he shifted a lever which made the Falcon
shoot along at nearly doubled speed.
Still the other airship kept ahead, not far, but sufficiently so to
prevent the grappling anchor from being tossed at her rail.
"I wonder if they are the smugglers?" questioned Mr. Damon. "It
might be possible, Tom, that we're chasing the wrong craft."
"Possible, but not probable," put in Mr. Whitford. "After the clew
we got, and what the Indians told us, and then to have a biplane
come sailing over our heads at night, it's pretty sure to be the one
we want. But, Tom, can't you close up on 'em?"
"I'm going to try. The machinery is warmed up now, and I'll send it
to the limit."
Once more he adjusted the wheels and levers, and at his touch the
Falcon seemed to gain new strength. She fairly soared through the
Eagerly those in the pilot house watched the craft they were
pursuing. She could be seen, in the glare of the big searchlight,
like some bird of gloom and evil omen, fluttering along ahead of
"They certainly have a fine motor!" cried Tom. "I was sure I could
have caught up to them before this."
"How do you account for it?" asked Mr. Damon.
"Well, they're flying a good deal lighter than we are. They probably
have no load to speak of, while we carry a heavy one, to say nothing
"Diamonds aren't very heavy," put in Mr. Whitford grimly. "I think
they are smuggling diamonds to-night. How I wish we could catch
them, or trace them to where they have their headquarters."
"We'll do it!" declared Tom.
"Bless my stars! They've gone!" suddenly exclaimed Mr. Damon.
"They've disappeared, Tom, I can't see them."
It was indeed true. Those in the pilot house peering ahead through
the darkness, could not get a glimpse of the airship they were
pursuing. The beam of the searchlight showed nothing but a black
All at once the beam shifted downward, and then it picked up the
"They went down!" cried Tom. "They tried to drop out of sight."
"Can't you get them?" asked Mr. Whitford.
"Oh, yes, we can play that game too. I'll do a little volplaning
myself," and the young inventor shut off the power and coasted
earthward, while Ned, who had picked up the forward craft, kept the
searchlight playing on her.
And now began a wonderful chase. The smugglers' craft, for such she
proved later to be, did her best to dodge the Falcon. Those managing
the mechanism of the fleeing airship must have been experts, to hold
out as they did against Tom Swift, but they had this advantage, that
their craft was much lighter, and more powerfully engined as regards
her weight. Then, too, there were not so many on board, and Tom,
having a combined balloon and aeroplane, had to carry much
It was like the flight of two big birds in the air. Now the
smugglers' craft would be mounting upward, with the Falcon after
her. Again she would shoot toward the earth, and Tom would follow,
with a great downward swoop.
Ned kept the great lantern going, and, though occasionally the craft
they were after slipped out of the focus of the beams, the young
bank clerk would pick her up again.
To the right and left dodged the forward airship, vainly endeavoring
to shake off Tom Swift, but he would not give up. He followed move
for move, swoop for swoop.
"She's turning around!" suddenly cried Mr. Damon. "She's given up
the flight, Tom, and is going back!"
"That's so!" agreed Mr. Whitford. "They're headed for Canada, Tom.
We've got to catch 'em before they get over the Dominion line!"
"I'll do it!" cried Tom, between his clenched teeth.
He swung his airship around in a big circle, and took after the
fleeing craft. The wind was against the smugglers now, and they
could not make such good speed, while to Tom the wind mattered not,
so powerful were the propellers of the Falcon.
"I think we're gaining on them," murmured Mr. Damon.
Suddenly, from the engine room, came a cry from Ned.
"Tom! Tom!" he shouted, "Something is wrong with the gas machine!
She registers over five hundred pounds pressure, and that's too
much. It's going up, and I haven't touched it!"
"Mr. Damon, take the wheel!" exclaimed the young inventor. "I've got
to see what's wrong. Hold her right on their trail."
Tom sprang to the motor room, and one glance at the gas generating
machine showed him that they were in dire peril. In some manner the
pressure was going up enormously, and if it went up much more the
big tank would blow to pieces.
"What is it?" cried Ned, from his position near the light.
"I don't know! Something wrong."
"Are you going to give up the chase?"
"I am not. Stick to the light. Koku, tell Mr. Damon to hold her on
the course I set. I'll try to get this pressure down!" And Tom Swift
began to work feverishly, while his ship rushed on through the night
in danger, every moment, of being blown to atoms. Yet the young
inventor would not give up, and descend to earth.
Chapter XX Suspicious Actions
The chase was kept up, and Tom, when he had a chance to look up at
the speed register, as he labored frantically at the clogged gas
machine, saw that they were rushing along as they never had before.
"Are we catching them, Ned?" he cried to his chum, who was not far
away, playing the powerful light on the smugglers' craft.
"I think we're coming closer, but it's going to be a long chase. I
don't see why we can't close up on 'em."
"Because they've got a very fast ship, Ned, and they are flying much
lighter than we are. But we'll get 'em!"
"How are you making out with that gas machine?"
"Well, I'm doing all I can, but I can't seem to get the pressure
down. I can't understand it. Some of the pipes must be clogged with
a carbon deposit. I ought to have cleaned them out some time ago."
Ned gave a hasty glance at the gauge which showed the gas pressure.
It registered six hundred pounds now, having risen a hundred in a
"And she'll go up, sure, at eight hundred," murmured Ned, as he held
the light steadily on the smugglers' aircraft. "Well, if Tom sticks
to the chase, I will too, but I think it would be better to go down,
open up everything, and let the gas escape. We could get the rascals
Tom, however, did not seem to think so, for he kept on with his
task, working away at the pipes, trying to force the obstruction
out, so that the gas from the generator would flow into the bag. At
the same time he tried to shut off the generating apparatus, but
that had become jammed in consequence of the pipe clogging, and the
powerful vapor continued to manufacture itself automatically in
spite of all that Tom could do.
The only safe way out of the danger, unless he could remove the
obstruction, was to descend to earth, and, as Ned had said, open
every outlet. But to have done that in mid-air would have been
dangerous, as the large volume of gas, suddenly liberated, would
have hung about the airship in a cloud, smothering all on board. If
they were on the earth they could run away from it, and remain away
until the vapor had blown off.
"Is Mr. Damon keeping her on the course, Ned?" asked Tom, pausing a
moment to get his breath after a series of frantic efforts.
"Yes, and I think we're closing in on them a little."
"That's good. Are they still headed for the border?"
"Yes, I guess they're going to take no chances to-night. They're
going right back to Canada where they came from."
"Well, we'll be hot after 'em. Whistle through the tube, and tell
Koku to come here and give me a hand. He's with Mr. Damon in the
Ned sent the message, and then gave his whole attention to the
light. This was necessary, as the smugglers were resorting to
dodging tactics, in an endeavor to escape. Now they would shoot
upward, and again toward the earth, varying the performance by
steering to the right or left. Ned had constantly to shift the light
to keep them in focus, so that Mr. Damon could see where to steer,
but, with all this handicap, the eccentric man did very well, and he
was never far out in his judgment.
"By Jove!" suddenly murmured Tom, as he tried once more in vain to
open a clogged valve. "I'm afraid we can't do it. Koku, lend a hand
here!" he exclaimed as the giant entered. "See if you can twist this
wrench around, but don't break off the handle, whatever you do."
"Me shove," replied the giant simply, as he grasped the big wrench.
Once more Ned glanced at the pressure gage. It showed seven hundred
pounds now, and there was only a margin of safety of one hundred
pounds more, ere a terrific explosion would occur. Still Tom had not
given the order to descend to earth.
"Are you going to make it, Tom?" asked the government agent,
anxiously, as he stood over the young inventor.
"I--I think so," panted Tom. "Are we near the Dominion line,"
"Pretty close," was the discouraging answer. "I'm afraid we can't
get 'em before they cross. Can you use any more speed?"
"I don't know. Ned, see if you can get another notch out of her."
With one hand Ned reached for the accelerator lever on the wall near
him, and pulled it to the last notch. The Falcon shot ahead with
increased speed, but, at the same instant there came a gasp from
Koku, and the sound of something breaking.
"There! He's done it!" cried Tom in despair. "I was afraid you'd be
too strong for that wrench, Koku. You've broken off the handle. Now
we'll never be able to loosen that valve."
Ned gave one more glance at the pressure gage. It showed seven
hundred and fifty pounds, and the needle was slowly moving onward.
"Hadn't we better descend," asked Mr. Whitford in a low voice.
"I--I guess so," answered Tom, despairingly. "Where are we?"
Ned flashed the light downward for an instant.
"Just crossing over the St. Regis Indian reservation again," he
replied. "We'll be in Canada in a few minutes more."
"Where are the smugglers?"
"Still ahead, and they're bearing off to the right."
"Going toward Montford," commented the government man. "We've lost
'em for to-night, anyhow, but they didn't get their goods landed, at
"Send her down, Ned!" exclaimed Tom, and it was high time, for the
pressure was now within twenty-five pounds of the exploding point.
Down shot the Falcon, while her rival passed onward triumphantly in
the darkness. Ned held the light on the smugglers as long as he
dared, and then he flashed it to earth to enable Mr. Damon to pick
out a good landing place.
In a few moments Tom's silent airship came to rest on a little
clearing in the forest, and Tom, with Ned's help, at once opened
every outlet of the gas machine, a thing they had not dared do while
up in the air.
"Come on, now, run, everybody!" cried Tom. "Otherwise you'll he
They leaped from the craft, about which gathered the fumes of the
powerful gas, as it hissed from the pipes. Running a hundred yards
away they were safe, and could return in a few minutes.
"We're in Canada," remarked Mr. Whitford, as they came to a halt,
watching the airship.
"How do you know?" asked Ned.
"As we landed I saw one of the stone boundary posts," was the
answer. "We're on English territory, and we can't touch the
smugglers if we should see them now."
"Well, we'll soon be back in Uncle Sam's land," declared Tom. "We
can go back on board the Falcon to sleep shortly. Jove! I wish I
could have caught those fellows!"
"Never mind, we'll get 'em yet," counseled Mr. Whitford.
Waiting until he was sure all the vapor had disappeared, Tom led the
way back to the Falcon. No great harm had been done, save to lose
considerable gas, and this could be remedied. Tired and disappointed
from the chase, they sought their bunks, and were soon asleep. In
the morning Tom and Ned began work on the clogged pipes.
This work was nearly accomplished by noon, when Mr. Damon, coming
back from a stroll, announced that they were but fifteen minutes
walk from the St. Lawrence River, as he had seen the sparkling
waters from a neighboring hill.
"Let's go over and have a look at it," proposed Ned. "We can easily
finish this when we get back. Besides, Tom, we don't want to get to
our regular camp until after dark, anyhow."
The young inventor was willing, and the two lads, with Mr. Whitford,
strolled toward the historic stream. As they drew near the bank,
they saw, anchored a little distance out, a small steamer.
Approaching it, as if she had just left the shore at a point near
where our friends stood, was a gasolene launch, containing several
men, while on shore, in front of a small shanty, stood another man.
This latter individual, at the sight of Tom, Ned and Mr. Whitford,
blew a shrill whistle. Those in the launch looked back. The man on
shore waved a red flag in a peculiar way, almost as the soldiers in
the army wig-wag signals.
In another moment the launch turned about, and put for shore, while
the lone man hurried back into the hut.
"Hum!" remarked Tom. "Those are queer actions."
"Suspicious actions, I should say," said Mr. Whitford. "I'm going to
see what this means."
Chapter XXI Mr. Period Arrives
Greatly interested in what was about to take place, and not a little
suspicious, our friends stood on the bank of the river and watched
the motor boat returning. As it reached a little dock in front of
the hut, the man who had waved the red flag of warning came out, and
talked rapidly to those in the power craft. At the same time he
pointed occasionally to Tom, Ned and the government agent.
"This is getting interesting," remarked Mr. Whitford. "We may have
accidentally stumbled on something important Tom."
"See, they're signalling to the steamer now," spoke Ned, and, as he
said this, his companions looked, and noted the man from the hut
waving a white flag, in a peculiar manner. His signals were answered
by those on the vessel anchored out in the stream, and, a little
later, black smoke could be seen pouring from her funnel.
"Looks as if they were getting ready to leave," spoke Tom.
"Yes, we seem to have started things moving around here," observed
"Or else we have prevented from moving," remarked the custom agent.
"What do you mean?" Tom wanted to know.
"I mean that these men were evidently going to do something just as
we arrived, and spoiled their plans. I would say they were going to
land goods from that schooner. Now they are not."
"What kind of goods?" asked Ned.
"Well, of course I'm not sure, but I should say smuggled goods."
"The smugglers!" cried Tom. "Why, they can't be smugglers, for we
are on Canadian territory. The river isn't the dividing line between
the Dominion and the United States at this point. The St. Lawrence
lies wholly in Canada here, and the men have a right to land any
goods they want to, dutiable or not."
"That's just it." put in Mr. Whitford. "They have the right, but
they are afraid to exercise it, and that's what makes me suspicious.
If they were doing a straight business they wouldn't be afraid, no
matter who saw them. They evidently recognize us, by description, if
by no other means, and they know we are after smugglers. That's why
they stopped the bringing of goods from that vessel to shore. They
want to wait until we are gone."
"But we couldn't stop them from landing goods, even if they know we
are working for Uncle Sam," declared Tom.
"That's very true, but it is evidently their intention, not only to
land goods here, which they have a perfect right to do, but to send
them into the United States, which they have not a right to do
without paying the duty."
"Then you really think they are the smugglers?" asked Ned.
"I'm pretty sure of it. I think we have stumbled on one of the
places where the goods are landed, and where they are loaded into
the airships. This is the best luck we could have, and it more than
makes up for not catching the rascals last night. Now we know where
to get on their trail."
"If they don't change the place," observed Tom.
"Oh, of course, we've got to take that chance."
"Here's one of them coming over to speak to us, I guess," remarked
Tom in a low voice, as he observed the man, who had waved the flag
approaching. There was no doubt of his intention for, as soon as he
came within talking distance, the stranger called out:
"What are you fellows doing here?"
"Looking at the river," replied Mr. Whitford, calmly.
"Well, you'd better find some other place for a view. This is
private property, and we don't like trespassers. Get a move on--get
"Are we doing any harm?" asked the agent.
"I didn't say you were. This is our land, and we don't like
strangers snooping around. That's all."
"Particularly when you are going to land some goods."
"What do you mean?" gasped the man.
"I guess you know well enough," was Mr. Whitford's reply.
The man suddenly turned, and gave a shrill whistle. Instantly, from
the hut, came several men who had been in the motor boat. One or two
of them had weapons.
"I guess you'd better go now," said the first man sharply. "You're
not in the United States now, you know."
"It's easy to see that, by the politeness of the residents of this
section," put in Tom.
"None of your back talk! Get away from here!" cried the man. "If you
don't go peaceably--"
"Oh, we're going," interposed Mr. Whitford calmly. "But that isn't
saying we won't come back. Come on, boys. We'll get over on Uncle
The group of men stood silently watching them, as they filed back
through the woods.
"What do you make of it?" asked Tom of the agent.
"I'm positive that I'm right, and that they're the smugglers. But I
can't do anything on this side of the line. If ever I can catch them
across the border, though, there'll be a different story to tell."
"What had we better do?" inquired Ned.
"Go back to our airship, and leave for Logansville. We don't need to
land until night, though, but we can make a slow trip. Is the gas
machine all right again, Tom?"
"Practically so. If that hadn't gone back on me we would have had
those fellows captured by this time."
"Never mind. We did our best."
It did not take Tom and his chum long to complete the repairs, and
soon they arose in the air.
"Let's take a flight over where those fellows are, just to show them
what we can do," proposed Ned, and Tom and Mr. Whitford agreed to
it. Soon they were circling over the hut. The launch was just
starting out again, when a cry from the man who seemed to be a sort
of guard, drew the attention of his confederates to the noiseless
Once more the launch was turned about, and sent back to shore, while
those in it shook their fists at Tom and his friends.
"We can play tag with 'em up here!" chuckled Ned.
"There's the small vessel that pulled up anchor a while ago,"
remarked Mr. Whitford, pointing to the vessel which had steamed
around a wooded point. "They thought we had gone for good, and they
were getting ready to land the stuff. Well, we'll know where to head
for next time, when we watch for the smugglers at night."
Realizing that nothing more could be done, Tom sent his airship
toward the camp, just outside of Loganville. But he did not land
until after dark, when, making out the spot by means of the electric
lights, which were set aglow automatically at dark, he descended.
"We won't try anything to-night," said Mr. Whitford. "I doubt if the
smugglers will themselves, after their experience last night. I'll
get into town, see some of my men, and come out here to-morrow night
Tom and Ned spent the following day in going carefully over the
Falcon, making some slight repairs. The great searchlight was
cleaned and adjusted, and then, as dusk came on once more Tom
"Well, we're ready for 'em any time Mr. Whitford is."
Hardly had he spoken than the tramp of horses' feet was heard coming
along the bridle path through the woods, and a voice was heard to
"There, now, I understand it perfectly! You don't need to say
another word. I know it may be against the regulations, but I can
fix that. I'm the busiest man in the world, but I just had to come
up here and see Tom Swift. It's costing me a thousand dollars, but
the money is well spent. Now don't interrupt me! I know what you're
going to say! That you haven't time to bother with moving pictures.
But you have! I must have some moving pictures of your chase after
the smugglers. Now, don't speak to me, I know all about it. You
can't tell me anything. I'll talk to Tom. Are we most there?"
"Yes, we're here," answered Mr. Whitford's voice, and Tom fancied
the government agent was a bit puzzled by his strange companion.
"Bless my shoe string!" gasped Mr. Damon.
"Him picture man!" cried Koku.
"Mr. Period!" exclaimed Tom. "I wonder what he is doing here?" and
the next moment the excitable little man, for whom Tom had run so
many risks getting marvelous moving pictures, with the wizard
camera, entered the clearing where the airship was anchored.
Chapter XXII Hovering O'er the Border
"Well, Tom, you see I couldn't get along without you," exclaimed Mr.
Period, as he rushed forward and grasped Tom's hand, having alighted
in rather an undignified manner from the horse that he had ridden.
"I'm after you again."
"So I see." remarked our hero. "But I'm afraid I can't--"
"Tut! Tut! Don't say that," interrupted the moving picture man. "I
know what you're going to say. Don't do it! Don't go back on me,
Tom! Have you the wonderful moving picture camera with you."
"I have, Mr. Period, but--"
"Now! Now! That'll do," broke in the excitable little man. "If you
have it, that's enough. I want you to get me some films, showing you
in chase of the smugglers. They'll be great to exhibit in our chain
"How did you know I was here?" asked Tom. "Easily enough. I called
at your house. Your father told me where you were. I came on. It
cost me a thousand dollars--maybe more. I don't care! I've got to
have those films! You'll get them for me; won't you?"
"That's enough! I know what you're going to say. Of course you will!
Now how soon may I expect them. They ought to make a good run. Say
in a week?"
"It all depends on the smugglers," said Mr. Whitford.
"Yes, yes! I understand, of course. I know! This friend of yours has
been very kind to me, Tom. I looked him up as soon as I got to
Logansville, and told him what I wanted. He offered to show me the
way out here, and here I am. Let's have a look at the camera, to see
if it's in good shape. Are you going to have a try for the smugglers
"I think so," answered Tom. "As for the camera, really I've been so
busy I haven't had time to look at it since we started. I guess it's
all right. I don't know what made me bring it along, as I didn't
expect to use it."
"But with your great searchlight it will be just the thing,"
"Yes, I think so," added Mr. Whitford, who had been told about the
"Bless my detective badge!" cried Mr. Damon. "It may be just the
thing, Tom. You can offer moving pictures of the smugglers in court,
"Of course!" added Mr. Period. "Now, Tom, don't disappoint me."
"Well, I suppose I'll have to get the camera out, and set it up,"
conceded Tom with a laugh. "As you say, Mr. Damon, the pictures may
come in valuable. Come, Ned, you get out the camera, and set it up,
while Koku and I see to getting the ship in shape for a flight.
You'll come along, Mr. Period?"
"I don't know. I was thinking of going back. I'm losing about a
hundred dollars a minute by being away from my business."
"You'll have to go back alone," said Mr. Whitford, "as I have to be
with Tom, in case of a capture."
"Ride back alone, through these woods? Never! The smugglers might
catch me, and I'm too valuable a man to go that way! I'll take a
chance in the airship."
Ned busied himself over the wizard camera, which had been stored
away, and Mr. Period went with the young bank clerk to look after
the apparatus. Meanwhile Tom and Koku saw to it that the Falcon was
ready for a quick flight, Mr. Damon and Mr. Whitford lending
whatever aid was necessary. The horses, which the agent and Mr.
Period had ridden, were tethered in the clearing where they could
get food and water.
"Did the smugglers rush anything over last night?" asked Tom.
"No, we evidently had them frightened. But I shouldn't be surprised
but what they made the attempt to-night. We'll go back toward the
St. Regis Indian reservation, where they were getting ready to
unload that steamer, and hover around the border there. Something is
sure to happen, sooner or later."
"I guess that's as good a plan as any," agreed Tom, and in a little
while they started.
All that night they hovered over the border, sailing back and forth,
flashing the great light at intervals to pick up the white wings of
a smuggling airship. But they saw nothing.
Mr. Period was in despair, as he fully counted on a capture being
made while he was present, so that he might see the moving pictures
made. But it was not to be.
The wizard camera was all in readiness, but there was no need to
start the automatic machinery. For, search as Tom and his friends
did for a trace of the smugglers, they could see nothing. They put
on full speed, and even went as far as the limits of the Indian
reservation, but to no purpose. They heard no throbbing motor, no
whizz of great propellers, and saw no white, canvas wings against
the dark background of the sky, as Tom's craft made her way
"I guess we've frightened them away," said Mr. Whitford dubiously,
as it came near morning, and nothing suspicious had been seen or
heard. "They're holding back their goods, Tom until they think they
can take us unawares. Then they'll rush a big shipment over."
"Then's the time we must catch them," declared the young inventor.
"We may as well go back now."
"And not a picture!" exclaimed Mr. Period tragically. "Well, be sure
to get good ones when you do make a capture, Tom."
"I will," promised the young inventor. Then, with a last sweep along
the border he turned the nose of his craft toward Logansville. He
had almost reached the place, and was flying rather low over the
country roads, when Ned called:
"Hark! I hear something!"
The unmistakable noise of a gasolene motor in operation could be
"There they are!" cried Mr. Period.
"Bless my honeysuckle vine!" gasped Mr. Damon.
"The light, Ned, the light!" cried Tom.
His chum flashed the powerful beam all around the horizon, and
toward the sky, but nothing was visible.
"Try down below," suggested Mr. Whitford.
Ned sent the beams earthward. And there, in the glare, they saw a
youth speeding along on a motor-cycle. In an instant Tom grabbed up
the binoculars and focussed them on the rider.
"It's Andy Foger!" he cried.
Chapter XXIII Ned Is Missing
There was a period of silence, following Tom's startling
announcement. There were several plate glass windows in the floor of
the airship, and through these they all gazed at the youth on the
motor-cycle. Only Tom, however, by the aid of the glasses, was able
to make out his features.
"Bless my spark plug! Andy Foger!" cried Mr. Damon. "Are you going
to try to catch him?"
"Get him and break chug-chug machine!" suggested Koku.
"What do you suppose he's up to, Tom?" asked Ned.
"Andy Foger speeding along at this hour of the morning," remarked
Mr. Whitford. "There must be something in the wind."
"Get a moving picture of him," urged Mr. Period. "I might be able to
"I hardly think it would be worth while," decided Tom. "You see Andy
hasn't done anything criminal, as far as we know. Of course I think
he is capable of it, but that's a different thing. He may be out
only on a pleasure jaunt, and he could stop us from showing the
pictures, if we took them."
"That's so," agreed Mr. Period. "Don't run any risks of a lawsuit.
It takes up too much of my time. Never mind the pictures."
"Just capture him, Tom, and see what he is doing," suggested Mr.
Damon. "Bless my chewing gum! But he must be up to something."
"Well, he's aware of the fact that we're watching him, at all
events!" exclaimed Mr. Whitford, for, at that moment, Andy, having
seen the glare of the light, glanced up. They could see him looking
at him, and, a second later, the Shopton bully steered his machine
down a side road where the overhanging trees were so thick that he
could not be made out, even by the powerful gleams of the great
"He's gone!" gasped Ned.
"Afraid I guess," added Mr. Damon. "That shows he was up to
something wrong. Well, what are we going to do?"
"Nothing, that I can see," spoke Mr. Whitford. "We can only go back
to our camping place, and make another try. This Andy Foger may, or
may not, be in with the smugglers. That's something we have yet to
prove. However, we can't do anything now."
In vain did Ned try to get the bully within range of the light. They
could hear the sounds of the motor cycle growing more and more
faint, and then, as it was rapidly getting light, and as they did
not want to be seen dropping into their camping place, they made all
haste toward it, before dawn should break.
"Well, I can't spend any more time here," declared Mr. Period, when
a hasty breakfast had been served.
"Will you ride back with me?" asked Mr. Whitford of the moving
"Will I? Well, I guess I will! You can't lose me! I'm not going to
be captured by those smugglers. I'd be a valuable man for them to
have as a hostage. They'd probably ask a million dollars ransom for
me," and Mr. Period carefully straightened his brilliant red
Soon he and Mr. Whitford were riding back to town, taking a
roundabout way, as the agent always did, to throw any possible spies
off the track.
Everyone, even including the giant Koku was tired enough to take a
sleep after dinner. It was about three o'clock when Ned awoke, and
he found Tom already up, and at the wireless instrument, which was
clicking and buzzing.
"Message coming?" asked the young bank clerk.
Tom nodded, and clasped the receiver over his ear. A moment later he
began jotting down a message.
"Mr. Whitford says he has a tip that something is going to take
place to-night," read the young inventor a few minutes later. "The
smugglers have accumulated a big store of goods, and they are
anxious to get them over the border. There are silks, laces,
diamonds, and other things on which there is a high duty, or tax for
bringing into the United States. He will be here early, and we must
be ready for a start at once."
"All right. I guess we are ready now. Say, I'm going over to that
little brook, and see if I can catch a few trout for supper."
"All right. Good idea. Don't be gone too long."
"I won't. Say, where is my coat, anyhow? I never can seem to keep
track of that, or my cap either."
"Never mind. Wear mine, and you won't be delayed looking for them,"
so Ned donned Tom's garment and headpiece, and set out.
Three hours passed, and Mr. Damon prepared to get supper.
"I wonder why Ned doesn't come back with the fish?" he said. "It's
time, if we're going to cook them to-night."
"That's right, he ought to be here," agreed Tom. "Koku take a walk
over to the trout brook, and tell Mr. Ned to come here, whether he
has any fish or not."
"Sure, me go, Mr. Tom!"
Koku was gone perhaps five minutes, and when he came back he was
"Mr. Ned he no there!" the giant cried. "But fish pole all broken,
and ground all full of holes. Look like fight."
Tom started for the place where he knew Ned usually went to fish.
Koku and Mr. Damon followed. On reaching it our hero saw indeed that
the ground was "full of holes," as the giant described the
indentations made by the heels of boots and shoes.
"There's been a fight here!" cried Tom.
"Yes, and Ned is missing," added Mr. Damon.
Chapter XXIV The Night Race
The three looked at each other. For a moment they could not
understand, and then, as they stood there, the meaning came to them.
"The smugglers!" whispered Tom.
"Of course!" agreed Mr. Damon. "And they must have taken him for
you, Tom, for he had on your coat and cap. What can they have done
"Taken him away, that's evident," spoke Tom. "Let's look around, and
see if we can find him."
They looked, but to no purpose. Ned had disappeared. There were the
signs of a struggle, the fish rod was broken in several places, as
if Ned had used it as a club, and the ground was torn up.
"Bless my tin whistle!" cried Mr. Damon. "What shall we do?"
For a moment no one knew what to say, then, as they looked at each
other in silence, a voice called:
"I say! What's up? What's the matter? Where are you all? Hey, Tom
"It's Mr. Whitford!" cried Tom. "He's just in time." Then he called
in louder tones:
"Here we are! In the woods by the trout brook! Come on over! Ned is
There was a commotion in the bushes, the trampling of a horse, and a
moment later the government agent had joined the others.
"What's this?" he cried. "Ned gone? What do you mean?"
"He's missing. The smugglers have him, I'm afraid," explained Tom,
and then he gave the details.
"It certainly looks so," agreed Mr. Whitford. "His wearing of your
coat and cap fooled them. They must have spied out this camping
place, and they were in hiding. When they saw Ned coming to fish
they took him for you. Having failed in their attempt to damage the
airship, they decided to get her captain. Probably they thought that
if they did the Falcon could not be run, and they would be safe. But
they got the wrong man."
"Then we must get Ned back at once!" cried Tom. "Come on, we'll
start right away! Where do you think we can nab them, Mr. Whitford?"
"Wait a minute," suggested the government agent. He seemed in deep
thought, and paced up and down. It was clear that a great question
was confronting him.
"Well!" exclaimed Tom impatiently, "if we're going to get Ned we
must start at once."
"Perhaps it would be best not to try to rescue Ned at once," said
the custom house man after a pause.
"What!" cried Tom. "Not rescue Ned, my best chum?"
"Not at once," repeated Mr. Whitford. "Look here, Tom. I know it
seems a hard thing to say, but perhaps if we proceed on our original
plan, to hover over the border, and get on the trail of the
smugglers, chasing them to where they land the goods in the United
States, it will be best."
"And not rescue Ned?"
"We can best rescue him by catching the smugglers."
"Then you think--"
"That they have him with them--on board one of their airships very
likely. If we get them we'll have Ned."
"Then we'll get 'em!" cried Tom with energy. "Come on back to the
Falcon. We'll get ready for a big flight!"
"Yes, I think they'll make a desperate effort to-night," went on the
agent. "They have a lot of goods ready to rush over the border, and
the fact that they tried to capture you, shows that they are ready
to pull off a big trick. I think if we can catch them to-night, it
will put an end to their operations, and, at the same time, bring
Ned back to us."
"Where do you think they will start to cross the line?" asked Tom.
"Near the place where we saw the man waving the flags. I have
information to the effect that they have a store of valuable goods
there. They imagine that they have the master of the airship, and
the owner of the great searchlight in their power, and that they can
not be molested, so they will be bold."
"But they'll soon find out that Ned isn't Tom," said Mr. Damon.
"No they won't! Not if it depends on Ned!" cried Tom. "Ned is game.
He'll soon get wise to the fact that they have taken him for me, and
he'll carry on the deception. None of the smugglers know me
"Unless Andy Foger should be with them," suggested Mr. Damon.
"Oh, Ned can fool Andy any day. Come on, Mr. Whitford. We'll get the
smugglers to-night, spoil their game, and rescue Ned. Somehow, I
feel that we're going to succeed."
"Bless my tin dishpan!" cried Mr. Damon. "I hope we do."
Slowly, and with no very cheerful hearts, they filed away from the
scene of Ned's capture. In spite of the fact that they did not think
he would be harshly treated, they worried about him, Tom especially.
A hasty supper was eaten, and then, Tom, having seen that everything
aboard the ship was in good order, sent her aloft on what he hoped
would be the last chase after the smugglers. He decided to have Mr.
Damon steer the craft, as this was comparatively easy, once she was
started on her course, while the young inventor would manage the
searchlight, and start the automatic wizard camera, in case there
was anything to photograph.
Up and up went the Falcon, and soon she was making her way toward
the St. Regis Indian reservation, near which it was expected the
smugglers would start. Tom put out every light, as he wanted to
remain in darkness, until he could see a moving glow in the sky that
would tell him of a rival airship on the wing.
It did not take them long to reach the desired spot, and they
hovered in the air over it, every one with tense nerves, waiting for
what would happen next.
Tom did not want to show his searchlight just yet, as he feared the
gleam of it might stop the operations of the smugglers. So he waited
in darkness, approaching close to the earth in his noiseless ship
several times, and endeavoring to see something through the powerful
Suddenly, from below them, came a subdued throb and hum of a motor.
"There they are!" exclaimed Mr. Damon.
"I think so," agreed Tom. He looked below. He saw two flickering
lights, rather far apart. Mr. Whitford observed them at the same
"There are two of them!" exclaimed the agent, "Two
"So I see. Koku, get out my electric rifle. We can't chase two, if
they separate, so I may have to stop one. It's best to be prepared.
I'm going to follow them in the dark, until they get over the
border, and then I'll turn on the light and the camera. Then it will
be a race to the finish."
The twin lights came nearer. Tom stood with his mouth to the signal
tube that communicated with Mr. Damon in the pilot house. From a
side window he watched the smugglers' airships. They shot upward and
then came on straight ahead, to pass to one side of him. Now they
were past. Tom started the wizard camera.
"Half speed ahead!" the young inventor signalled, and the Falcon
shot forward. The night race was on.
Chapter XXV The Capture--Conclusion
"Do you think they know we are here, Tom?" asked Mr. Whitford, as he
stood at the side of the young inventor in the motor room.
"I don't believe so, as yet. They can't hear us, and, unless they
have pretty powerful glasses, they can't pick us up. We can soon
tell however, if they are aware that we are following them."
"Have you made any plan about capturing them?"
"No, I'm going to wait and see what turns up. I can't certainly
chase two of them, if they separate, and that's why I'm going to
cripple one if I have to."
"But won't that be dangerous? I don't want to see any of them
killed, or even hurt, though they are smugglers."
"And I don't want to hurt them, either. If worst comes to worst I'm
going to put a few holes in the wing planes of the smaller craft.
That will cause her to lose headway, and she can't keep up. They'll
have to volplane to earth, but, if they know anything at all about
airships, they can do that easily, and not get a bit hurt. That will
put them out of the race, and I can keep on after the big ship. I
fancy that carries the more valuable cargo."
"I presume so. Well, don't bring the one to earth until you get over
Uncle Sam's territory, and then maybe there will be a chance to
capture them, and the goods too."
"I will," promised Tom. They were still over Canadian territory, but
were rapidly approaching the border.
"I think I will send a wireless to my men in Logansville, to start
out and try to pick up the crippled airship after you disable her,"
decided Mr. Whitford, and as Tom agreed that this was a good plan,
the wireless was soon cracking away, the government agent being an
adept in its use.
"I've told them we'd give another signal to tell them, as nearly as
possible where we made them take to earth," he said to Tom, and the
young inventor nodded in agreement.
"Ned in them ship?" asked Koku, as he came back from the pilot house
to report that Mr. Damon was all right, and needed no help.
"Yes, I think Ned is in one of them," said Tom. "The big one most
likely. Poor Ned a prisoner! Well, I'll soon have him away from
them--if nothing happens," and Tom looked about the motor room, to
make sure that every piece of apparatus was working perfectly.
The two airships of the smugglers were hanging close together, and
it was evident that the larger one had to make her pace slow, so as
not to get ahead of the small craft. Tom followed on relentlessly,
not using half his speed, but creeping on silently in the darkness.
"We're over the United States now," said Mr. Whitford, after a
glance earthward through the binoculars. "Let 'em get a little
farther over the line before you pop 'em with your electric rifle,
Our hero nodded, and looked out of a side window to note the
progress of the smugglers. For several miles the chase was thus kept
up, and then, suddenly the smaller craft was seen to swerve to one
"They are separating!" cried Mr. Whitford, at the same time Mr.
Damon called through the tube from the pilot house:
"Which one shall I follow, Tom?"
"The big one," the youth answered. "I'll take care of the other!"
With a quick motion he flashed the current into the great
searchlight, and, calling to Mr. Whitford to hold it so that the
beams played on the small aeroplane, Tom leveled his wonderful
electric rifle at the big stretch of canvas. He pressed the lever, a
streak of blue flame shot out through an opened port, and, an
instant later, the small craft of the smugglers was seen to stagger
about, dipping to one side.
"There they come!" cried Mr. Whitford. "They're done for!"
"One shot more," said Tom grimly. "It won't hurt 'em!"
Again the deadly electric rifle sent out its wireless charge, and
the airship slowly fluttered toward the earth.
"They're volplaning down!" cried Tom. "That's the end of them. Now
to catch the other!"
"Take the lantern!" cried Mr. Whitford. "I'm going to send a
wireless to my men to get after this disabled craft."
Tom swung the beam of the searchlight forward and a moment later had
picked up the big aeroplane. It was some distance in advance, and
going like the wind. He heard the automatic camera clicking away.
"They speeded her up as soon as they saw what was on!" cried Tom.
"But we haven't begun to go yet!"
He signalled to Mr. Damon, who pulled over the accelerating lever
and instantly the Falcon responded. Now indeed the race was on in
earnest. The smugglers must have understood this, for they tried all
their tactics to throw the pursuing airship off the track. They
dodged and twisted, now going up, and now going down, and even
trying to turn back, but Tom headed them off. Ever the great beam of
light shone relentlessly on them, like some avenging eye. They could
"Are we gaining?" cried Mr. Whitford.
"A little, and slowly," answered Tom. "They have a bigger load on
than when we chased them before, but still they have a speed almost
equal to ours. They must have a magnificent motor."
Faster and faster sped on the Falcon. The other craft kept ahead of
her, however, though Tom could see that, inch by inch, he was
"Where do they seem to be heading for?" asked the government agent.
"Shopton, as near as I can make out," replied the youth. "They
probably want to get there ahead of us, and hide the goods. I must
prevent that. Mr. Damon is steering better than he ever did before."
Tom shifted the light to keep track of the smugglers, who had dipped
downward on a steep slant. Then they shot upward, but the Falcon was
The hours of the night passed. The chase was kept up. Try as the
smugglers did, they could not shake Tom off. Nearer and nearer he
crept. There was the gray dawn of morning in the sky, and Tom knew,
from the great speed they had traveled that they must be near
"They're slowing up. Tom!" suddenly cried Mr. Whitford who was
watching them through an open port.
"Yes, I guess they must have heated some of their bearings. Well,
here's where I capture them, if it's ever to be. Koku, let down the
"Are you really going to capture them, Tom?" asked the custom
"I'm going to try," was the answer, as Koku came back to say that
the anchor was dragging over the stern by a long rope.
"You work the light, Mr. Whitford," cried Tom. "I'm going to relieve
Mr. Damon in the pilot house. He can help you here. It will be all
over in another minute."
In the pilot house Tom grasped the steering levers. Then in a final
burst of speed he sent his craft above, and past that of the
Suddenly he felt a shock. It was the grappling anchor catching in
the rail of the other air craft. A shout of dismay arose from the
"You've got 'em! You've got 'em, Tom!" yelled Mr. Whitford.
"Bless my hasty pudding! So he has!" gasped Mr. Damon.
Changing the course of his craft Tom sent the Falcon toward the
earth, pulling the other aeroplane with him. Down and down he went,
and the frantic efforts of the smugglers to release themselves were
useless. They were pulled along by the powerful airship of our hero.
A few minutes later Tom picked out a good landing place in the dim
light of the breaking dawn, and went to earth. Jamming on the brakes
he leaped from the pilot house to the stern of his own craft,
catching up his electric rifle. The other airship, caught by the
grappling anchor at the end of a long rope, was just settling down,
those in her having the good sense to shut off their power, and
volplane when they found that they could not escape.
As the smugglers' craft touched the earth, several figures leaped
from her, and started to run away.
"Hold on!" cried Tom. "I've got you all covered with the electric
rifle! Don't move! Koku, you, and Mr. Whitford and Mr. Damon take
care of them. Tie 'em up."
"Bless my hat band!" cried the eccentric man. "What a great capture!
Where are we?"
"Not far from Shopton," answered Tom. "But look after the
There was a cry of astonishment from Mr. Whitford as he reached the
sullen occupants of the smugglers' craft.
"Here are the Fogers--father and son!" the agent called to Tom.
"They were in it after all. Great Scott! What a surprise. And here
are a lot of men whom I've been after for some time! Oh, Tom Swift,
this is a capture."
"What right have you to use these high-handed methods on us?"
demanded Mr. Foger pompously.
"Yes, dad make 'em let us go; we haven't done anything!" snarled
"I guess you won't go yet a while," said the agent. "I'll have a
look inside this craft. Keep 'em covered, Tom."
"I will. I guess Andy knows what this rifle can do. See if Ned is a
There was a few moments of waiting during which Koku and Mr. Damon
securely bound the prisoners. Then Mr. Whitford reappeared. He was
accompanied by some one.
"Hello, Tom!" called the latter. "I'm all right. Much obliged for
"Are you all right, Ned?" asked Tom, of his chum.
"Yes, except that they kept me gagged. The men who captured me took
me for you, and, after the Fogers found out the mistake, they
decided to keep me anyhow. Say, you've made a great haul."
And so it proved, for in the airship was a quantity of valuable
silks and laces, while on the persons of the smugglers, including
Mr. Foger, were several packets of diamonds. These were taken
possession of by Mr. Whitford, who also confiscated the bales and
Ned was soon aboard the Falcon, while the prisoners, securely tied
were laid in the cabin of their own craft with Koku to stand guard
over them. Mr. Damon went to Shopton, which was the nearest town,
for police aid, and soon the smugglers were safe in jail, though Mr.
Foger protested vigorously against going.
Ned explained how he had been pounced upon by two men when he was
fishing, and told how without a chance to warn his friends, he had
been gagged and bound and taken to the headquarters of the smugglers
in Canada, just over the border. They went by carriages. Then the
Fogers, who, it seemed, were hand in glove with the law violators,
saw him, and identified him. The smugglers had thought they were
"It was your coat and hat that did it, Tom," explained Ned. "I
fought against being taken away, but when I happened to think if
they took me for you it might be a trick against them. And it was.
The Fogers didn't discover the mistake until just before we started."
"They planned for a big shipment of goods last night and used two
airships. I don't know what became of the other."
"We've got her, and the men, too," interposed Mr. Whitford, as this
conversation was taking place several hours later in the Swift home.
"I just had a wire from my deputy. They got right after the damaged
airship, and reached her just as the men were hiding the goods, and
preparing to dismantle the craft. We have them all, thanks to you,
"And to think that the Fogers were in it all the while!" remarked
Tom. "They certainly fooled us."
"I'm not done with them yet," said Mr. Whitford. "I'm going to have
another look at their house, and the gardener's home."
"The Fogers were in dire straits, that's why they went in with the
smugglers," explained Ned. "Though they gagged me, they didn't stop
up my ears, and when they hid me in a little room on the airship, I
could hear them talking together. It seems that the smugglers put up
the money to buy the airships, and just happened to stumble on Andy
to run the machinery for them. His father helped, too. They shared
in the proceeds, and they must have made considerable, for the
smuggling has been going on for some time."
"Well, they'll lose all they made," declared the agent. Later he,
Tom and Ned made another inspection of the Foger premises. Down in
the cellar of the gardener's house they found, behind a cunningly
concealed door, a tunnel leading into the old mansion. Later it was
learned that the smugglers had been in the habit of bringing goods
across the border in airships, landing them in a lonely stretch of
woods outside of Shopton, and later bringing them by wagon to the
Inside there, in some secret rooms that had been constructed off of
the main apartments, the goods would be unpacked, put in different
boxes, carried through the tunnel to the gardener's house, and
thence shipped as "old furniture" to various unscrupulous agents who
disposed of them.
The hiring of Mr. Dillon had been only a blind. Later the smugglers,
in the guise of carpenters, made the desired changes. So cunningly
had the opening of the tunnel in the cellar of the gardener's house
been concealed, that it was only discovered after a most careful
There is little more to tell. With the capture of the two airships,
an end was put to the smuggling operations, especially since nearly
all the gang was captured. A few, those who brought the goods up the
St. Lawrence, from the ocean steamers, managed to escape, but they
had to go into hiding.
The goods captured proved very valuable, and partly made up to Uncle
Sam's treasury the losses sustained. Tom was offered a big reward,
but would not take it, accepting only money for his expenses, and
requesting that the reward be divided among the agents of Mr.
Whitford's staff, who needed it more than Tom did.
There was no difficulty about convicting the prisoners, including
the Fogers, for Tom's wizard camera had taken pictures of the chase
and capture, and the men were easily identified. Mr. Period was
quite delighted with the roll of films that Tom gave him. Some of
the smugglers were sent to prison for long terms, and others,
including Andy and his father, had to pay heavy fines.
"Well, Tom Swift, I can't thank you enough," said Mr. Whitford, one
day as he called to pay the young inventor a visit. "I'm ordered to
the Pacific coast and I may have to send for you with your airship,
and great searchlight."
"I don't believe I'll come," laughed the lad. "I'm going to take a
long rest and settle down."
"He's going to get married!" exclaimed Ned, taking care to get
behind a chair.
"If Mr. Tom marry, he keep Koku for servant?" asked the giant
"Oh, I'm not going to get married, just yet, Koku!" exclaimed Tom,
who was blushing furiously. "I'm going to invent something new."
"Bless my fountain pen!" cried Mr. Damon.
"Oh, Tom, it seems good to have you home again," said aged Mr. Swift
"Dat's what it do!" added Eradicate. "Boomerang hab been monstrous
lonely sence yo'-all been gone, Massa Tom."
"Well, I'm going to stay home--for a while," said Tom. And thus,
surrounded as he is by his friends and relatives, we will take leave
of Tom Swift.