Tom Swift And His Magnetic Silencer

by Victor Appleton

A Whitman Publishing Co. Better Little Book (Big Little Books) - 1941


	Had something happened to Tom Swift? 
	His chum Ned Newton was uneasy over the young inventor's prolonged 
absence. Partly to satisfy his own feelings as well as to take care of an 
important caller at the offices of the Swift Construction Company, Ned phoned 
several places to try to locate Tom. He had no luck.
	"I'm doing my best, Mr. Gonzo," he said to the impatient gentleman who 
was waiting.
	"But it is mos' urgent that I see Monsieur Swif' at once!" Pedro Gonzo 
paced nervously about the office. "My government commands haste!"  
	Ned in his anxiety found it hard to be very much impressed at this 
moment by the man's statement. Tom Swift had been gone for hours to test his 
latest experiment with a secret bomb. He had told his chum very little about 
it, but this was not unusual. He rarely mentioned details until he had 
reached perfection.
	"I wish to place a mos' important order," muttered Pedro Gonzo 
sulkily, looking at his watch. "I mus' catch my train soon."
	"I'm sorry," said Ned, rising to bid the caller good-bye. "To tell you 
the truth, I'm worried about Tom Swift. He should have been here hours ago."
	There was good cause for worry, for at that moment the youthful 
inventor was in the midst of a hazardous adventure. With him was an older man 
who was a friend of long standing. Mr. Damon was eccentric and amusing, but 
loyal to Tom. He loved to be with the brilliant young man. Often he sought 
him out to get away from his wife who always wanted him to go to parties.   
	"Bless my potato patch," exclaimed the stout, middle-aged gentlemen as 
he turned his car into the driveway of a neat-looking farm. "Tom Swift, I 
never heard of such a thing!"
	"Well, Mr. Damon, I hope no one else has, either," dryly commented the 
younger man beside him. "It wouldn't be much of an invention it was common 
	"But to think! Planting a field with a bomb!" Mr. Damon shook his 
head. "You'll have to show me!"   
	"And I will. If you'll just drive over to the ground you had plowed 
this morning, we'll see what my controlled bomb-planter will do." 
	"It's not far," said the eccentric man. "I told Rumble, my caretaker, 
to work down by the creek." 
	He turned into a narrow dirt road that led from the big barn near the 
farmhouse. In a few minutes they saw the little stream meandering along but 
the spot was still filled with cornstubble from last year's harvest.
	"Is that the field?" asked Tom. "Nobody has plowed it."
	"That Rumble!" exclaimed Mr. Damon angrily. "See, he has had the wrong 
one plowed; the one on the hillside there. Now you'll have to postpone your 
	"That's all right, Mr. Damon," interrupted the inventor, smiling. "It 
will just be a harder test, which is all the better. If my controlled bomb 
will work on a hillside which is one of its features, I hope-it will 
certainly work on the level."
	A few minutes later Tom was kneeling over a peculiar, cone shaped 
device which he had taken from the car and placed on the ground about halfway 
up the hill. Mr. Damon looked on with great interest, muttering numerous 
"blessings," as Tom carefully turned a thumbscrew set in the gleaming 
cylinder. As he made the adjustments he constantly consulted the dial of a 
small instrument connected to the bomb by wires.
	"That seems about right," he said finally, as he disconnected the 
meter. "I had to guess at the angle of the field, though. If I had known that 
we would have to use a slanting piece of ground I'd have brought a surveyor's 
	"But, Tom," objected his old friend, "farmers aren't likely to know 
how to use such things. I don't believe your invention is practical!"
	"This is just an experimental model. When I put it on the market it 
will be made to adjust itself automatically," explained the young scientist, 
pushing his device into the soft ground. Then he flipped over a tiny lever 
and jumped up quickly
	"All set, Mr. Damon!" he cried, walking rapidly toward the automobile. 
"Come on, we must drive away from here. The bomb is set to explode in two 
	The stout man scrambled to the wheel and tramped on the starter. The 
motor whirred but failed to start. Again and again he tried but to no avail.
	"She won't go Tom!" he gasped.
	"Small wonder. Look at your gas gauge. Empty!" Tom grasped his friend 
by the arm and unceremoniously tumbled him out of the machine.
	"Let's crouch back of the car!" proposed Mr. Damon hoarsely.
	"Can't do that. The blast may tumble it over! We'll have to run!"
	The two started away as fast as possible over the newly-turned 
furrows. Then a hissing warned Tom. Something had gone wrong and the bomb was 
going off ahead of time.
	"Down, Mr. Damon!" shouted the inventor, throwing himself flat. "Get 
	An instant later a loud explosion sounded and a hail of missiles 
filled the air.
	"Oh, oh!" cried Mr. Damon.
	In the meantime Ned Newton had started out after his chum. Finally 
through Mrs. Damon he had learned that her husband had gone off "galavanting" 
with Tom Swift into the country.
	"Probably they went to Mr. Damon's new farm," Ned said to himself, as 
he closed his desk. "Anyway I'll try that place first."
	The young business manager of the great Swift Construction Company 
left his office by the side door, near which he had parked his car. As he 
drove toward the gate he noted with approval the appearance of activity and 
development everywhere visible.
	The farm Mr. Damon had purchased was somewhere off the road between 
Mansburg and Shopton, the small town where the Swift plant was located. Ned 
had never been there.
	"I hope I shan't have any trouble finding it," he said to himself as 
he passed the outskirts of the city. "Anyhow, I can always inquire if 
	This he presently did, but his informant-a young farmhand he stopped 
to question-must have given him wrong directions for presently young Newton 
found himself on a little-used road that grew progressively rougher.
	"Wow!" he exclaimed, as his car hit a particularly deep rut. "This 
can't be the right way. Nobody would ever use this road! But it must lead 
somewhere for there's car coming along behind." 
	"It's that old yellow sedan that was parked near the works," he 
muttered. "I wonder-is it following me?"
	To test this Ned increased his speed considerably in spite of the poor 
condition of the old road. As he went jolting along he kept a watch in the 
mirror and soon saw that the driver of the other car had fed more gas to his 
machine also Instead of being left behind, it now was somewhat closer than 
before. Tom Swift's chum could see that there were at least two persons in 
the auto, a man and a woman in the front seat.
	"They're following me, all right. Maybe it's a hold-up plot!"
	Ned looked around but there were no houses nearby nor did he see any 
farmers working in the fields. Ahead about a half mile grew a clump of trees 
and the road curved there. Thinking rapidly, the youth made a plan.


	Ned put on more speed and soon had the satisfaction of seeing the 
yellow car drop back. As soon as he came within the stretch of woodland and 
was hidden from view around the curve, he stopped quickly. Then he turned his 
machine around, headed back the way he had come, and waited.
	"I hope this will work," he thought with rapidly beating heart.
	His plan succeeded. The pursuing auto was just entering the woods as 
he shot out and passed it. He got a good look at the two passengers within 
it, however. At the wheel sat a swarthy, forbidding sort of man. He had no 
hat on and Ned could see his close-cropped, bristling black hair. His 
companion was a hard-faced blonde woman who stared boldly at the youth.
	Ned wondered if he imagined it, but he thought he heard the driver 
say, "That's not Tom Swift!"
	The young man sped down the road but the other car did not follow. On 
and on he went until he reached the main high-way again. This time he made no 
mistake in his direction to the Damon farm. Presently the buildings loomed up 
but Ned could see no activity at the house or near the barn.
	"Guess Tom isn't here," he thought, discouraged.
	Then suddenly he spied two men in a field. The older one, who was 
being dragged out of a car, began to wave his arms wildly. The younger fellow 
pulled him along frantically.
	"Why, that's Tom Swift," cried Ned aloud. "And Mr. Damon is with him! 
But they're acting strangely. I wonder why they're running?"
	Then he heard an explosion and saw a column of smoke and dirt fly up. 
The two hurrying figures seemed to stumble and fall.
	"Great Caesar, an accident!" he cried. "Tom's hurt! Maybe he's-" Fear 
clutched at Ned's heart.
	He stepped heavily on the accelerator and his roadster leaped ahead. 
Reaching the field he slammed on the brakes and jumped out to race across to 
the side of his friends.
	"Tom! Tom!" he called. "Are you badly hurt?"
	"Oh, Ned!" The inventor sat up and wiped some soil from his face. "No, 
I'm not hurt. But it is merely a matter of good luck I wasn't. It's all over, 
Mr. Damon. You can get up."
	The stout gentleman grunted and sat upright, a comical sight. His 
face, what little was showing through a coating of dirt, was red and he was 
breathing heavily.
	"I came very near smothering!" he complained. "Bless my oxygen tank, 
but this is scientific farming with a vengeance!"
	"What in the world have been doing, Tom?" asked Ned.
	"Well, one thing," grinned his chum, "creating business for the dry 
cleaners. Look at our suits. But seriously, I have been trying out a new 
agricultural gadget. How it performed remains to be seen."
	He started walking briskly toward the scene of the explosion, hoping 
fervently that the new invention would prove successful. It would have so 
many uses in aiding the work of farmers. Now as he passed Mr. Damon's car he 
saw with satisfaction that it did not appear to be damaged. It was covered 
with the rich, dark soil and bespeckled with little yellow objects.
	"Kernels of corn!" exclaimed Ned, picking up one of these. "Have you 
invented a way to make corn explode?"
	"No, not at all," replied Tom. "My plan is to plant any kind of seeds 
by means of what I've called a 'controlled bomb.' It's somewhat complicated 
to describe but simple enough in principle. What I'm eager to see right now 
is whether or not it distributed the grain evenly. If it didn't, the idea is 
	But, as old readers know, when Tom Swift got a new idea it generally 
proved to be a good one. He soon found that his controlled bomb was no 
exception. To his delight he saw that the kernels had been hurled evenly over 
the entire half-acre field. They had fallen with sufficient spaces between 
them to insure a uniform growth of corn stalks.
	"Tom, this is great!" exclaimed Ned Newton, thinking of fat profits 
for the company "I can almost forgive you for the fright you gave me."
	"I'm sorry about that, Ned. Of course I didn't know you were coming 
here. What did bring you?"
	"I was worried about you, but never would have known where you were if 
I hadn't phoned all over to locate you. Mrs. Damon finally told me."
	"Did my wife sound uh-peeved?" asked Mr. Damon anxiously.
	"To put it mildly, she did." grinned Ned. "But Tom, there was a 
foreigner, Pedro Gonzo he calls himself, at the office to see you. He's an 
excitable person who wanted to give you a large order. He wouldn't wait."
	"Pedro Gonzo? Never heard the name before. Who is he? And what did he 
want to see me about?"
	"He says he's a Ruthenian and his papers from their embassy seem all 
right. What he wanted I don't know but I gathered he is acting for the 
government of Ruthenia. He said his country is in a great hurry to get in 
touch with you."
	"That's very interesting. I wonder what he wanted," mused Tom. "Well, 
I'm pretty busy but I'll have a talk with him next time he comes. There's no 
more to do here, so we may as well start back."
	"I'm afraid I'll have to ride in Ned's car," said Mr. Damon. "How I 
forgot to put gasoline in my machine I'll never know!"
	At this the two young men exchanged smiles. Mr. Damon's absence of 
mind seemed to be well known to everyone but him-self.
	"You don't want to leave your car in the field all night," said Ned. 
"I'll drain some gas from my tank and put it in yours, if you can find a 
container of some kind."
	"Bless my spark plugs!" cried the eccentric man. "That's a good idea. 
I'll walk up to the farmhouse and get a can."
	"Ned, let's knock off some of this mud," proposed Tom, picking up a 
stick and beginning to scrape the windshield of Mr. Damon's auto.
	"All right," said Ned, "and while we work tell me more about your 
controlled bomb-planter."
	"It's quite simple," replied young Swift. "I take a conical container 
of very light metal and put the grain to be planted in concentric chambers 
around the charge of explosive in the center. These chambers are weaker the 
farther they are from the center. This allows the seeds in the outer ones to 
be shot to a greater distance than those within."
	"It doesn't sound simple to me," said Ned. "But it's wonderful."
	"Arranged a little differently,' .went on Tom, "a charge of insect 
killer can be substituted for seeds and one or two bombs would bombs would be 
able to spray a large orchard."
	"There's another kind of use, too!" exclaimed Ned, stopping in his 
efforts to remove the mud as a thought struck him. "Shrapnel! Put bullets 
instead of seeds in your invention. Use a heavy charge of explosive and you 
could spray a whole regiment of soldiers! In these warlike days we could make 
a lot of money!"
	"I don't doubt it," was Tom's answer. "But I'm not interested in money 
made that way, no matter how much it might be. Scientific developments have 
already been misused too often by war-crazy men! They'll never kill men with 
my ideas!"
	"You're right, Tom," said Ned soberly. "But if America is ever 
attacked, it would be a good thing to have ready."
	"Oh, that's a different matter entirely. I can tell you, in 
confidence, that I plan to give the War Department full details of the new 
bomb when I get it perfected. But for myself I will work only on its peaceful 
applications. Here comes Mr. Damon."
	"Bless my barnyard," grumbled the stout man as he walked up. "You know 
that caretaker of mine isn't anywhere to be found? He ought to stay here and 
tend to business. That's what I pay him for!"
	"Who is he?" asked Tom, as Ned prepared to fill the can Mr. Damon had 
brought. "I mean, how did you come to hire such a shiftless fellow?"
	"I didn't know he was like that. He answered an ad I put in the paper. 
He seemed eager to work and talked well about farming so I gave him the job."
	"Did you check his references?" asked Ned.
	"He had none. He said he used to have his own farm but lost it for 
	"I'd check up on his story, if I were you," advised Tom. "Now Ned and 
I must get back to the plant. I want to see if a shipment of ore I'm 
expecting has come. That amount of gasoline ought to take you to a filling 
station. We'll see you later."
	"All right, boys, and thank you. Tom, you and I will show my wife a 
thing or two. She didn't want me to buy this place said I couldn't make a 
success of it. But I'll show her. Why, we planted a whole field of corn in a 
few seconds!" Mr. Damon seemed in high good humor as he got into his muddy 
car and drove off.
	"I hope he doesn't forget to stop at a gas station," murmured Ned as 
he and Tom got into his roadster. "But he's right in thinking so well of your 
bomb-planter. We must get the patents through quickly."
	"I'll have the plans ready for the legal department in a few days," 
promised Tom. "In the meantime, Mr. Damon's farm will make a excellent place 
for further tests."
	"What about that ore shipment you spoke of?" questioned Ned. "You have 
another project in mind?"
	"Well, I have something new in mind," confessed Tom. "But until I get 
this metal from the West I can't tell you much about it."
	When the chums reached the Swift Construction Company they went 
directly to Tom's private building. Here he had his office, laboratory and 
small apartment fitted up, where he frequently spent the night when he worked 
late. Quickly he changed into another suit, for the one he had worn was 
covered with dirt. As he finished, the phone rang.
	"Hello!" he spoke into the instrument. "Yes, this is Tom Swift." He 
listened for a minute, then said, "Oh, that's too bad. A lot, you say? I'll 
see about it. Glad to help you all I can. Good-bye."
	"Anything wrong?" asked Ned.
	"It was Mr. Damon," replied the inventor. "He got home without any 
trouble but when he started to change his clothes he found his wallet was 
gone. It contained a good deal of money, so he is pretty upset. In it, too, 
was a paper I had asked him to hold. On the sheet were some notes about the 
new bomb. I hate to have that get into any stranger's hands."


	"I'm sorry to hear of the loss," said Ned. "Let's hope Mr. Damon will 
find the wallet."
	"I'm going to have a look myself," replied Tom with determination.
	"When will you do that?" demanded Ned. ''You know how busy you are."
	"Oh, I'll find time. Maybe I'll run out to the farm tonight. No doubt 
he dropped the case there. But come on, I'm eager to see if my ore has 
arrived. On the way I can check up on things in general."
	As they left the building, the young inventor gave a peculiar whistle. 
At once his giant servant Koku came running up. Eight feet tall and big in 
proportion, the man was devoted to the Swifts. It was his particular work to 
guard the laboratory from all intruders. On more than one occasion his 
loyalty and enormous strength had served Tom well.
	"Master call?" the fellow said in a deep voice, looking around.
	"Yes, Koku. I may have something heavy for you to carry."
	"Me can do!" declared the giant, flexing his mighty arms. "Nothin' too 
	As the three started down the concrete walk the youthful scientist 
realized there were several things for him to attend to. In addition to the 
experiments going on in many departments of the company, a great deal of 
manufacturing was being done. All of the things of course were inventions of 
Tom or his father, Barton Swift. The latter now was an old man and no longer 
active in the affairs of the plant. Still he continued the researches that 
had put him in the front rank of American inventors.
	After Tom had straightened out a few problems in the big electrical 
shop and had satisfied himself that work on the massive electric furnace was 
going along all right, he felt that he now was ready for his conference with 
the chief chemist.
	"But I believe I'll put that off until tomorrow," he declared to Ned. 
"If the ore is here I want to get it in the smelter and start refining it 
this afternoon."
	As the chums approached the big warehouse near the main gate they saw 
an express truck just backing up to the loading platform. "Perhaps that's 
your stuff." suggested Ned.
	"Maybe so," said Tom, walking along more rapidly. "Hurry up, Koku."
	Inside the body of the truck the expressman and his helper were 
struggling with a small crate which seemed to be enormously heavy for its 
small size.
	"Where is that box from?" called Tom.
	"It's marked Denver, Mr. Swift," said the man, wiping perspiration 
from his face. "It feels as if there were a couple of anvils inside!"
	"Take it, Koku," directed Tom. "This is what I've been expecting."
	With some difficulty the two in the truck had moved the crate to the 
back of the vehicle. Now Koku reached over the tailboard with his long arms 
and picked up the box without apparent strain. As the men stared in amazement 
the giant shouldered the heavy load and turned to Tom.
	"Where you want um, Master?" he asked.
	"In my laboratory, Koku."
	"I wish I had him to help me," muttered the expressman, watching the 
ease with which the huge man bore the package away.
	As soon as Tom got back to the laboratory he told the giant to open 
the crate. Inside were several strong canvas sacks which held the ore, a mass 
of lumpy gray rocks speckled with streaks of glittering color. This was 
dumped into the hopper of a powerful crushing machine.
	"Thanks, Koku. I won't need you any longer," said Tom, starting the 
mechanism which at once began chewing the ore into a fine powder.
	"Me be right outside if you need um," boomed the giant, as he left.
	While the rocks were being pulverized the inventor turned on the heat 
in the small smelting furnace. This apparatus was entirely electrical, being 
fired by the current in a novel manner recently invented by Tom Swift. It was 
this development that had made possible the wonderful electric furnace which 
he was building on special order from the biggest steel mill in the whole 
	"What's this all about, anyway?" demanded Ned, glancing at his watch. 
"This isn't going to take very long, is it?"
	"You'll know soon enough," replied his chum, busy weighing out various 
chemicals. One by one he put them in an iron crucible inside the smelter 
which was warming up fast. "Have you an engagement? You seem very anxious 
about something."
	"Me? No, I'm not worried but you're acting so mysterious-"
	"Well, Ned, to tell you the truth I can't give you the dope on my new 
idea yet. I don't mean to be mysterious, as you call it, but until I make 
these experiments I won't know myself whether or not there is anything to 
	As he finished speaking a whirring noise came from the crusher. Tom 
hurried over and turned off the motor. The powdered ore had fallen through 
the trap in the bottom and now was collected in a steel bin. Some of this the 
young inventor weighed out. Then, after putting on a pair on heavy gloves for 
safety he added this to the chemicals in the crucible. Next he stirred the 
contents together thoroughly with an iron rod, shoved the container well back 
into the furnace and closed the door.
	"That's that," he announced, turning up the heat-control lever. 
"She'll cook along all night and sometime tomorrow ought to be ready."
	"You sound as if you were baking a cake," grumbled his business 
manager. "I hope it turns out well. You know how much that electric thing 
costs to run!"
	"You old fuss-budget!" laughed Tom. "Electric heat is far the best. 
It's clean and easy to control. With my new method you can really get up some 
	"Maybe so. But what bothers me is how much it costs."
	"Never mind the details!" Tom playfully pounded his chum on the back. 
"That's what I keep you around for, to do my worrying!"
	The two left the laboratory, walking down the corridor to the 
inventor's office. As Tom looked toward his desk he noticed a package on it.
	"Hello!" he exclaimed. "Wonder what that is? It wasn't here when we 
left a little while ago."
	"And it shouldn't be here," declared Ned. "There's a strict rule 
against any deliveries in this building!"
	"I'll ask Koku," decided Tom. "Maybe he brought it." Going to the 
door, he called his servant.
	"No, Master," said the giant, as he hurried forward. "Me no put um 
thing there. Never see um before!"
	"Were any strangers around here today?" asked the inventor. "Or did 
you see anyone come in here with a package like this?"
	"Nobody come 'cept your fadder. And he no have um box. Doors locked 
all day. But I been 'way with you just now."
	Suddenly Tom laughed. He had just noticed a dimly penciled message on 
the brown wrapping.
	"Nothing to worry about," he said. "I had forgotten completely. This 
is a special occasion. It says on here, 'Happy Birthday to Tom Swift!"'
	"Who signed the greeting?" asked Ned.
	"There isn't any signature."
	At that instant both boys noticed a peculiar sound which certainly was 
coming from the inside of the package.
	"Do you hear that?" exclaimed Ned. "That's ticking. It's a bomb! Quick 
let's get out of here before we're killed!"


	"Hurry, Tom," Ned urged in alarm as his chum stared in horror at the 
package. "It's a time bomb-may explode any second!"
	Tom Swift knew that this might well be the case. Through his mind 
flashed thoughts of the many evil plotters who had sought to do him harm in 
the past. He knew he should run, yet an exploding bomb would mean the 
destruction of his laboratory and the valuable papers in the building-a very 
serious loss. He made his decision.
	"Ned, you and Koku get out of here!" he ordered sharply, at the same 
moment picking up the box quickly but as gently as possible.
	Without pausing to explain, he rushed out of the office, down the 
corridor and into his laboratory. There he threw the ticking bundle into a 
tub of oil standing beside the electric furnace.
	He could do no more and now turned to hurry back through the corridor. 
There were Ned and Koku, who had come running after him.
	"Whoo!" he bellowed. "What wrong Master?"
	"Hurry, Tom!" pleaded Ned Newton frantically. "For goodness' sake, 
let's get out of here!"
	There came a loud pounding on the outer door of the building and a 
voice was heard calling:
	"Massa Tom! What's de matter in dere? Lemme in!"
	Tom strode to the door, Ned and the giant hurrying after him. He flung 
it open. On the steps stood an old, white-haired colored man.
	"Rad!" exclaimed the inventor. "What are you doing here? But run, we 
must get away from this place!"
	"Yes, and make it snappy!" urged Ned. "We found a bomb on Tom's desk!"
	"Dat's funny," mumbled Eradicate Sampson, who was a servant in the 
Swift home. "Dey sho wuzn't nuthin' on de desk when I went in dere a little 
while back."
	"Wait a minute!" Tom Swift stopped and stared at the honest, black 
face of his aged retainer. "Do you mean to say YOU were in my office this 
	"Sholy!" beamed Rad, "I fetched yo' a birfday gif' I wanted t' git 
ahead ob dat triflin' giant Koku an' I done done it! How yo' like de 'larm-
clock, Massa Tom? I knowed yo' needed a new one."
	"Whew!" burst the young business manager, clutching at a post. "Hold 
me up, someone! Of all the-" He stood there, shaking his head in breathless 
	"Hey, whut's gwine on heah?" demanded Eradicate. "Ain't yo' gwine run 
fum de bumb no mo'?"
	"YOU put the 'bomb' on my desk, Rad!" accused the inventor, smiling 
broadly, for he no longer feared a destructive blast. "Thank you very much 
for remembering my birthday, but your gift certainly lived up to its name-it 
ALARMED us enough! You see, when we heard the ticking noise, we thought it 
was an infernal machine."
	"I'se suttinly sorry dat it skeered yo' all. I speck I shouldn't have 
woun' de clock up. But I'se glad it wuzn't a sho-nuff bumb. When I heerd de 
hollerin' in de buildin' and de way dat Koku was a-carryin' on, I wuz feerd 
dat sumfin wuz mighty much wrong."
	"How did you manage to get into the office?" demanded Ned.
	"Ole Massa Swift lemme have de key when I 'splained whut I aimed t' 
do," chuckled the darky. "I sho put one over on yo', Koku!"
	The big man merely grunted, for he could not think of any suitable 
reply. He and the old Negro were striving constantly to outdo each other in 
Tom's service. Beneath this spirit of rivalry the two were fast friends, as 
they had been ever since the inventor had brought the giant back from South 
American wilds.
	When Tom Swift reached his office early the next morning he found a 
telegram awaiting him. It was from Pedro Gonzo and stated that the Ruthenian 
was returning to Shopton and asked an interview. As the young scientist 
planned to be there all morning he wired for the man to come ahead.
	"Seems money is no object to this fellow," commented Ned, reading over 
the message. "Says he's chartering a special plane for the trip from 
Washington. I wonder what he can want?"
	"Whatever it is, he's in a hurry," was Tom's opinion. "Now, old boy, 
if you'll get those new contracts in order, I'll look them over. While you 
fix 'em up, I'll step into the lab and see how my smelting operation is 
coming along."
	It took him twenty minutes to inspect the contents of his ore crucible 
through the quartz observation window in the wall of the electric furnace. 
Then he returned to his office to plunge into the mass of documents on his 
desk, This took so much time that he was still at it when Koku came to 
announce the arrival of a visitor.
	"Must be Gonzo," observed the inventor. "All right, Koku. Please ask 
him to come in."
	"Ah, Monsieur Swif'!" cried the excited Ruthenian a moment later. He 
rushed in to shake Tom's hand warmly. To Ned he bowed stiffly. ''Zis is ze 
great honaire for me- to meet ze so great inventaire! I have great 
proposition for you" - he glanced at Ned- ''but we mus' talk in private, no?"
	"No," replied Tom calmly. He had dealt with excited men before. "If 
you have any proposal to make, you can make it before my business manager."
	"Very well," Gonzo shrugged. "Now, to ze point! You know ze conditions 
today, yes? War, war, war! But, so far, Ruthenia is at peace. But who can see 
ze future? My government- he has heard of your great genius- commissions you 
to invent for us ze noiseless airplane! One zat can swoop over ze enemy wiz 
no sound to betray it. You must start immediate'! Ruthenia will pay you well. 
Now, what say you to zat, Monsieur Swif'?"
	"Well, Mr. Gonzo, while I do wish to disappoint you and your 
government, I cannot undertake your commission. I am sorry."
	"Ah! You Americaines!"  The Ruthenian wag-ged his finger in what he 
considered a playful manner. "Always you drive ze good bargain! Come, we will 
not haggle- I am authorized to offer you one million dollaires!" He drew from 
his coat a folded document and laid it on the desk with a flourish. "Sign 
that and the instant you succeed we pay you ze million plus a sum to cover 
all experimental costs!"
	"Sorry," repeated Tom Swift, shaking his head firmly, "I cannot do 
what you ask."
	"But, Tom!" protested Ned. "A million-"
	"It's out of the question." The inventor stood up and held out his 
hand to Gonzo. "Your offer is a very generous one, sir, and I regret that we-"
	"Bah!" The Ruthenian's face darkened with anger and he ignored the 
proffered handshake. "You, Swif', you weel regret zis! Hah, zere are other 
inventaires! Zere is one who even now has almos' solve' ze problem! I go to 
	Without further words the Ruthenian representative hurried from the 
	"Well, there goes prosperity,' observed Ned, regarding his chum 
somewhat darkly. He hated to see a chance at an immense profit get away from 
the company. "What in the world made you act in such haste, anyway? Why, you 
didn't even listen to the details of Gonzo's proposition!"
	''It would have been a waste of time. I may as well tell you that a 
high-ranking U. S. Army officer approached me about this very problem not so 
long ago. You know it goes without saying that anything I can work out in a 
matter of this sort goes to our own government, not to some foreign country."
	"Oh, ho!" exclaimed Ned. "Now I understand. But at the time it seemed 
to me you were just coolly tossing away a million dollars!"
	"You seem pretty sure I could earn all those dollars!" Tom stared at 
the office wall. "I don't quite like what Gonzo hinted about another inventor 
being so close to success."
	"Why? Do you think anyone else has a chance?"
	"Put it down to professional jealousy!" Tom laughed shortly. 
"Actually, I want to be sure that Uncle Sam gets the invention. This other 
inventor may sell his plans to Ruthenia."
	"I don't see how anyone can build a soundless airplane," remarked Ned 
dubiously. "Even yourself, Tom Swift! Even now, a pilot can't be heard if he 
cuts his engine and glides toward his target-"
	"That wouldn't work all the time," interrupted Tom, "because airplane 
engines must be 'gunned' frequently; they'll choke and stall otherwise. Such 
sudden blasts of power would be detected quickly by the enemy's audio 
locators. There are many experimenters working on this problem but I believe 
the are attacking it from the wrong angle. Even if an absolutely silent motor 
can be made-which is doubtful there remains the propeller noise. In a high 
speed plane this is much louder than the engine roar."
	"What do you propose to do? asked Ned. "I fail to see how even you can 
make a whirring propeller blade noiseless."
	"It all depends on the-" Tom stopped suddenly, holding up his hand. A 
loud hissing sound was coming from the laboratory down the hall.
	"It's the furnace. My new metal!" he exclaimed, jumping up and rushing 
from the office.


	Tom Swift hurried across his laboratory to the electric furnace and 
peered through the quartz-glass observation window. The metal within was 
glowing redly. Over its molten surface greenish wisps of flame were dancing.
	"How is it coming?" asked Ned, pausing in the doorway to watch his 
chum pull over a lever and open a valve a trifle more.
	"Just as I had hoped!" called Tom, raising his voice above the 
clanking of a pump. "I'm putting a higher vacuum on the heating chamber."
	After some further adjustments, he seemed quite satisfied with the 
progress being made.
	"Where did you get the ore?" questioned Ned.
	"You haven't forgotten our trip out West last year, have you?" the 
young inventor asked, after the two had returned to Tom's office.
	"No, indeed!" smiled his friend. "I had a great time! But it was a 
funny sort of vacation for you, spending all your time hunting up old rocks 
to analyze."
	"You know the old saying: a change of work is often the best kind of 
rest. Anyway, I discovered something out there which may prove to be of great 
importance; a new metallic ore that seems to have an attraction for sound 
waves. It soaks 'em up, to put it crudely."
	"Say, that IS interesting!" exclaimed Ned, leaning forward in his 
chair. "I believe I now understand what you're trying to do. Just put some of 
the new stuff an airplane and it'll attract and absorb the whir of the 
propeller as well as the roar of the engine! That's a great idea!"
	"Well, yes, that's the basic principle," admitted Tom. "But it's not 
so easy to put into practice. First the metallic salts contained in the ore 
must be broken down, then refined by fusing them with suitable chemical 
reagents. This is a pretty tough problem. All my attempts so far have failed. 
But with this fresh batch of ore and my new vacuum process I believe I'll get 
good results this time."
	"Then you'll be ready to make your sound-absorber for airplanes," said 
	"Speaking of that," went on Tom, opening, a drawer in his desk and 
taking out a bundle of papers, "reminds me of some-thing you didn't know 
about, as you were away at the time it happened.  Pedro Gonzo isn't the only 
Ruthenian interested in a soundless airplane. There is a strong faction in 
that country opposed to the government. When I say opposed, I mean they are 
working actively to overthrow those in power. They'll do it with violence, if 
	"Revolutionists, eh?" grunted Ned.
	"Exactly. And you know what that term means today. I don't want 
anything to do with it. These people sent a man here to sound me out. From 
what he said I gather there must be a bunch of traitors even in the ranks of 
the loyalists. Long before Gonzo showed up here the Purple Shirts, as the 
plotters call themselves, knew what the government planned doing and tried to 
get ahead of them. Oh, the fellow was smooth enough but I suspected things 
weren't exactly as he represented them to be, so I got in touch with our own 
G-men to see what I could find out."
	"And were your suspicions correct?"
	"They were!" Tom tossed the papers he held across to his chum. "That's 
a confidential report, complete with maps, showing how bad the internal 
situation in Ruthenia is. You'll find the Ruthenians seem to like their 
politics rough; even mix their private family feuds and hates into 'em."
	"I'll be glad to read this stuff later," said Ned, glancing over the 
official-looking documents.
	Into his mind came the thought that the suspicious-looking people in 
the car which had followed him might be some of the revolutionists! Yet if he 
had heard correctly, the one who had mentioned Tom's name had spoken in 
	"I meant to tell you something,"  he said aloud to his chum and told 
of the incident.
	 "That is funny," Tom replied. "The face of the man at the wheel as 
you describe him reminds me of the fellow who called here representing the 
Purple Shirts."
	"Well, watch your step," advised Ned as he turned toward one pile of 
letters, while Tom picked up another.
	Young Swift was just smiling over an amusing birthday message from a 
college friend, when Ned pounded his fist on the desk.
	"That electric smelting furnace is going to put us into bankruptcy!" 
he complained.
	"What are you talking about?" Tom sounded a trifle cross. "You know we 
generate our own power."
	''Just the same," said Ned, wagging his head, "we must buy coal to run 
the engines and it's being used up mighty fast these days!"
	"I guess we can afford a little coal "' argued Tom. "I must have juice 
and that's flat! After all- Great Caesar, all the lights have gone out!" 
	Since the room was an air-conditioned, windowless one (for the greater 
safety of Tom's private papers), the failure of the current plunged the two 
into midnight blackness, although it was still daylight.
	"There must be trouble in the power plant," muttered the inventor - 
fumbling for the telephone. "I'll call up the place and find out about the 
	Just as his fingers found the instrument it began ringing. Picking up 
the receiver he listened for several seconds.
	"That was the chief engineer," he told Ned, after hanging up. "He 
claims the trouble originated HERE!"
	"He must be crazy! We haven't done anything!"
	"No, not in the office. But the electric furnace is-or rather, was-
running. I wonder-? Guess I'll hustle over to the plant and see what's up."
	"I'll come along," decided Ned. "I can't do anything here in the 
	The boys groped their way from the darkened building after Tom had 
crept to the switchboard in his laboratory and opened the main switch. As 
they started walking rapidly toward the generating plant the two noticed that 
no hum of machinery came from any of the shops. There seemed to be a complete 
	"What's wrong here, Mr. Jackson?" cried Tom, striding into the 
generator room.
	"Look at that, Mr. Tom!" The engineer, who had been in the Swifts' 
employ for years, waved toward a panel on which was a tangled mass of fused 
copper wires and coils. "Something you did in your lab caused such a surge of 
current that it melted the circuit breaker."
	"Hold on a minute!" burst out Tom. "What did you mean by saying I 
caused the trouble? Nothing has been turned on in my lab but the smelter!"
	"Well, Mr. Tom, maybe that's the reason," declared the engineer. 
"Something may have gone wrong in the furnace. At all events, our meters show 
the power surge went to your private laboratory."
	"Hum, I'll investigate and do it right now! Mr. Jackson, tell the men 
to go on home. It's about quitting time, anyway. Then you two go. I want to-"
	"Oh, no, Tom Swift!" broke in Ned, winking at Mr. Jackson. "No more 
work for you THIS day! You come along with us."
	Before the startled youth knew what was happening, his business 
manager had him by one arm and the engineer by the other. Between the two 
grinning men he was marched out of the building and across the way toward the 
electrical shop.
	"Hey! What are you fellows up to?" demanded Tom, struggling vainly. 
"Koku!" he yelled, catching sight of his giant. "These two have gone crazy. 
Help me!"
	"No helpum!" Koku laughed loudly. "You come 'long us!" He fell in 
	An instant later Tom knew what was afoot. As he was taken into the big 
shop he saw that an immense horseshoe table had been set up on the cleared 
floor. Around this stood all his employees.
	"Happy Birthday, Tom Swift!" The mighty shout echoed through the 
building mingled with cheers and shrill whistles.
	"Dad!" he cried, seeing his father at the curve of the table, which 
was laid for a banquet. "What is this? A surprise party?"
	"Yes, my boy!" beamed Barton Swift. "We all want to help you 
celebrate. We wish you many happy returns of the day!"
	"Hooray!" yelled somebody at the other end of the table.
	There was an excellent dinner, and to Tom's embarrassment, after-
dinner talks were given, praising the head of the company.
	"This is more than I deserve," Tom whispered to his father, who was 
smiling proudly.
	After the clapping had died down, Mr. Jackson rapped for order. The 
room grew quiet and the diners leaned forward watching two men bring forward 
a large package. Carefully they laid it on the table directly in front of the 
guest of honor.
	"Here, Tom Swift," said the smiling engineer, "is a small token of our 
good wishes!"
	 In no little confusion the young inventor stood up and cut the cords, 
using a knife handed him by his father. Eagerly he opened the parcel. Pulling 
away the paper, he brought to view a large, antique clock set in a beautiful, 
hand-carved mahogany case.
	"I-I don't quite know how to thank you men," said Tom, looking down at 
the magnificent gift. "But I DO thank you! This clock will always have the 
place of honor in my home, you may be sure!"
	Then the birthday dinner was at an end, the men crowding around to 
shake Tom's hand. After he had spoken to everyone, mentioning his 
appreciation, he and his father went home, pleased and happy.
	"You'll never have any labor troubles, Tom." said Barton Swift a 
little later, watching his son place the fine old clock on the library 
mantel. "Your employees love and respect you."
	Presently the older man bade his son good-night and went off to bed. 
Tom sat by the fire, thinking about the party and the other events of the 
day. Suddenly he snapped his fingers and jumped up.
	"By George!" he cried. "I forgot all about Mr. Damon's wallet after 
telling him I'd look for it! I'll go to the farm right now, even though it IS 
	Tom knew the road well, so in less than an hour he drew up near the 
dark, silent farmhouse.
	"Guess the caretaker is sound asleep," he muttered, getting out of his 
car and trying his flashlight.
	He started walking briskly, it was a chilly, cloudy night with a 
threat of rain in the air. Nearing the field which had been planted by his 
controlled bomb, he was surprised to see a light flashing ahead. It flickered 
on and off in an odd, furtive way, as though whoever held it was anxious not 
to be noticed.
	"That's funny!" thought Tom, his heart beating a little faster. "I 


	 "Maybe that's Mr. Damon," he said to himself doubtfully. "But I don't 
believe it could be. His wife would never stand for his being out alone at 
this hour!"
	Peering ahead, he noticed that the other searcher was now coming 
toward him. Tom must have been heard. Suddenly he felt his foot strike 
against something soft. To his surprise he found the object to be a fat 
wallet, evidently the one lost by Mr. Damon. As he straightened up, the 
leather case in his hand, a blinding light shone in his eyes. A powerful 
torch had been turned full upon him.
	"Who are you?" demanded Tom vainly endeavoring to make out the other 
person's features with his own pocket flash. "Turn that light a little. I 
can't see a thing."
	"That's the idea," came a rough, deep voice. "You ain't supposed to 
get a look at me!"
	As he spoke the fellow kept coming nearer the puzzled inventor. 
Suddenly the figure sprang forward. Before Tom could so much as raise his 
arms to protect himself, the youth was dealt a terrific blow on the head with 
some heavy implement.
	The young scientist crumbled to the ground, knocked completely 
unconscious by the murderous stroke. The stranger stood over his victim's 
body with blackjack raised, ready to strike again if need be. But his first 
attack had succeeded; young Swift was helpless.
	Satisfied on this point, the man bent down to search Tom. In doing so 
he spotted the wallet, still clutched loosely in the inventor's hand. This 
the man rifled quickly and threw it down, a look of satisfaction on his face. 
As he hurried off, he glanced around uneasily, but nothing stirred, so he was 
sure no one had witnessed his crime.
	Exactly how long Tom lay unconscious in the field the youth never 
knew. It must have been some little time, though, for when his senses 
painfully returned, a cold, fine rain was falling and his clothes were soaked 
	"Oh!" he groaned, unable for the moment to comprehend what had taken 
place. Why was he lying on the wet ground in the dark? He put a hand to his 
head, which was aching frightfully. Finally he recalled everything.
	"That man!" he gasped. "Oh, my head, I must have got an awful knock!"
	Tom tried to sit up but nausea overpowered him and he had to lie back, 
sick and dizzy. The chill rain beating on his face helped to revive him After 
a time he managed to stagger to his feet.
	"Got to get home," he mumbled thickly, as he stood swaying in the 
cornfield. "Dark. Got to find a light!"
	He could see nothing, so he dropped to his knees and commenced feeling 
around in the mud. Soon, to his relief, he discovered his flashlight, which 
proved to be undamaged. Near him lay the wallet, which he quickly picked up.
	"Empty!" he muttered.
	Unsteadily Tom made his way to his car. Climbing in, he slumped back 
of the steering wheel, sick and weak. The farmhouse was still dark. He 
considered going in and telephoning for help.
	"No, I won't do that," he decided. "Dad might hear about it and 
	The youth could not forget how near death his parent once had been 
brought by a heart attack and always tried to spare the older man any 
anxiety. Feeling a bit stronger, Tom started the engine, determined to drive 
himself home. He reached the main road that ran past Mr. Damon's farm without 
much trouble.
	"Now, if I'm careful, I guess I can make it all right," he said aloud.
	But he was sicker and weaker than he realized. His machine seemed to 
show a fiendish desire to go in the ditch. As he straightened the car out for 
the dozenth time, he heard the roar of a motorcycle and the skirl of a police 
	"Pull up!" bawled a State Trooper, riding alongside.
	Tom was glad enough to stop and did so.
	"This drunken driving has got to stop!" sternly spoke the patrolman, 
coming up and peering into the car. "You're under arrest!"
	"I haven't been drinking, Officer," said Tom faintly. "I've been 
attacked-hit over the head and robbed by someone!"
	"Holy Smoke!" exclaimed the policeman. "You're Tom Swift! Who did it?"
	Of course the young inventor couldn't answer the question. The officer 
immediately put his motorcycle in a safe place and drove Tom home.
	Thanks to Tom's rugged constitution, a few hours sleep nearly restored 
the youth to normal. He was able to go to his office as usual the next 
morning. He said nothing to his father about what had happened but told Ned, 
who was as puzzled as himself as to the reason for the prowler's presence in 
the field.
	"Maybe he thought the pocketbook was there?" suggested Ned. "Mr. Damon 
may have been talking about his loss.
	"No, I phoned him this morning. He has mentioned it to nobody, because 
he feared his wife would hear about it.
	"She's bound to know now, the money being gone."	
	"I made up the amount. I felt to blame because I didn't go sooner and 
even tonight the fellow might not have found the purse, if I hadn't 
accidentally stumbled on it. What worries me is the loss of that paper of 
mine with the notes on it."
	"Say, maybe the fellow was after the secret of your controlled bomb!" 
exclaimed Ned Newton.
	"That's just what I'm afraid of," said Tom. "And furthermore he may be 
mixed up with the Purple Shirts."
	"I see what you mean," Ned spoke up. "The driver in that yellow car 
which was following me may have found out you were experimenting at the 
	"Exactly," replied Tom. "Well, the police will have to take care of 
hunting for him. I have work to do here. I see the power is on again in this 
building, so I'm going to the laboratory."
	Since Tom had turned off the switch to the smelter the night before, 
he found the apparatus cold. When he opened the door, he saw to his surprise 
that the metal was coated thickly on the inside with a strange, bluish 
	Ned was coming down the hall, his footsteps echoing loudly. As Tom 
moved the door, the sounds stopped. When he saw his chum standing alongside 
of him, he looked surprised. His business manager was talking, but the words 
sounded as if they were coming faintly from a great distance.
	"Am I getting deaf?" wondered the inventor, thinking of the blow on 
his head. He closed the smelter and instantly heard normally once more. "I 
have it!" he cried, moving the door open and shut rapidly, while he noted the 
effect on the hum of a compressor running in the far corner.
	"What's going on here?" demanded Ned, rubbing his ears vigorously. "My 
hearing is going back on me!"
	"Not a bit of it, old scout!" Tom slapped his chum on the back 
delightedly. "Don't you see? This blue stuff-it absorbs most of the noise in 
here! Look!"
	He opened the smelter and instantly the laboratory grew deathly still. 
He closed it and sounds could be heard plainly. Then, as he tried the 
experiment once more, no effect was produced.
	"It's no good," declared Ned in disappointment. "It will hold its 
power only a few moments."
	"No, I see the trouble," said Tom, looking into the furnace. "The blue 
stuff has fallen off the door down into the smelter."
	Recklessly he plunged his arms inside and scooped up the powder, 
feeling a strange tingling sensation as he touched the stuff. After placing 
the precious substance in a glass jar, he attempted to brush the particles 
off his fingers, but found he could not do this entirely. At this moment the 
phone rang and he talked for several minutes over a long distance wire. Just 
as he finished speaking, Koku entered the laboratory. He gave one look at Tom 
and shrieked wildly:
	"Master! Master! Um hands-they are dead!"


	Tom extended his two hands and regarded them with a curiosity not 
unmixed with dread. He recalled vividly what had happened to so many of those 
brave scientific pioneers who had first experimented with radium, before its 
destroying rays were understood. Some of the persons had died horrible deaths 
and not a few had lost arms or legs. He wondered if he stood faced with some 
similar fate.
	"Koku! Run! Get the company doctor!" directed Ned who, although he 
tried not to, was thinking along much the same lines as his chum. "Tell him 
to hurry!"
	"Me get um!" The giant rushed out frantically.
	"You might have used the phone, Ned!" said Tom, smiling wanly. "But, 
at that, old Koku is nearly as fast as the phone!"
	"I guess I forgot," confessed Ned. "But, Tom, can't you wash that 
stuff off some way?"
	"The powder seems to be off. My hands have changed color. And, by 
George, they're getting stiff! Just phone the chemistry department and ask 
the chief to come over, will you?" Although his expression did not alter, Tom 
was becoming alarmed as he tried to flex his fingers and found they could be 
moved only with increasing difficulty.
	"Sure, sure," murmured his business manager nervously. He made the 
call and commenced pacing the floor. Anxiously he gazed at his friend.
	When Doctor Granville arrived, he made an examination, then called for 
hot water. Quickly he prepared a strong, warm solution of a drug which he 
took from his bag and told Tom to soak his hands.
	"Doesn't seem to do much good, Doctor," said the youth after some 
minutes. "The stiffness is spreading."
	Tom paused to reflect, realizing that he alone knew more about the 
mysterious element that was attacking him than anyone else. While he was 
trying to think of a suitable antidote, the chief chemist came hurrying in.
	"Ah, Mr. Swift!" he cried. "Is something serious the matter? I 
couldn't make out from what Mr. Newton said."
	Briefly the young scientist told the man what had happened and held 
out his graying hands. Mr. Mawson looked very grave as he examined them.
	The chemist asked Tom several questions and the two plunged into a 
highly technical discussion which Ned could not follow at all and the doctor 
only in places.
	"Hum, let me see," pondered Mr. Mawson, after the inventor had 
proposed his idea for a possible treatment. "Yes, it might serve, I will 
prepare the salve myself! You have all the ingredients here, I suppose?"
	"You will find them all, with two exceptions, in the main chemical 
cabinet. The uranyl iodate and the hexafluoride of sulphur are both on the 
second shelf, over by the door."
	"How are you feeling now, Tom?" Ned asked, his face worried.
	"Not very good, old man," replied his friend, watching his chemist 
assemble the materials and light a Bunsen burner on the table. "The numbness 
is spreading to my arms. I only hope my idea works!"
	"I, too, hope that," murmured Dr. Granville, "for my knowledge cannot 
help you. This is a medical mystery! Your temperature is far below normal." 
Under his breath he added, "If it goes much lower, I won't answer for the 
	After what seemed an endless wait to the fretting business manager, 
Mr. Mawson finished his work and came over with a jar of the newly-made 
salve, a thick, greasy-looking black cream.
	"We must spread it on and wipe it off very quickly. Eh, Mr. Swift?" 
replied the chemist.
	"Yes it's very powerful," Tom assented weakly, hardly speaking above a 
whisper. "If left on too long it would cause serious burns."
	To their dismay the salve was an utter failure. As the last traces of 
the useless stuff were removed, the inventor collapsed in his chair 
	"Mr. Barton Swift should be called at once," said Dr. Granville in 
solemn tones, after the young scientist had been placed on couch in the 
	Ned had trouble controlling his voice as he gave Tom's father the sad 
news but he rightly felt that he was the one to make the call, for he was the 
young man's closest friend. Barton Swift wasted no words over the telephone 
but ordered his chauffeur to get him to the office in record time. A dynamic 
personality, he took immediate charge the instant he arrived.
	"Maybe there is still time to save him!" he cried, after rapidly 
examining his son.
	To the immense astonishment of the others he strode to the portable 
radio and turned on the loudest band music he could find. Then, turning the 
dials to maximum volume, he ordered the amazed doctor to hold Tom's hands 
directly over the blaring machine.
	As the man turned to obey, Ned saw the chief chemist turn an inquiring 
glance toward Doctor Granville, who nodded significantly. The business 
manager felt that both men thought grief had crazed the old scientist. As to 
his own ideas, he was not so sure. He had never known Tom's father to do a 
foolish thing nor to act in an unreasonable manner.
	Everyone watched the patient anxiously, Barton Swift apparently calm, 
the others with mixed emotions of doubt, wonder and not much hope. It was the 
keen, jungle-trained eyes of Koku which first detected the change.
	"Master's hands!" he yelled, almost shaking the room with the power of 
his great lungs. "Um live again!"
	He was right. The gray tinge was fading away slowly, giving place to a 
normal, healthy color. Soon Tom's pale face flushed and he opened his eyes.
	"Why, Dad," he said in a faint voice. "What-what are you doing here? 
And that radio, why is it playing so loudly?"
	"You got yourself in a bad way, son," his father replied, shutting off 
the music and placing the on the desk. "Fortunately, I have been studying 
your work. I knew at once what was wrong and took the only way left to combat 
the deadly power of the new substance."
	"Which was far more than I, or, for that matter, any medical man could 
have known. In fact, I had given up hope!" declared Doctor Granville. "Tom 
Swift, you owe your life to your father!"
	Tom smiled at the senior inventor. "Thanks, Dad!" he murmured.
	"Now, young sir," went on the physician, "I prescribe bed! You must do 
no work for a time. And, you will leave whatever caused your illness strictly 
alone in the future!"
	"I guess I will have to knock off for a while," agreed the youth, 
"since I feel too weak to do much. But I cannot stop work on the blue powder. 
It's too important!"
	Koku assisted his master to the car and the two Swifts drove away to 
their home. The doctor gloomily shook his head over Tom's refusal to abandon 
his dangerous experiments.
	"Well, son," said Barton Swift, as they rode along. "If you won't heed 
the doctor, at least I want you to promise me that you'll be more careful in 
the future. I couldn't get along without you, you know!"
	"I WAS careless," admitted Tom, "but from now on, I'll watch my step. 
But, Dad, I don't understand how you brought me around!"
	"I'll tell you. I knew that your nee substance-"
	"Which is going to be called 'BARTANtalum' in your honor!"
	"Bartantalum, then!" Mr. Swift appeared very much pleased, "This has a 
powerful attraction for sound. So, I said to myself, if a large quantity of 
Bartantalum will attract sounds, why should a very loud sound attract a small 
amount of the substance? I tried this, using the radio, and it worked. If you 
examine the loudspeaker, I am confident that you will find it coated with a 
fine blue powder, drawn from your hands!" he concluded as the two reached 
	Later in the day, after a nap in his own bed, Tom found himself 
feeling practically well. He was on the point of going downstairs to  get a 
book from the library when Mrs. Baggert came into the room.
	"I'm so glad you are better, Tom," she said. "I have something  to ask 
you, but I didn't want to bother you when you weren't well."
	"Go ahead," smiled Tom, thinking she was troubled about some trifling 
matter. "I'll be glad to help you."
	"That's just the trouble!" she exclaimed. "You've sent me help I don't 
	"I'm afraid I don't understand-" began the inventor, somewhat puzzled.
	"Why, a young woman came here a while ago with a note from you asking 
me to give her some work, as she needed it badly. She was to help with the 
spring-cleaning, it said, as if that wasn't done ago! She's a hard-looking 
blonde and, if I do say it, not the kind-"
	"But, Mrs. Baggert, I wrote you no note and certainly I never 
interfere with the way you run the house! Have you the note still?"
	The housekeeper thrust a hand into her apron pocket and took out a 
folded paper, which she handed to Tom.
	"This is a forgery!" he cried, after one glance. "A pretty good one, 
	"It certainly fooled me!" declared Mrs. Baggert. "But I'll soon settle 
that woman. The idea!"
	She hustled from the room, while Tom continued slowly to the library, 
wondering about the episode. It was very strange, to say the least. In a few 
moments the housekeeper returned, very much excited.
	"That- that woman is gone," she announced. "She didn't do a bit of 
work. I thought she was no good. Now what could she have wanted?"
	When Tom reached the cozy book-lined library the mystery was solved. 
As he looked toward the mantel to see what time it was, he saw that his rare 
and valuable birthday clock was gone!


	"That woman!" Tom cried. "She came here with false references to rob 
	"Oh!" shrieked Mrs. Baggert, who felt responsible for the theft. At a 
loss for further words she was glad to hear the doorbell ring. She hurried to 
let in Ned Newton.
	"Well!" he smiled when he saw Tom. "You must be better."
	"Yes, I'm all right now. But come in! We've been robbed!'
	"Yes, my fine clock, the one the men gave me on my birthday, has 
vanished!" The inventor rapidly told his chum what he suspected.
	"Hum, that does look funny," frowned Ned. When Mrs. Baggert gave a 
description of the woman, he said, "I'll bet she was the same blonde who was 
in the car that followed me the other day."
	"The clock ought to be easy to trace," said Ned, "if she sells it to 
some second-hand dealer."
	"That's just the point," replied Tom. "I have an idea it wasn't stolen 
for reasons of money. Otherwise the woman would have taken more articles, and 
smaller ones."
	"It seems pretty far-fetched to connect the robbery with the Purple 
Shirts, even though we suspect the driver of that yellow car was the man who 
called on you, Tom," said Ned. "If they're interested in overthrowing a 
government and buying silent air-planes for their work, of what use would an 
antique clock be?"
	"I couldn't possibly answer that."
	"This is a case for the police, Tom," Ned declared grimly. "That woman 
should be caught as soon as possible. I'll phone the detective bureau at 
	He lost no time in getting in touch with a private firm which was 
retained to act for the Swift Construction Company on a yearly basis. The 
agency promised to send one of their best operatives and lived up to this. 
Within an hour Detective Bright arrived. He was a keen, shrewd-looking young 
	"Please describe clock, Mr. Swift!" was his greeting when he came into 
the library where the boys were waiting.
	"It was of decidedly foreign make and workmanship," the inventor 
replied. "Very handsomely carved. But wait, there is a document which came 
with it, giving its history. I have it here in drawer. I haven't had time to 
look it over carefully yet."
	"Good. May be a clue there!" jerked the investigator, who seemed never 
to use anything but staccato phrases.
	Tom unfolded the paper and laid it flat on the library table. The 
three crowded around and commenced reading it.
	"Gonzo!" exclaimed Ned, glancing over the page. "Look, Tom, the clock 
is of ancient Ruthenian origin and it says here that it belonged to the 
famous general, Carlo Gonzo. He must be an ancestor of Pedro Gonzo, the man 
who tried to get you to invent something for his government.
	"Ha! There is a clue, then!" barked the detective. "How did you get 
the clock?"
	After all the facts of the case, as known to the boys, were made clear 
to Mr. Bright, he left saying he had other investigations to make.
	Next morning found the inventor his usual self once more, the effects 
of the Bartantalum entirely gone. He went to his office early and through a 
microscope found particles of blue powder on the radio loudspeaker.
	The young scientist devoted most of the morning on another experiment. 
This time he was going to combine his two latest inventions. Warned by his 
recent experience, he was extremely careful in handling the blue powder which 
was to play a part in the test.
	"I'm going to 'kill two birds with one shot,' Ned," he told the 
business manager when his work was completed. "Mr. Damon is ready to have his 
orchard sprayed, so I've charged the bomb with an insecticide. At the same 
trial I shall find out if Bartantalum will reduce the noise of the explosion. 
I have great hopes for that."
	"When are you going to try it?
	"Right now. Want to come along? I'm going to phone Mr. Damon and 
invite him to watch."
	"Thanks, but I have too much work staring me in the face," said Ned. 
"Good luck!"
	And good luck is just what Tom Swift had. To his satisfaction the 
liquid was distributed evenly over the peach trees and the blue powder 
rendered the discharge of the bomb almost inaudible.
	"Bless my firecrackers!" ejaculated Mr. Damon after the test was over. 
"I never would have believed it! Tom, you are a genius!"
	"I don't know about that," said the inventor. "But I am delighted with 
the experiment."
	Excited and pleased, young Swift hurried back to the Shopton plant to 
continue writing out formulas and working on the airplane silencer. Reaching 
his laboratory, he ordered sandwiches and milk brought. Then he left 
instructions that under no circumstances should he be disturbed.
	"Now for some work," he thought.
	First he ground to a powder a quantity of the Bartantalum and placed 
it in the electric smelting furnace. While the apparatus was heating, Tom 
rigged up a moving-picture camera and focused it through the quartz window 
upon the melting sub-stance. Then he settled down to a long vigil.
	"I must learn why the power plant was put out of commission the last 
time I broke down the ore!" he declared peering through the window in front 
of which he had arranged also a tiny, powerful spotlight and a number of 
lenses to aid his vision. "If I don't solve that-well, it will be practically 
impossible to make Bartantalum on a large scale!"
	The long, silent hours dragged by, the big laboratory in darkness save 
for the intense beam of white light projected into the furnace. Midnight came 
and went unnoticed by the intent young experimenter, who was keenly noting 
every change, however slight, that took place in the fiery mass in the 
smelter. Suddenly a green light leaped up.
	"That's it!" exclaimed Tom Swift, noting how crazily the pointer of 
the voltmeter behaved. "When the flame appears is the time to be careful," he 
added, shutting off the power. "Another instant and there would have been a 
burn-out in the power plant!"
	The metal by no means was reduced yet to the desired form. Tom had to 
keep adjusting the temperature as the little flame danced  over the crucible; 
too high a heat meant trouble; too low, and the chemical process would stop. 
It  was a delicate, nerve-straining job.
	"I must invent an automatic control," he thought wearily after two 
hours of watching.
	Almost overcome with drowsiness he let his eyelids slowly close. 
Finally he went sound asleep. Thus it was that he did not notice a thin film 
of smoke which began to curl beneath the door, leading to the corridor. It 
was some little time before he awoke, choking.
	"What is it?" he thought.
	In an instant he knew. Jumping up, he rushed into the hall, only to be 
met by a heavy volume of smoke which seemed to be coming from his office. His 
precious papers! He had left them all on top of his desk.
	"The automatic sprinkler!" he thought. "It will turn on pretty soon. 
It may keep the papers from burning up but the water will ruin my whole 
experiment here. An icy bath on that smelter will mean the end of 
	Quickly he turned off the sprinkler control in his laboratory, so the 
water would drain from the overhead pipes. Putting his coat over his head, he 
dashed from the room. The self-locking door slammed shut behind him. He was 


	Holding his breath until he was ready to burst, Tom made his way by 
instinct toward an outer door. Before he could reach it, he was forced to 
fill his lungs with the heavy smoke. Able to hold out no longer, he fell to 
the floor.
	"Mr. Swift! Mr. Swift!" the young inventor heard in the distance as he 
lost consciousness.
	To him it seemed an eternity, but in reality it was only a few seconds 
before one of the firemen of the plant had picked up his stricken employer 
and carried him outside the building.
	"Are you all right?" he asked as Tom opened his eyes.
	"Y-Yes," came the halting reply.
	Tom realized that a lot of activity was going on about him.
	"Is the fire a bad one?" he asked the man who still stood by him.
	"Mostly smoke," came the reply. "If you're feeling O. K., I'll go help 
the others."
	There was no need for this, for at that moment the chief came up with 
a welcome announcement.
	"Mr. Swift," he said, "the fire is out!"
	"That's good news!" said the young scientist. "Did it cause much 
	"No, I'm glad to say. Your sprinkler system held the flames in check 
until we could rig our hoses."
	"What caused the blaze, do you think?" asked Tom.
	"This!" The uniformed fire-fighter held up a blackened wire in his 
gloved hand. "A short-circuit in the wall."
	In a little while the corridors and rooms were entirely free of smoke. 
Tom, now able to make an inspection, was relieved to find that the damage 
amounted to little. His latest experiments were unharmed, a fact which 
induced him to go home and get some sleep.
	Since he had been under a constant, heavy strain for some time lately 
he allowed himself to be persuaded by Ned Newton the next morning to take the 
day off. The two went down to Lake Carlopa for a motorboat cruise.
	"You ought To do this more often," Ned told him that evening, as they 
made their craft fast to the pier. "You work entirely too hard!"
	"It was fun, all right," admitted the inventor. "And do you know I got 
a couple of good ideas while we were out there! If the Bartantulum were fused 
with rubber and aluminum it would be much more efficient."
	"Oh, you're hopeless!" chuckled his business manager. "Can't you EVER 
get your mind off your experiments?"
	"By the way," said Tom. "I'd like to phone home."
	As he went toward a booth, he noticed someone inside. Then he was 
startled to hear the person say, "This is Rumble, Mr. Damon. I'm calling to 
tell you I have to make a little business trip out of town. I won't be back 
for a few days."
	The man dashed from the booth without noticing Tom, who at once put 
money into the phone and dialed his home. Receiving a busy signal, he decided 
not to wait and sought out Ned.
	"Take a look over there at that man who is just driving off in the 
black sedan," Tom said to his chum. "He's Mr. Damon's caretaker, Rumble. I 
heard him say-"
	"Mr. Damon's caretaker?" Ned interrupted excitedly. "He's more than 
that- Why, that man's the one who followed me in a yellow car that time I 
told you about. He had the blonde woman with him."
	"Then he's probably the thief's accomplice!" cried Tom, equally 
perturbed. "Come on, let's catch him!"
	Capture was out of the question, however. Before the boys could get to 
their own auto, Rumble had disappeared. Though his pursuers tried for some 
time to trace him, they had no luck.
	"We'll warn Mr. Damon anyway," said Tom.
	This he did, then for two days young Swift plunged into concentrated 
work. Finally he came smiling to Ned announcing he had something to 
	"I've asked Dad to come," he told his chum.
	When his father arrived Tom took the two to his laboratory and showed 
them a thin disk some twelve inches in diameter, made of an unfamiliar-
looking substance.
	"This is an alloy of Bartantulum, rubber and aluminum," Tom explained. 
"Now, watch and listen!"
	He turned on a phonograph, which began blaring forth the strains of a 
lively march. When he suspended the disk near it, the sounds of the music 
faded to a mere whisper instantly.
	"Amazing!" cried Barton Swift, "I never dreamed you had made such an 
efficient sound-absorber. Congratulations, my boy!"
	"Thanks, Dad. But I'll show you it can take even louder noises an hush 
'em up!"
	Thereupon he reduced the noise of a large steel drill.
	"This is great!" exclaimed Ned, visions of increased bank account for 
the company in his mind. "There'll be a great demand for this stuff. Riveting 
machines, boiler factories; in fact, almost any sort of work can be done now 
in quiet! But what's the next step?"
	For answer he was shown a large, partially finished cylinder of the 
new alloy, shaped somewhat like a bullet.
	"This is the magnetic silencer for airplanes," said Tom. "The rod here 
will hold it on top of the ship."
	Shortly after lunch the silencer was taken over to Tom's private 
flying field. There he attached it to one of his larger planes which 
ordinarily flew with an almost deafening noise.
	"If this sound magnet works in this test," said the inventor, ready to 
climb in, "it will surely work on anything!"
	"Wait a minute!" called Ned, "Here comes somebody running!"
	Somewhat annoyed, Tom turned to see a man hurrying across the grass, 
waving something.
	"Special delivery letter, Mr. Swift!" he panted, handing the inventor 
an envelope. "It's from the government, so I thought you'd want it at once! I 
ran all the way."
	"Thanks," murmured the scientist, opening the letter. Suddenly he 
	"Bad news, Tom?" asked father dubiously.
	"I'll say it is. The War Department has notified me that another 
inventor has perfected a silencer and they're about to buy his patent."
	"Well, Tom I shouldn't worry too much," advised Ned. "I'm sure your 
invention is better than this other fellow's-no matter what they say."
	Nice of you to think so," replied the inventor, looking tired and 
somewhat discouraged. "Why, I'm not even sure my idea will work in a plane."
	Try it, my boy, try it!" urged Mr. Damon, who had just arrived.
	"I will!" decided Tom, infected by his friends enthusiasm. "Stand by 
the audio locator and see if you  can pick up anything."
	As the plane shot up only a faint hum sounded. In a few seconds even 
this died away. When the ship reached the five hundred foot level not even 
the locator with its big horns and electric amplifiers, could detect a trace 
of noise. It was weird, thought Ned, to see the powerful ship cruising 
overhead so silently, like a ghostly bat.
	"Tom has certainly succeeded!" declared his father proudly. "The boy 
has made-"
	"Sumpin's wrong wid de plane!" screeched old Eradicate Sampson. "It's 
a-burnin' up!"
	At this the others looked up from the listening device. The ship was 
very high now, but plainly they could see black smoke pouring from it. Then a 
figure leaped out and began falling.
	"Massa Tom done jumped!" moaned Rad. "He gwine be killed!"


	"No, no!" cried Mr. Swift. "He has a parachute. Oh, I hope it doesn't 
fail him!"
	"The 'chute has opened!" Ned yelled, much relieved. "Tom is safe now!"
	He had scarcely spoken when new danger loomed. The burning plane 
suddenly exploded and the flaming wreckage plunged earthward. For an 
agonizing; moment it seemed as if the fiery mass must surely strike the 
parachutist. It missed by a scant margin, so Tom was able to float down 
	"How did my magnetic silencer work?" was his first question, as he 
came toward them.
	"Thank goodness you escaped!" exclaimed Barton Swift. "Your device 
worked perfectly; we could not pick up a sound."
	"It's a wonderful thing!" burst out Mr. Damon. "Even though your fine 
ship is a total loss!" The eccentric man looked toward the smoking remains 
which had crashed some hundred yards away.
	"Bless my insurance policy, what caused the trouble?"
	"The Bartantalum affected the ignition system in some strange way, 
just as it did the power plant circuits," said the inventor, rather 
listlessly. "I could remedy that easily, but there's no use trying, now that 
the government has a plane-silencer."
	"But, Tom!" cried Ned. "That's not final yet. You still have a chance! 
Why not call the War Department right now and ask them for more time?"
	"It's no use, I tell you!" Tom Swift walked slowly away toward the 
	Without a word to anyone Ned Newton, life-long chum and admirer of the 
saddened inventor, caught an evening train for Washington. From the special 
delivery letter he had learned that the rival silencer was to be tested the 
next day. Through acquaintance with government officials he managed to get a 
pass to the army flying field where the  demonstration was to be held.
	"This Smathers may have a silencer," he muttered, watching the 
inventor bustling about the next morning, "but I'll bet it's not nearly as 
good as Tom's!"
	A little later, however, when the fast pursuit ship was over the field 
and the test in progress, he became dismayed. The man working the radio 
locator reported to the delighted officers that he couldn't pick up a sound. 
Then suddenly Ned looked critically at the sound detector; he became hopeful 
for Tom.
	"That's an old type locator!" he objected. "Perhaps a modern one, such 
as an enemy force surely would have, could pick up the plane!"
	"Lieutenant James, are we using old-style equipment?" briskly asked a 
gray-haired officer in charge.
	The young soldier hesitated, then said there was no modern locator at 
the field.
	"Then get one!" ordered his superior. "This test must be thorough!"
	When the new instrument was brought, a different story was told. With 
it the operator could easily hear the Smathers' plane.
	"Tom Swift has a better invention!" declared Ned, speaking to the army 
men, some of whom looked doubtful.
	A Colonel Brooks, who had the final say, told the delighted business 
manager from Shopton that the decision would be postponed and that Tom Swift 
would be given a chance to demonstrate his device.
	"And now for a hasty lunch before I hop home," said Ned, smiling to 
	Entering a restaurant near the airport, he was amazed to see three men 
deep in conversation in a little alcove. Fortunately they did not notice Ned, 
who recognized them at once. Quickly he took a seat as near them as possible 
but out of sight.
	"Rumble!" he murmured. "And Gonzo! The other man-I have it!" he 
thought excitedly. "He's the blonde woman. I'd know that face anywhere. So he 
dressed up like a maid to get into the Swift home-"
	Mr. Damon's erstwhile caretaker began to speak. "Mr. Gonzo?" he said, 
"the Smathers' airplane silencer is a great success. I saw it demonstrated 
myself this morning. Now there are three groups who can buy this; yourself, 
the United States, and your enemies, The Purple Shirts. As manager for Mr. 
Smathers, I am authorized to sell to the highest bidder."
	"Ze Purple Shirts?" gasped Pedro Gonzo. "How come you to know about 
	Rumble coughed importantly. "I-eh-well, as a matter of fact I have 
been doing some work for them in this country."
	"Zey are bad," said Gonzo.
	"That's what we thought," agreed Rumble. "They asked us to locate a 
certain clock for them. We did, paying a very large sum for it. We have not 
delivered it yet, for we find it once belonged to your family. Would you-er-
care-to buy it?"
	"My family-zey would be overjoy. Many years ago it was stolen-"
	Ned waited to hear no more. Hurrying from the room he rushed to a 
phone booth in the hall and got in touch with F.B.I Headquarters. Quickly he 
explained his need for speedy assistance.

* * * * * * * * * * 

	"Well, Mr. Tom, she does all right!" declared Mr. Jackson.
	"I agree!" The inventor smiled triumphantly "The motor has been 
running nearly four hours now without one hitch. Thanks to Ned, we're still 
in the race!"
	Galvanized into action by his friend's wire from Washington, Tom Swift 
had made another Bartantalum "cigar" and mounted it on an airplane. This time 
he shielded his invention with pipes kept very cold by means of liquid 
sulphur dioxide, in order to protect the apparatus from heat.
	"It's only when the blue stuff gets hot," he said to the chief  
engineer, "as in the smelter or near a red-hot engine that it affects 
electrical circuits."
	Tom returned to his office, leaving Jackson on watch. He had just sat 
down behind his desk when in rushed his business manager, much excited.
	"I got 'em!" Ned cried. "Locked in jail!"
	"Hey, take it easy!" protested Tom. "What are you raving about? Who is 
in jail?"
	Collecting himself by an effort, Ned told his chum as calmly as he 
could what had transpired in Washington.
	"Gee, Ned, you're the best pal fellow ever had," replied Tom, deeply 
affected by the news. "Say," he added to cover his embarrassment, "I just 
thought of a reason why Rumble wanted to be at Mr. Damon's farm."
	"To keep track of you and your experiments out there," supplied Ned.
	"Partly," agreed Tom. "But how about the lonely spot being a wonderful 
place in which to hide stolen goods?"
	"I get your idea," replied Ned. "Let's hurry out there!"
	Together the chums raced along the country roads in Tom's roadster, 
quickly reaching the farm. After what appeared to be a thorough search they 
were ready to go home, beaten. Suddenly Tom gave a cry.
	"There's a loose board in the floor!"
	Excited, he pried this up with a knife. Hidden in the space thus 
exposed was the wonderful antique clock, wrapped loosely in old newspapers. 
Near it lay the papers rifled from Mr. Damon's wallet.
	"I suppose I'll have to turn this clock over to Pedro Gonzo," said 
Tom, and at once called the man by long distance. As soon as he finished his 
conversation, the young inventor turned happily to his chum. "Gonzo insists I 
retain the clock as a little token of appreciation from the ruling family of 
Ruthenia. He says that we kept his government from paying a lot of money to 
those two scoundrels, Rumble and Blondie. In order to get ahead of the Purple 
Shirts, he was just about to offer them a huge sum for a worthless invention. 
You know of course that Smathers gave them no authority to represent him. 
Well, Ned, you get all the credit."
	With a blush the business manager mumbled he hadn't done any more than 
he should have. Then he added, "Tom, it's time to start for Washington to 
keep your appointment for a demonstration of your wonderful silencer."
	This time young Swift had no difficulty in demonstrating his 
remarkable invention. To the critical examining board he showed that even the 
most sensitive audio locator could not pick up a sound from a plane equipped 
with his device, even when flying comparatively low. The officers were so 
impressed that they cheered the young inventor again and again after he had 
completed the tests.
	"You have made a very great contribution to your country's defenses, 
Mr. Swift!" declared Colonel Brooks, after formally accepting the use of the 
magnetic silencer on behalf of the United States.
	"In war or peace the invention will prove a blessing," said Barton 
Swift, looking proudly at his son.

The End