Tom Swift And His Air Glider
Part 1 out of 4
TOM SWIFT AND HIS AIR GLIDER
Seeking the Platinum Treasure
I A Breakdown
II A Daring Project
III The Hand of the Czar
IV The Search
V A Clew from Russia
VI Rescuing Mr. Petrofsky
VII The Air Glider
VIII In a Great Gale
IIX The Spies
X Off in the Airship
XI A Storm at Sea
XII An Accident
XIII Seeking a Quarrel
XIV Hurried Flight
XVI The Nihlists
XVII On to Siberia
XVIII In a Russian Prison
XIX Lost in a Salt Mine
XX The Escape
XXI The Rescue
XXII In the Hurricane
XXIII The Lost Mine
XXIV The Leaking Tanks
XXV Homeward Bound--Conclusion
TOM SWIFT AND HIS AIR GLIDER
"Well, Ned, are you ready?"
"Oh, I suppose so, Tom. As ready as I ever shall be."
"Why, Ned Newton, you're not getting afraid; are you? And
after you've been on so many trips with me?"
"No, it isn't exactly that, Tom. I'd go in a minute if you
didn't have this new fangled thing on your airship. But how
do you know how it's going to work--or whether it will work
at all? We may come a cropper."
"Bless my insurance policy!" exclaimed a man who was
standing near the two lads who were conversing. "You'd
better keep near the ground, Tom."
"Oh, that's all right, Mr. Damon," answered Tom Swift.
"There isn't any more danger than there ever was, but I
guess Ned is nervous since our trip to the underground city
"I am not!" indignantly exclaimed the other lad, with a
look at the young inventor. "But you know yourself, Tom,
that putting this new propeller on your airship, changing
the wing tips, and re-gearing the motor has made an
altogether different sort of a craft of it. You, yourself,
said it wasn't as reliable as before, even though it does go
"Now look here, Ned!" burst out Tom. "That was last week
that I said it wasn't reliable. It is now, for I've tried it
out several times, and yet, when I ask you to take a trip
with me, to act as ballast--"
"Is that all you want me for, Tom, to act as ballast? Then
you'd better take a bag of sand--or Mr. Damon here!"
"Me? I guess not! Bless my diamond ring! My wife hasn't
forgiven me for going off on that last trip with you, Tom,
and I'm not going to take any more right away. But I don't
"Say, look here!" cried Tom, a little out of patience,
"you know me better than that, Ned. Of course your more than
ballast--I want you to help me manage the craft since I made
the changes on her. Now if you don't want to come, why say
so, and I'll get Eradicate. I don't believe he'll be afraid,
even if he--"
"Hold on dar now, Massa Tom!" exclaimed an aged colored
man, who was an all around helper at the Swift homestead,
"was yo' referencin' t' me when yo' spoke?"
"Yes, Rad, I was saying that if Ned wouldn't go up in the
airship with me you would."
"Well, now, Masa Tom, I shorely would laik t' 'blige yo',
I shore would. But de fack ob de mattah am dat I has a mos'
particular job ob white washin' t' do dish mornin', an' I
'spects I'd better be gittin' at it. It's a mos' particiilar
job, an', only fo' dat, I'd be mos' pleased t' go up in de
airship. But as it am, I mus' ax yo' t' 'scuse me, I really
mus'," and the colored man shuffled off at a faster gait
than he was in the habit of using.
"Well, of all things!" gasped Tom. "I believe you're all
afraid of the old airship, just because I wade some changes
in her. I'll go up alone, that's what I will."
"No, I'll go with you," interposed Ned Newton who was
Tom's most particular chum. "I only wanted to be sure it was
all right, that was all."
"Well, if you've fully made up your mind," went on the
young inventor, a little mollified, "lend me a hand to get
her in shape for a run. I expect to make faster time than I
ever did before, and I'm going to head out Waterford way.
You'd better come along, Mr. Damon, and I'll drop you off at
"Bless my feather bed!" gasped the man. "Drop me off! I
like that, Tom Swift!"
"Oh, I didn't mean it exactly that way," laughed Tom. "But
will you come."
"No, thanks, I'm going home by trolley," and then as the
odd man went in the house to speak to Tom's father, the two
lads busied themselves about the airship.
This was a large aeroplane, one of the largest Tom Swift
had ever constructed, and he was a lad who had invented many
kinds of machinery besides crafts for navigating the upper
regions. It was not as large as his combined aeroplane and
dirigible balloon of which I have told you in other books,
but it was of sufficient size to carry three persons besides
Tom had built it some years before, and it had seemed good
enough then. Later he constructed some of different models,
besides the big combination affair, and he had gone on
several trips in that.
He and his chum Ned, together with Eradicate Sampson, the
colored man, and Mr. Damon, had been to a wonderful
underground city of gold in Mexico, and it was soon after
their return from this perilous trip that Tom had begun the
work of changing his old aeroplane into a speedier craft.
This had occupied him most of the Winter, and now that
Spring had come he had a chance to try what a re-built
motor, changed propellers, and different wing tips would do
for the machine.
The time had come for the test and, as we have seen, Tom
had some difficulty in persuading anyone to go along with
him? But Ned finally got over his feeling of nervousness.
"Understand, Tom," spoke Ned, "it isn't because I don't
think you know how to work an aeroplane that I hesitated.
I've been up in the air with you enough times to know that
you're there with the goods, but I don't believe even you
know what this machine is going to do."
"I can pretty nearly tell. I'm sure my theory is right."
"I don't doubt that. But will it work out in practice?"
"She may not make all the speed I hope she will, and I may
not be able to push her high into the air quicker than I
used to before I made the changes," admitted Tom, "but I'm
sure of one thing. She'll fly, and she won't come down until
I'm ready to let her. So you needn't worry about getting
"All right--if you say so. Now what do you want me to do,
"Go over the wire guys and stays for the first thing.
There's going to be lots of vibration, with the re-built
motor, and I want everything tight."
"Aye, aye, sir!" answered Ned with a laugh.
Then he set at his task, tightening the small nuts, and
screwing up the turn-buckles, while Tom busied himself over
the motor. There was some small trouble with the carburetor
that needed eliminating before it would feed properly.
"How about the tires?" asked Ned, when he had finished the
"You might pump them up. There, the motor is all right.
I'm going to try it now, while you attend to the tires."
Ned had pumped up one of the rubber circlets of the small
bicycle wheels on which the aeroplane rested, and was
beginning on the second, when a noise like a battery of
machine guns going off next to his ear startled him so that
he jumped, tripped over a stone and went down, the air pump
thumping him in the back.
"What in the world happened, Tom?" he yelled, for he had
to use all his lung power to be heard above that racket.
"Did it explode?"
"Explode nothing!" shouted Tom. "That's the re-built motor
"In action! I should say it was in action. Is it always
going to roar like that?"
Indeed the motor was roaring away, spitting fire and burnt
gases from the exhaust pipe, and enveloping the aeroplane in
a whitish haze of choking smoke.
No, I have the muffler cut out, and that's why she barks
so. But she runs easier that way, and I want to get her
smoothed out a bit.
"Whew! That smoke!" gasped his chum. "Why don't you--whew-
-this is more than I can stand," and holding his hands to
his smarting eyes, Ned, gasping and choking, staggered away
to where the air was better.
"It is sort of thick," admitted Tom. "But that's only
because she's getting too much oil. She'll clear in a few
minutes. Stick around and we'll go up."
Despite the choking vapor, the young inventor stuck to his
task of regulating the motor, and in a short while the smoke
became less, while the big propeller blades whirled about
more evenly. Then Tom adjusted the muffler, and most of the
"Come on back, and finish pumping up the tires," he
shouted to Ned. "I'm going to stop her now, and then I'll
give her the pressure test, and we'll take a trip."
Having cleared his eyes of smoke, Ned came back to his
task, and this having been finished, Tom attached a heavy
spring balance, or scales, to the rope that held the airship
back from moving when her propellers were whirling about.
"How much pressure do you want?" asked Ned.
"I ought to get above twelve hundred With the way the
motor is geared, but I'll go up with ten. Watch the needle
It may be explained that when aeroplanes are tested on the
earth the propellers are set in motion. This of course would
send a craft whizzing over the ground, eventually to rise in
the air, but for the fact that a rope, attached to the
craft, and to some stationary object, holds it back.
Now if this rope is hooked to a spring balance, which in
turn is made fast to the stationary object, the "thrust" of
the propellers will be registered in pounds on the scale of
the balance. Anywhere from five hundred to nine hundred
pounds of thrust will take a monoplane or biplane up. But
Tom wanted more than this.
Once more the motor coughed and spluttered, and the big
blades whirled about so fast that they seemed like solid
pieces of wood. Tom stood on the ground near the levers
which controlled the speed, and Ned watched the scale.
"How much?" yelled the young inventor.
Tom turned on a little more gasolene.
"How much?" he cried again.
"Ten hundred. That'll do!"
"No, I'm going to try for more.
Again he advanced the spark and gasolene levers, and the
comparatively frail craft vibrated so that it seemed as if
she would fly apart.
"Now?" yelled Tom.
"Eleven hundred and fifty!" cried Ned.
"Good! That'll do it. She'll give more after she's been
running a while. We'll go up."
Ned scrambled to his seat, and Tom followed. He had an
arrangement so that he could slip loose the retaining rope
from his perch whenever he was ready.
Waiting until the motor had run another minute, the young
inventor pulled the rope that released them. Over the
smooth starting ground that formed a part of the Swift
homestead darted the aeroplane. Faster and faster she moved,
Ned gripping the sides of his seat.
"Here we go!" cried Tom, and the next instant they shot up
into the air.
Ned Newton had ridden many times with his chum Tom, and
the sensation of gliding through the upper regions was not
new to him. But this time there was something different. The
propellers seemed to take hold of the air with a firmer
grip. There was more power, and certainly the speed was
"We're going fast!" yelled Ned into Tom's ear.
"That's right," agreed the young inventor. "She'll beat
anything but my Sky Racer, and she'd do that if she was the
same size." Tom referred to a very small aeroplane he had
made some time before. It was like some big bird, and very
Up and onward went the remodeled airship, faster and
faster, until, when several miles had been covered, Ned
realized that the young inventor had achieved another
"It's great, Tom! Great!" he yelled.
"Yes, I guess it will do, Ned. I'm satisfied. If there was
an international meet now I'd capture some of the prizes. As
Tom stopped suddenly. His voice which had been raised to
overcome the noise of even the muffled motor, sounded
unnaturally loud, and no wonder, for the engine had ceased
"What's the matter?" gasped Ned.
"I don't know--a breakdown of some kind."
"Can you get it going again?"
"I'm going to try."
Tom was manipulating various levers, but with no effect.
The aeroplane was shooting downward with frightful rapidity.
"No use!" exclaimed the young inventor. "Something has
"But We're falling, Tom!"
"I know it. We've done it before. I'm going to volplane to
This, it may be explained, is gliding downward from a
height with the engine shut off. Aeroplanists often do it,
and Tom was no novice at the art.
They shot downward with less speed now, for the young
inventor had thrown up his headplanes to act as a sort of
brake. Then, a little later they made a good landing in a
field near a small house, in a rather lonely stretch of
country, about ten miles from Shopton, where Tom lived.
"Now to see what the trouble is," remarked our hero, as he
climbed out of his seat and began looking over the engine.
He poked in among the numerous cogs, wheels and levers, and
finally uttered an exclamation.
"Find it?" asked Ned.
"Yes, it's in the magneto. All the platinum bearings and
contact surfaces have fused and crystallized. I never saw
such poor platinum as I've been getting lately, and I pay
the highest prices for it, too. The trouble is that the
supply of platinum is giving out, and they'll have to find a
substitute I guess."
"Can't we go home in her?" asked Ned.
"I'm afraid not. I've got to put in new platinum bearings
and contacts before she'll spark. I only wish I could get
hold of some of the better kind of metal."
The magneto of an aeroplane performs a service similar to
one in an automobile. It provides the spark that explodes
the charge of gas in the cylinders, and platinum is a metal,
more valuable now than gold, much used in the delicate parts
of the magneto.
"Well, I guess it's walk for ours," said Ned ruefully.
"I'm afraid so," went on Tom. "If I only had some
platinum, I could--"
"Perhaps I could be of service to you," suddenly spoke a
voice behind them, and turning, the youths saw a tall,
bearded man, who had evidently come from the lonely house.
"Did I hear you say you needed some platinum?" he asked. He
spoke with a foreign accent, and Tom at once put him down
for a Russian.
"Yes, I need some for my magneto," began the young
"If you will kindly step up to my house, perhaps I can
give you what you want," went on the man. "My name is Ivan
Petrofsky, and I have only lately come to live here."
"I'm Tom Swift, of Shopton, and this is my chum, Ned
Newton," replied the young inventor, completing the
introductions. He was wondering why the man, who seemed a
cultured gentleman, should live in such a lonely place, and
he was wondering too how he happened to have some platinum.
"Will that answer?" asked Mr. Petrofsky, when they had
reached his house, and he had handed Tom several strips of
the precious silverlike metal.
"Do? I should say it would! My, but that is the best
platinum I've seen in a long while!" exclaimed Tom, who was
an expert judge of this metal. "Where did you get it, if I
"It came from a lost mine in Siberia," was the unexpected
"A lost mine?" gasped Tom.
"In Siberia?" added Ned.
Mr. Petrofsky slowly nodded his head, and smiled, but
"A lost mine," he said slowly, "and if it could be found I
would be the happiest man on earth for I would then be able
to locate and save my brother, who is one of the Czar's
exiles," and he seemed shaken by emotion.
Tom and Ned stood looking at the bearded man, and then the
young inventor glanced at the platinum strips in his hand
while a strange and daring thought came to him.
A DARING PROJECT
While Tom and his chum are in the house of the Russian,
who so strangely produced the platinum just when it was most
needed, I am going to take just a little time to tell you
something about the hero of this story. Those who have read
the previous books of this series need no introduction to
him, but in justice to my new readers I must make a little
Tom Swift was an inventor, as was his father before him.
But Mr. Swift was getting too old, now, to do much, though
he had a pet invention--that of a gyroscope--on which he
worked from time to time. Tom lived with his father in the
village of Shopton, in New York state. His mother was dead,
but a housekeeper, named Mrs. Baggert, looked after the
wants of the inventors, young and old.
The first book of the series was called "Tom Swift and His
Motor-Cycle," and in that I related how Tom bought the
machine from a Mr. Wakefield Damon, of Waterford, after the
odd gentleman had unintentionally started to climb a tree
with it. That disgusted Mr. Damon with motor-cycling, and
Tom had lots of fun on the machine, and not a few daring
He and Mr. Damon became firm friends, and the oddity of
the gentleman--mainly that of blessing everything he could
think of--was no objection in Tom's mind. The young inventor
and Ned Newton went on many trips together, Mr. Damon being
one of the party.
In Shopton lived Andy Foger, a bullying sort of a chap,
who acted very meanly toward Tom at times. Another resident
of the town was a Mr. Nestor, but Tom was more interested in
his daughter Mary than in the head of the household. Add
Eradicate Sampson, an eccentric colored man who said he got
his name because he "eradicated" dirt, and his mule,
Boomerang, and I think you have met the principal characters
of these stories.
After Tom had much enjoyment out of his motor-cycle, he
got a motor boat, and one of his rivals on Lake Carlopa was
this same Andy Foger, but our hero vanquished him. Then Tom
built an airship, which had been the height of his ambition
for some years. He had a stirring cruise in the Red Cloud,
and then, deserting the air for the water, Tom and his
father built a submarine, in which they went after sunken
treasure. In the book, "Tom Swift and His Electric
Runabout," I told how, in the speediest car on the road, Tom
saved his father's bank from ruin, and in the book dealing
with Tom's wireless message I related how he saved the
Castaways of Earthquake Island.
When Tom went among the diamond makers, at the request of
Mr. Barco Jenks, and discovered the secret of phantom
mountain the lad fancied that might be the end of his
adventures, but there were more to follow. Going to the
caves of ice, his airship was wrecked, but he and his
friends managed to get back home, and then it was that the
young inventor perfected his sky racer, in which he made the
quickest flight on record.
Most startling were his adventures in elephant land
whither he went with his electric rifle, and he was the
means of saving a missionary, Mr. Illingway and his wife,
from the red pygmies.
Tom had not been home from Africa long before he got a
letter from this missionary, telling about an underground
City in Mexico that was said to be filled with gold. Tom
went there, and in the book, entitled, "Tom Swift in the
City of Gold," I related his adventures.
How he and his friends were followed by the Fogers, how
they eluded them, made their way to the ruined temple in a
small dirigible balloon, descended to the secret tunnel,
managed to turn aside the underground river, and reach the
city of gold with its wonderful gold statues--all this is
told in the volume.
Then, after pulling down, in the centre of the underground
city, the big golden statue, the door of rock descended, and
made our friends prisoners. They almost died, but Andy Foger
and his father, in league with some rascally Mexicans and a
tribe of head-hunters, finally made their way to the tunnel,
and most unexpectedly, released Tom and his friends.
There was a fight, but our hero's party escaped with
considerable gold and safely reached Shopton. Now, after a
winter spent in work, fixing over an old aeroplane, we again
"Would you mind telling me something about where this
platinum comes from, and if you can get any more of it?"
asked Tom, after a pause, following the strange statement
made by the Russian.
"I will gladly tell you the story," spoke Mr. Petrofsky,
"for I am much interested in inventions, and I formerly did
something in that line myself, and I have even made a small
aeroplane, so you see I know the need of platinum in a high
"But where did you get such pure metal?" asked Tom. "I
have never seen it's equal."
"There is none like it in all the world," went on the
Russian, "and perhaps there never can be any more. I have
only a small supply. But in Siberia --in the lost mine--
there is a large quantity of it, as pure as this, needing
only a little refining.
"Can't we get some from there?" asked the young inventor
eagerly. "I should think the Russian government would mine
it, and export it."
"They would--if they could find it," said Ivan Petrofsky
dryly, "but they can't--no one can find it--and I have tried
very hard--so hard, in fact, that it is the reason for my
coming to this country--that and the desire to find and aid
my brother, who is a Siberian exile."
"This is getting interesting," remarked Ned to Tom in a
low voice, and the young inventor nodded.
"My brother Peter, who is younger than I by a few years,
and I, are the last of our family," began Mr. Petrofsky,
motioning Tom and Ned to take chairs. "We lived in St.
Petersburg, and early in life, though we were of the
nobility, we took up the cause of the common people."
"Nihilists?" asked Ned eagerly, for he had read something
of these desperate men.
"No, and not anarchists," said Mr. Petrofsky with a sad
smile. "Our party was opposed to violence, and we depended
on education to aid our cause. Then, too, we did all we
could in a quiet way to help the poor. My brother and I
invented several life-saving and labor-saving machines and
in this way we incurred the enmity of the rich contractors
and government officials, who made more money the more
people they could have working for them, for they made the
people buy their food and supplies from them.
"But my brother, and I persisted, with the result that we
were both arrested, and, with a number of others were sent
"Of the horrors we endured there I will say nothing.
However, you have probably read much. In the country near
which we were quartered there were many mines, some of salt
and some of sulphur. Oh, the horrors of those mines! Many a
poor exile has been lost in the windings of a salt mine,
there to die miserably. And in the sulphur mines many die
also, not from being lost so much as being overcome by
stifling gases. It is terrible! And sometimes they are
purposely abandoned by their guides, for the government
wants to get rid of certain exiles.
"But you are interested in platinum. One day my brother
and I who had been sent to work in the salt mines, mistook a
turning and wandered on and on for several miles, finally
losing our way. We had food and water with us, or we would
have perished, and, as it was, we nearly died before we
finally found our way out of an abandoned opening.
"We came out in the midst of a terrible snowstorm, and
wandered about almost frozen. At last we were found by a
serf who, in his sled, took us to his poor cottage. There we
were warmed and fed back to life.
"We knew we would be searched for, as naturally, our
absence would lead to the suspicion that we had tried to
escape. So as soon as we were able, we started back to the
town where we were quartered. The serf wanted to take us in
his sled, but we knew he might be suspected of having tried
to aid us to get away, and he might be arrested. So we went
"As might have been expected, we became lost again, and
wandered about for several days. But we had enough food to
keep us alive. And it was during this wandering that I came
upon the platinum mine. It was down in a valley, in the
midst of a country densely wooded and very desolate. There
was an outcropping of the ore, and rather idly I put some of
it in my pockets. Then we wandered on, and finally after
awful suffering in terrific storms, were found by a
searching party and brought back to the barracks."
"Did they think you had escaped?" asked Tom.
"They did," replied the Russian, "and they punished us
severely for it, in spite of our denials. In time I managed
secretly to smelt the platinum ore, and I found I had some
of the purest metal I had ever seen. I was wishing I could
find the mine, or tell some of my friends about it, when one
of the officers discovered the metal in my bed.
"He demanded to know where I had gotten it, and knowing
that refusal would only make it the worse for me I told him.
There was considerable excitement, for the value of the
discovery was recognized, and a search was at once made for
"But, even with the aid we were able to give, it could not
be located. Many expeditions went out to hunt for it but
came back baffled. They could not penetrate that wild
"They should have used an aeroplane," suggested Tom.
"They did," replied the Russian quickly, "but it was of no
"Why not?" the young inventor wanted to know.
"Because of the terrific winds that almost continually
sweep over that part of Siberia. They never seem to cease,
and there are treacherous air currents and 'pockets' that
engulfed more than one luckless aviator. Oh, you may be sure
the Russian government spared no means of finding the lost
platinum mine, but they could not locate it, or even get
near the place where they supposed it to be.
"Then, perhaps thinking that my brother and I were
concealing something, they separated us. Where they sent him
I do not know, but I was doomed to the sulphur mines. I was
heartbroken, and I scarcely cared whether I lived or died.
But an opportunity of escape came, and I took it. I wanted
to save my brother, but I did not know where he was, and I
thought if I could make my way to some civilized country, or
to free America, I might later be able to save my brother.
"I went to England, taking some of my precious platinum
with me, and stayed there for two years. I learned your
language, but my efforts to organize an expedition to search
for the lost mine, and for my brother, failed. Then I came
here, and--well, I am still trying."
"My! That is certainly interesting!" exclaimed Ned, who
had been all attention during the telling of the story.
"And you certainly had a hard time," declared Tom. "I am
much obliged for this platinum. Have you set a price on it?
It is worth much more than the ordinary kind."
"The price is nothing to you," replied the Russian, with a
smile. "I am only too glad to help you fix your aeroplane.
Will it take long? I should like to watch you."
"Come along," invited Tom. "I can soon have it going
again, and I'll give you a ride, if you like."
"No, thank you, I'm hardly up to that yet, though I may be
some day. The machine I made never flew well and I had
several bad falls."
Tom and Ned worked rapidly on the magneto, and soon had
replaced the defective bits of platinum.
"If the Russians had such a machine as this maybe they
could have gotten to that mine," suggested Ned, who was very
proud of Tom's craft.
"It would be useless in the terrific winds, I fear,"
answered Ivan Petrofsky. "But now I care little for the
mine. It is my brother whom I want to save. He must be in
some of the Siberian mines, and if I had such a craft as
this I might be able to rescue him."
Tom Swift dropped the file he was using. A bright light
sparkled in his eyes. He seemed strangely excited.
"Mr. Petrofsky!" he cried, "would you let me have a try at
finding your brother, and would you come with me?"
"Would I?" asked the Russian eagerly. "I would be your
debtor for life, and I would always pray for you, if you
could help me to save my brother Peter."
"Then we'll have a try at it!" cried Tom. "I've got a
different airship than this--one in which I can travel three
thousand miles without coming down. I haven't had any
excitement since I got back from the city of gold. I'm going
to Russia to help you rescue your brother from exile, and
I'm also going to have a try for that lost platinum
"Thank heaven, there is some hope for poor Peter at last,"
murmured Mr. Petrofsky earnestly.
"You never can get to the platinum mine," said Ned. The
winds will tear your airship to pieces."
"Not the kind I'm going to make," declared Tom. "It's
going to be an air glider, that will fairly live on high
winds. Ho! for Siberia and the platinum mines. Will you
"I don't know what you mean by an air glider, Tom Swift,
but I'll go to help rescue my brother," was the quick
answer, and then, with the light of a daring resolve shining
in his eyes, the young inventor proceeded to get his
aeroplane in shape for the trip back to Shopton.
THE HAND OF THE CZAR
"Then you won't take a ride with me to-day. asked the young
inventor, of the Russian, as he completed the repairs to the
magneto. "I'd like to have you meet my father, and a friend
of his, Mr. Damon. Most likely he'll go to Siberia with us,
if his wife will let him. I'd like to talk some plans over
"I shall certainly call on you," answered Ivan Petrofsky,
"but," he added with a smile, "I think I should prefer to
take my first ride in your larger airship--the one that
doesn't come down so often."
"Well, perhaps it is a little easier on an amateur,"
admitted Tom. "If you'll come over to our house at any time
I'll take you out in it, or I'll call for you."
"I'll come over in a few days," answered the escaped
exile. "Then I'll tell you all I know of the locality where
the platinum mine is located, and we can make our plans. In
the meanwhile don't say anything about what I have told
"Why?" asked Ned quickly.
Mr. Petrofsky approached closer to the lads, and in a low
"I am not sure about it, but of late I think I have been
shadowed. I have seen strange men in the village near here
and they have eyed me rather suspiciously. Then, too, I have
surprised several men around my house. I live here all
alone, you know, and do most of my own work, a woman coming
in occasionally to clean. But I don't like these suspicious
characters hanging about.
"Who do you think they are?" asked Tom
"I'm almost afraid to think, but from my past experience I
think--nay, I fear--they may be spies, or agents of the
"Spies!" cried Ned.
"Hush. Not so loud," cautioned Mr. Petrofsky. "They may
even now be in hiding, especially since your aeroplane
landed so near my house. They may see something suspicious
even in that."
"But why should the Russian government set spies on you?"
asked Tom in a low voice.
"For two reasons. I am an escaped exile, and I
am not a citizen of the United States. Therefore
I may be sent back to the sulphur mines. And
another reason is that they may think I know the
secret of the platinum treasure--the lost mine."
"Say this is getting interesting!" exclaimed Tom. "If we
are going to have a brush with some of the spies of the
Russian government so much the better. I'm ready for 'em!"
"So am I!" added Ned.
"You don't know them," said Mr. Petrofsky, and he could
not repress a shudder. "I hope they are not on my trail, but
if they are--" he paused a moment, straightened himself up,
and looked like what he was, a strong man-- "if they are let
them look out. I'd give my life to save my brother from the
awful, living death to which he is consigned!"
"And we're with you!" cried Tom, offering the Russian his
hand. "We'll turn the trick yet. Now don't forget to come
and see us. Come along, Ned. If I'm going to build an air
glider I've got to get busy." And waving farewells to their
new friend, the lads took their places in the aeroplane and
were soon on their way to Shopton.
"Well, what do you think of it?" asked Ned of his chum, as
they sped along at a good elevation, the engine going at
half speed to be less noisy and make talking easier.
"Lots. I think we're in for a good time." an exciting one,
anyhow, if what he says is true. But what in the world is an
air glider, Tom?"
"It's the last word in aeroplanes. You don't need a motor
to make it go."
"Don't need a motor?"
"No, the wind does it all. It's a sort of aeroplane, but
the motion comes from the wind, acting on different planes,
and this is accomplished by shifting weights. In it you can
stand still in a fierce gale, if you like."
"How, by tying her fast on the ground?"
"No, hovering in the air. It's all done by getting the
proper balance. The harder the wind blows the better the air
glider works, and that's why I think it will be just the
thing for Siberia. I'm going to get right at work on it, and
you'll help me; won't you?"
"I sure will. Say, is platinum worth much?"
"Worth much? I should say it was! It's got gold beat now,
and the available supply is very small, and it's getting
more scarce. Russia has several mines, and the metal is of
good quality. I've used some Russian platinum, but the kind
Mr. Petrofsky gave me to-day was better than the best I ever
had. If we can only find that lost mine we'll be
millionaires all right."
"That's what we thought when we found the city of gold,
but the gold wasn't of as fine a grade as we hoped."
"Well, nothing like that can happen in this platinum deal.
It sure is rich ore that Mr. Petrofsky and his brother
found. Poor fellow! To think of being an exile in that awful
country, not knowing where you may be sent next. No wonder
Mr. Petrofsky wants to rescue him."
"That's right. Well, here we are. I wonder what your
father will say when he hears you're thinking of another
"Oh, he'll want me to go when he hears about the exile."
"And I'm sure my folks will let me go. How about Mr.
"I don't believe we can hold him back. It will make a nice
party, just you and I, and Mr. Damon and Mr. Petrofsky. That
will leave room for the other Russian--if we can rescue
him," and with that Tom shut off the engine and glided to
It may well be imagined that Mr. Swift was surprised when
his son told him the latest news, but he did not offer any
serious objection to the young inventor going to Siberia.
"Only you must be careful," he said. "Those Russian
officers are ugly when it comes to trying to take away any
of their prisoners. And this air glider--I don't exactly
know about that. It's a new machine, and you want to be sure
it works before you trust yourself to it."
"I will," promised Tom. "Say, I've got plenty of work
ahead of me,--to get my big airship in shape, and build the
glider. You'll have to help me, dad."
"I will, son. Now tell me more about this Mr. Petrofsky."
Which Tom did.
The days that followed were indeed busy ones for Tom. The
young inventor made a model air glider that sailed fairly
well, but he knew it would have to work better to be
successful, and he bent all his energies in that direction.
Meanwhile Mr. Damon had been told of the prospective trip.
"Bless my bank book! Of course I'll go," he said. "But
don't say anything about it to my wife--that is, just yet.
I'll bring her around to it gradually. She has always wanted
a diamond ring set in platinum, and now I can get it for
her. I know she'll let me go if I break it to her gently."
It may be mentioned here that many valuable diamonds are
now set in platinum instead of gold.
"I want to keep busy," said Mr. Damon, so Tom set him, Ned
and Eradicate at the task of getting the big airship in
shape for the trip. This air craft has not figured in any of
my previous stories, but as it is so nearly like the one
that was crushed in the caves of ice, I will not give a
description of it here. Those who care to may refer to the
book telling of Tom's trip to the caves of ice for a
detailed account of the craft.
Sufficient to say that this latest airship, named the
Falcon, was the largest Tom had ever built. It contained
much room, many comforts, and could sail for several
thousand miles without descending, except in case of
accident. It was a combined dirigible balloon and aeroplane,
and could be used as either, the necessary gas being made on
board. It was large enough to enable the air glider to be
taken on it in sections.
It was about a week after their first meeting with him,
that Ivan Petrofsky paid a visit to the Swift home. He was
warmly welcomed by the aged inventor and Mr. Damon, and,
closeted in the library of the house, he proceeded to go
more into details of his own and his brother's exile to
Siberia, and to tell about the supposed location of the lost
"I don't believe we can start for several weeks yet," said
Tom, after some discussion. "It will take me that long to
make the glider."
"And I, too, need a little time," said the Russian. "I
will write to some friends in St. Petersburg and perhaps
they can get some information for us, as to where my brother
"That will be good," declared Mr. Damon. "Bless my icicle!
But the more I think of this trip the better I like it!"
It was arranged that the Russian should call again soon,
when the plans would be nearer in shape, and in the
meanwhile he must learn all he could from revolutionary
friends in Siberia.
It was a week after this, during which Tom, Ned and the
others had been very busy, that Tom decided to take a trip
to see their Russian friend. They had not heard from him
since his visit, and Tom wanted to learn something about the
strength of the Siberian winds.
He and Ned went in one of the small airships and soon they
were hovering over the grounds surrounding the lonely house
where Ivan Petrofsky lived.
"He doesn't seem to be at home," remarked Ned, as they
descended and approached the dwelling.
"No, and it looks quite deserted," agreed the young
inventor. "Say, all the doors are open, too! He shouldn't
go away and leave his house open like that--with the
valuable platinum there."
"Maybe he's asleep," suggested Ned.
They knocked on the opened door, but there was no answer.
Then they went inside. To their surprise the house was in
confusion. Furniture was overturned, tables and chairs were
broken, and papers were scattered about the room.
"There's been a fight here!" cried Tom.
"That's right," agreed Ned. "Maybe he's been hurt--maybe
burglars came for the platinum!"
"Come on!" cried Tom, making a dash for the stairs. "We'll
see if he's here."
The house was small, and it took but a moment to show that
Mr. Petrofsky was not there. Upstairs, as below, was the
same confusion--the overturned furniture and the papers
Tom stooped and picked up a scrap that looked like a piece
torn from a letter. On top was a seal--the black seal of
Russia--the imperial arms of the Czar!
"Look!" cried Tom, holding out the paper.
"What is it." asked Ned.
"The hand of the Czar!" answered his chum. "It has reached
out from Russia, and taken Mr. Petrofsky away!"
For a moment Ned could scarcely understand what Tom meant.
It scarcely seemed possible that such a thing could happen.
That some one in far-off Russia--be it the Czar or one of
the secret police--could operate from such a distance,
seeking out a man in an obscure house in a little American
village, and snatching him away.
"It isn't possible!" declared Ned breathlessly.
"What difference does that make?" asked Tom. "The thing
has happened, and you can't get out of it. Look at all the
evidence--there's been a fight, that's sure, and Mr.
Petrofsky is gone."
"But maybe he went away of his own accord," insisted Ned,
who was sometimes hard to convince.
"Nonsense! If a man went away of his own accord would he
smash up his furniture, leave his papers scattered all about
and go off leaving the doors and windows open for any one to
walk in? I guess not."
"Well, maybe you're right. But think of it! This isn't
"No, but he's a Russian subject, and, by his own
confession an escaped exile. If he was arrested in the usual
way he could be taken back, and our government couldn't
interfere. He's been taken back all right. Poor man! Think
of being doomed to those sulphur mines again, and as he
escaped they'll probably make it all the harder for him!"
"But I thought our government wouldn't help other nations
to get back prisoners convicted of political crimes,
suggested Ned. "That's all Mr. Petrofsky was guilty of--
politics, trying to help the poor in his own country. It's a
shame if our government stands for anything like that!"
"That's just the point!" exclaimed Tom. Probably the
spies, secret police, or whoever the Russian agents were,
didn't ask any help from our government. If they did there
might be a chance for him. But likely they worked in secret.
They came here, sneaked in on him, and took him away before
he could get help. Jove! If he could only have gotten word
to me I'd have come in the airship, and then there'd be a
different ending to this."
"I guess you're right, Tom. Well, that ends it I suppose."
"Our trip to the platinum mine."
"Not a bit of it. I'm going to have a hunt for it."
"But how can you when Mr. Petrofsky can't go along to show
us the way? Besides, we wanted to help rescue his brother,
and now we can't."
"Well, I'm going to make a big try," declared the young
inventor firmly. "And the first thing I'm going to do is to
get our friend out of the clutches of the Russian police."
"You are? How?"
"I'm going to make a search for him. Look here, Ned, he
must have been taken away some time to-day--perhaps only a
few hours ago--and they can't have gone far with him."
"How do you make that out?" Ned wanted to know.
"Well, I guess I'm detective enough for that," and Tom
smiled. "Look here, the doors and windows are open. Now it
rained last night, and there was quite a wind. If the
windows had been open in the storm there'd be some traces of
moisture in the rooms. But there isn't a drop. Consequently
the windows have been opened since last night."
"Say, that's so!" cried Ned admiringly.
"But that's not all," went on Tom. "Here's a bottle of
milk on the table, and it's fresh," which he proved by
tasting it. "Now that was left by the milkman either late
last night or early this morning. I don't believe it's over
twelve hours old."
"Well, what does this mean?" asked Ned, who couldn't quite
follow Tom's line of reasoning.
"To my mind it means that the spies were here no later
than this morning. Look at the table upset, the dishes on
the floor. Here's one with oatmeal in it, and you know how
hard and firm cooked oatmeal gets after it stands a bit.
This is quite fresh, and soft, and--"
"And that means--" interrupted Ned, who was in turn
interrupted by Tom, who exclaimed:
"It means that Mr. Petrofsky was at breakfast when they
burst in on him, and took him away. They had hard work
overpowering him, I'll wager, for he could put up a pretty
good fight. And the broken furniture is evidence of that.
Then the spies, after tying him up, or putting him in a
carriage, searched the house for incriminating papers.
That's as plain as the nose on your face. Then the police
agents, or whoever they were, skipped out in a hurry, not
taking the trouble to close the windows and doors."
"I believe it did happen that way," agreed Ned, who
clearly saw what Tom meant. "But what can we do? How can we
"By getting on the trail," answered his chum quickly.
"There may be more clews in the house, and I'm sure there'll
be some out of doors, for they must have left footprints or
the marks of carriage wheels. We'll take a look, and then
we'll get right on the search. I'm not going to let them
take Mr. Petrofsky to Russia if I can help it. I want to get
after that platinum, and he's the only one who can pilot us
anywhere near the place; and besides, there's his brother
we've got to rescue. We'll make a search for the exile."
"I'm with you!" cried Ned. "Jove! Wouldn't it be great if
we could rescue him? They can't have gotten very far with
"I'm afraid they have quite a start on us admitted Tom
with a dubious shake of his head, "but as long as they're in
the United States we have a chance. If ever they get him on
Russian soil it's all up with him."
"Come on then!" cried Ned. "Let's get busy. What's the
first thing to do?"
"Look for clews," replied Tom. "We'll begin at the top of
the house and work down. It's lucky we came when we did, for
every minute counts."
Then the two plucky lads began their search for the
kidnapped Russian exile. Had those who took him away seen
the mere youths who thus devoted themselves to the task,
they might have laughed in contempt, but those who know Tom
Swift and his sturdy chum, know that two more resourceful
and brave lads would be hard to find.
A CLEW FROM RUSSIA
"Nothing much up here," remarked Tom, when he and Ned had
gone all over the second floor twice. "That scrap of paper,
which put me on to the fact that some one from the Russian
government had been here, is about all. They must have taken
all the documents Mr. Petrofsky had."
"Maybe he didn't have any," suggested Ned.
"If he was wise he'd get rid of them when he knew he was
being shadowed, as he told us. Perhaps that was why they
broke up the furniture, searching for hidden papers, or they
may have done it out of spite because they didn't find
anything. But we might as well go downstairs and look
But the first floor was equally unproductive of clews,
save those already noted, which showed, at least so Tom
believed, that Mr. Petrofsky had been surprised and
overpowered while at breakfast.
"Now for outside!" cried the young inventor. "We'll see if
we can figure out how they got him away."
There were plenty of marks in the soft ground and turf,
which was still damp from the night's rain, though it was
now afternoon. Unfortunately, however, in approaching the
house after leaving the aeroplane, Ned and Tom had not
thought to exercise caution, and, not suspecting anything
wrong, they had stepped on a number of footprints left by
But for all that, they saw enough to convince them that
several men had been at the lonely house, for there were
many marks of shoes. It was out of the question, however, to
tell which were those of Mr. Petrofsky and which those of
"They might have carried him out to a carriage they had in
waiting," suggested Ned. "Let's go out to the front gate and
look in the road. They hardly would bring the carriage up to
"Good idea," commented Tom, and they hurried to the main
thoroughfare that passed the Russian's house.
"Here they are!" cried Ned, Who was in the lead. "There's
been a carriage here as sure as you're a foot high. and it's
a rubber-tired one too."
"GOOD!" cried Tom admiringly. "You're coming right along
in your detective training. How do you make that out?"
"See here, where a piece of rubber has been broken or cut
out of the tire. It makes a peculiar mark in the dirt every
time the wheel goes around."
"That's right, and it will be a good thing to trace the
carriage by. Come on, we'll keep right after it."
"Hold on a bit," suggested Ned, who, though not so quick
as Tom Swift, frequently produced good results by his very
slowness. "Are you going off and leave the airship here for
some one to walk off with?"
"Guess they wouldn't take it far," replied the young
inventor, "but I'd better make it safe. I'll disconnect it
so they can't start it, though if Andy Foger happens to come
along he might slash the planes just out of spite. But I
guess he won't show up."
Tom took a connecting pin out of the electrical apparatus,
making it impossible to start the aeroplane, and then,
wheeling it out of sight behind a small barn, he and Ned
went back to the carriage marks in the road.
"Hurry!" urged Tom, as he started off in the direction of
the village of Hurdtown, near where the cottage stood. "We
will ask people living along the highway if they've seen a
"But what makes you think they went off that way?" asked
Ned. "I should think they'd head away from the village, so
as not to be seen."
"No, I don't agree with you. But wait, we'll look at the
marks. Maybe that will help us."
Peering carefully at the marks of horses' hoofs and the
wheel impressions, Tom uttered a cry of discovery.
"I have it!" he declared. "The carriage came from the
village, and kept right on the other way. You're right, Ned.
They didn't go back to town.
"Are you sure?"
"Of course. You can see for yourself; if the carriage had
turned around the track would show, but it doesn't and, even
if they turned on the grass, there'd be two lines of marks--
one coming out here and one returning. As it is there is
only a single set--just as if the carriage drove up here,
took on its load, and continued on. This way, Ned."
They hurried down the road, and soon came to a cluster of
farm houses. Inquiries there, however, failed to bring
anything to light, for either the occupants of the house had
failed to notice passing vehicles, or there had been so many
that any particular carriage was not recalled. And there
were now so many impressions in the soft dirt of the
highway--so many wheel tracks and hoof imprints--that it was
impossible to pick out those of the carriage with the cut
rubber tire. "Well, I guess it isn't of much use to go on
any farther," spoke Ned, when they had traveled several
miles and had learned nothing.
"We'll try one more house, and then go back," agreed Tom.
"We'll tell dad about what's happened, and see what he
"Carriage?" repeated an old farmer to whom they next put
the question. "Wa'al, now, come t' think of it, I did see
one drivin' along here early this morning. It had rubber
tires on too, for I recollect remarkin' t' myself that it
didn't make much noise. Had t' talk t' myself," he added in
explanation," 'cause nobody else in the family was up,
'ceptin' th' dog."
"Did the carriage have some Russians in it?" asked Tom
eagerly, "and was one a big bearded man?"
"Wa'al, now you've got me," admitted the farmer frankly.
"It was quite early you see, and I didn't take no particular
notice. I got up early t' do my milkin' 'cause I have t'
take it t' th' cheese factory. That's th' reason nobody was
up but me. But I see this carriage comin' down th' road, and
thinks I t' myself it was pretty middlin' early fer anybody
t' be takin' a pleasure ride. I 'lowed it were a pleasure
ride, 'cause it were one of them hacks that folks don't
usually use 'ceptin' fer a weddin', or a funeral, an' it
wa'n't no funeral."
"Then you can't tell us anything more except that it
passed?" asked Ned.
"No, I couldn't see inside, 'cause it was rather dark at
that hour, and then, too, I noticed that they had th' window
"That's suspicious!" exclaimed Tom. "I believe they are
the fellows we re after," and, without giving any
particulars he said that they were looking for a friend who
might have been taken away against his will.
"Could you tell where they were going?" asked
Tom, scarcely hoping to get an affirmative answer.
"Wa'al, th' man on th' seat pulled up when he see me,"
spoke the farmer with exasperating slowness, "an' asked me
how far it was t' th' Waterville station, an' I told him."
"Why didn't you say so at first?" asked Tom quickly. "Why
didn't you tell us they were heading for the railroad?"
"You didn't ask me," replied the farmer. "What difference
does it make."
"Every minute counts!" exclaimed the young inventor. "We
want to keep right after those fellows. Maybe the agent can
tell us where they bought tickets to, and we can trace them
"Shouldn't wonder," commented the farmer. There ain't many
trains out from Waterville at that time of day, an' mighty
few passengers. Shouldn't wonder but Jake Applesaner could
put ye on th' trail."
"Much obliged," called Tom. "Come on, Ned," and he started
back in the direction of the house where the kidnapping had
"That ain't th' way t' 'vaterville!" the farmer shouted
"I know it, we're going to get our airship," answered Tom,
and then he heard the farmer mutter.
"Plumb crazy! That's what they be! Plumb crazy! Going
after their airship! Shouldn't wonder but they was escaped
lunatics, and the other fellers was keepers after 'em. Hu!
Wa'al, I've got my work to do. 'Tain't none of my affair."
"Let him think what he likes," commented Ned as he and his
chum hurried on. "We're on the trail all right."
If Jake Applesauer, the agent at the Waterville station,
was surprised at seeing two youths drop down out of an
aeroplane, and begin questioning him about some suspicious
strangers that had taken the morning train, he did not show
it. Jake prided himself on not being surprised at anything,
except once when he took a counterfeit dollar in return for
a ticket, and had to make it good to the company.
But, to the despair of Tom and Ned, he could not help them
much. He had seen the party, of course. They had driven up
in the hack, and one of the men seemed to be sick, or hurt,
for his head was done up in bandages, and the others had to
half carry him on the train.
"That was Mr. Petrofsky all right," declared Ned.
"Sure," assented Tom. "They must have hurt and drugged
him. But you can't tell us for what station they bought
tickets, Mr. Applesauer?"
"No, for they didn't buy any. They must have had 'em, or
else they paid on the train. One man drove off in the coach,
and that's all I know."
As Tom and Ned started back to Shopton in the aeroplane
they discussed what could be done next. A hard task lay
before them, and they realized that.
"They could have gotten off at any station between here
and New York, or even changed to another railroad at the
junction," spoke Tom. "It's going to be a hard job."
"Guess we'll have to get some regular detectives on it,"
"And that's what I'll do," declared the young inventor.
"They may be able to locate Mr. Petrofsky before those spies
take him out of this country. If they don't--it will be too
late. I'm going to talk to dad about it, and if he agrees
I'll hire the best private detectives."
Mr. Swift gave his consent when Tom had told the story,
and, a day later, one of the best detectives of a well known
agency called on Tom in Shopton and assumed charge of the
The early reports from the detective were quite
reassuring. He got on the trail of the men who had taken Mr.
Petrofsky away, and confirmed the suspicion that they were
agents of the Russian police. He trailed them as far as New
York, and there the clews came to an end.
"Whether they are in the big city, which might easily be,
or in some of the nearby towns, will take some time to
learn," the detective wrote, and Tom wired back telling him
to keep on searching.
But, as several weeks went by, and no word came, even Tom
began to give up hope, though he did not stop work on the
air glider, which was nearing completion. And then, most
unexpectedly a clew came--a clew from far-off Russia.
Tom got a letter one day--a letter in a strange hand, the
stamp and postmark showing that it had come from the land of
"What do you suppose it contains?" asked Ned, who was with
his chum when the communication was received.
"Haven't the least idea; but I'll soon find out."
"Maybe it's from the Russian police, telling you to keep
away from Siberia."
"Maybe," answered Tom absently, for he was reading the
missive. "I say!" he suddenly cried. "This is great! A clew
at last, and from St. Petersburg! Listen to this, Ned!
"This letter is from the head of one of the secret
societies over there, a society that works against the
government. It says that Mr. Petrofsky is being detained a
prisoner in a lonely hut on the Atlantic sea coast, not far
from New York--Sandy Hook the letter says--and here are the
very directions how to get there!"
"No!" cried Ned, in disbelief. "How in the world could
anybody in Russia know that."
"It tells here," said Tom. "It's all explained. As soon as
the secret police got Mr. Petrofsky they communicated with
the head officials in St. Petersburg. You know nearly
everyone is a spy over there, and the letter says that Mr.
Petrofsky's friends there soon heard the news, and even about
the exact place where he is being held."
"What are they holding him for?" asked Ned.
"That's explained, too. It seems they can't legally take
him back until certain papers are received from his former
prison in Siberia, and those are now on the way. His friends
write to me to hasten and rescue him."
"But how did they ever get your address?"
"That's easy, though you wouldn't think so. It seems, so
the letter explains, that as soon as Mr. Petrofsky got
acquainted with us he wrote to friends in St. Petersburg,
giving my address, and telling them, in case anything ever
happened to him, to notify us. You see he suspected that
something might, after he found he was being shadowed that
"And it all worked out. As soon as his friends heard that
he was caught, and learned where he was being held, they
wrote to me. Hurrah, Ned! A clew at last! Now to wire the
detective--no, hold on, we'll go there and rescue him
ourselves! We'll go in the airship, and pick up Detective
Trivett in New York."
"That's the stuff! I'm with you!"
"Bless my suspender buttons! So am I, whatever it is!"
cried Mr. Damon, entering the room at that moment.
RESCUING MR. PETROFSKY
"We ought to be somewhere near the place now, Tom."
"I think we are, Ned. But you know I'm not going too close
in this airship."
"Bless my silk hat!" exclaimed Mr. Damon. "I hope we don't
have to walk very far in such a deserted country as this,
"We'll have to walk a little way, Mr. Damon," replied the
young inventor. "If I go too close to the hut they'll see
the airship, and as those spies probably know that Mr.
Petrofsky has been dealing with me, They'd smell a rat at
once, and run away, taking him with them, and we'd have all
our work to do over again."
"That's right," agreed Detective Trivett, who was one of
the four in the airship that was now hovering over the
Atlantic coast, about ten miles below the summer resorts of
which Asbury Park was one.
It was only a few hours after Tom had received the letter
from Russia informing him of the whereabouts of the
kidnapped Russian, and he had acted at once.
His father sanctioned the plan of going to the rescue in
one of Tom's several airships and, Mr. Damon, having been on
hand, at once agreed to go. Of course Ned went along, and
they had picked up the private detective in New York, where
he was vainly seeking a clew to the whereabouts of Mr.
Now the young inventor and his friends were hovering over
the sandy stretch of coast that extends from Sandy Hook down
the Atlantic seaboard. They were looking for a small fishing
hamlet on the outskirts of which, so the Russian letter
stated, was situated the lonely hut in which Mr. Petrofsky
was held a prisoner.
"Do you think you can pick it out from a distance, Tom?"
asked Mr. Damon, as the airship floated slowly along. It was
not the big one they intended taking on their trip to
Siberia, but it was sufficiently large to accommodate the
four and leave room for Mr. Petrofsky, should they succeed
in rescuing him.
"I think so," answered the young inventor.
In the letter from Russia a comparatively accurate
description of the prisoner's hut had been given, and also
some details about his guards. For there is little goes on
in political circles in the realm of the Czar that is not
known either to the spies of the government or those of the
opposition, and the latter had furnished Tom with reliable
"That looks like the place," said Tom at length, when,
after peering steadily through a powerful telescope, during
which time Ned steered the ship, the young inventor "picked
up" a fishing settlement. "There is the big fish house,
spoken of in the letter," he went on, "and the Russians know
a lot about fish. That house makes a good landmark. We'll go
down now, before they have a chance to see us."
The others thought this a good idea, and a little later
the airship sank to the ground amid a lonely stretch of sand
dunes, about two miles from the hamlet on the outskirts of
which the prison hut was said to be located.
"Now," said Tom, "we've got to decide on a plan of
Campaign. It won't do for all of us to go to the hut and
make the rescue. Some one has got to stay with the airship,
to be ready to start it off as soon as we come back with Mr.
Petrofsky--if we do come.
"Then there's no use in me staying here," spoke Detective
Trivett. "I don't know enough even to turn on the gasolene."
"No, it's got to be Ned or me," said the young inventor.
"I'll stay," volunteered Ned quickly, for though he would
very much have liked to be in at the rescue, he realized
that his place was in the airship, as Mr. Damon was not
sufficiently familiar with the machinery to operate it.
Accordingly, after looking to everything to see that it
was in working order, Tom led the advance. It was just
getting dusk, and they figured on getting to the hut after
"Have everything ready for a quick start," Tom said to
Ned, "for we may come back running."
"I will," was the prompt answer, and then, getting their
bearings, the little party set off.
They had to travel over a stretch of sandy waste that ran
along the beach. Back in shore were a few scattered
cottages, and not yet opened for the summer, and on the
ocean side was the pounding surf. The hut, as Tom recalled
the directions, lay just beyond a group of stunted hemlock
trees that set a little way hack from the ocean, on a bluff
overlooking the sea. It was not near any other building.
Slowly, and avoiding going any nearer the other houses
than they could help, the little party made its way. They
had to depend on their own judgement now, for the minor
details of the location of the hut could not be given in the
letter from Russia. In fact the spies themselves, in
writing to their head officers about the matter, had not
described the location in detail.
"That looks like it over there," said Tom at last, when
they had gone about a mile and a half, and saw a lonely hut
with a light burning in it.
Cautiously they approached and, as they drew nearer, they
saw that the light came through the window of a small hut.
"Looks like the place," commented the detective.
"We'll have a look," remarked Tom.
He crept up so he could glance in the window, and no
sooner had he peered in, than he motioned for the others to
Looking under a partly-drawn curtain, Mr. Damon and Mr.
Trivett saw the Russian whom they sought. He was seated at a
table, his head bowed on his hands, and in the room were
three men. A rifle stood in one corner, near one of the
"They're taking no chances," whispered Mr. Damon. "What
shall we do, Tom?"
"It's three to three," replied the young inventor. "But if
we can get him away without a fight, so much the better. I
think I have it. I'll go up to the door, knock and make
quite a racket, and demand admittance in the name of the
Czar. That will startle them, and they may all three rush to
answer. Mr. Damon, you and the detective will stay by the
window. As soon as you see the men rush for the door, smash
in the window with a piece of driftwood and call to Mr.
Petrofsky to jump out that way. Then you can run with him
toward the airship, and I'll follow. It may work."
"I don't see why it wouldn't," declared the detective. "Go
ahead, Tom. We're ready."
Looking in once more, to make sure that the guards were
not aware of the presence of the rescuing party, Tom went to
the front door of the hut. It was a small building,
evidently one used by fishermen.
Tom knocked loudly on the portal, at the same time crying
out in a voice that he strove to make as deep and menacing
"Open! Open in the name of the Czar!"
Looking through the window, ready to act on the instant,
Mr. Damon and the detective saw the three guards spring to
their feet. One remained near Mr. Petrofsky, who also leaped
"Now!" called the detective to his companion. "Smash the
The next instant a big piece of driftwood crashed through
the casement, just as the two men were hurrying to the front
door to answer Tom's summons.
"Mr. Petrofsky! This way!" yelled Mr. Damon, sticking his
head in through the broken sash. "Come out! We've come to
save you! Bless my putty blower, but this is great! Come
For a moment the exile stared at the head thrust through
the broken window, and he listened to Tom's emphatic knocks
and demands. Then with a cry of delight the Russian sprang
for the open casement, while the guard that had remained
near him made a leap to catch him, crying out:
"Betrayed! Betrayed! It's the Nihilists! Look out, comrades!"
THE AIR GLIDER
Mr. Damon continued to hammer away at the window sash with
the piece of driftwood. There were splinters of the frame
and jagged pieces of glass sticking out, making it dangerous
for the exile to slip through.
"Come on! Come on!" the eccentric man continued to call.
"Bless my safety valve! We'll save you! Come on!"
Mr. Petrofsky was leaping across the room, just ahead of
the one guard. The other two were at the open door now,
through which Tom could be seen. Then the spies, realizing
in an instant that they had been deceived, made a dash after
their comrade, who had his hand on the tails of the exile's
"Break away! Break loose!" cried Mr. Damon, who, by this
time had cleared the window so a person could get through.
"Don't let them hold you!"
"I don't intend to!" retorted Mr. Petrofsky, and he
swerved suddenly, tearing his coat, from the grasp of the
In another instant the exile was at the casement, and was
being helped through by Mr. Damon, and there was need of it,
for the three guards were there now, doing their best to
keep their prisoner.
"Pull away! Pull away!" cried Mr. Damon.
"We'll help you!" shouted Tom, who, now that his trick had
worked, had sped around to the other side of the hut.
"Don't be afraid, we're with you!" exclaimed the
detective, who was with the young inventor.
"Grab him! Keep him! Hold him!" fairly screamed the
rearmost of the three guards. "It is a plot of the Nihilists
to rescue him. Shoot him, comrades. He must not get away!"
"Don't you try any of your shooting games, or I'll take a
hand in it!" shouted the detective, and, at the same moment
he drew his revolver and fired harmlessly in the air.
"A bomb! A bomb!", yelled the guards in terror.
"Not yet, but there may be!" murmured Tom. The firing of
the shot produced a good effect, for the three men who were
trying to detain Ivan Petrofsky at once fell back from the
window and gave him just the chance needed. He scrambled
through, with the aid of Mr. Damon, and before the guards
could again spring at him, which they did when the echoes of
the shot had died away. They had realized, too late, that it
was not a bomb, and that there was no immediate danger for
"Come on!" cried Tom. "Make for the airship! We've got to
get the start of them!"
Leading the way, he sprinted toward the road that led to
the place where the airship awaited them. He was followed by
Mr. Damon and the detective, who had Mr. Petrofsky between
"Are you all right?" Tom called back to the exile. "Are
you hurt? Can you run?"
"I'm all right," was the reassuring answer. "Go ahead; But
they'll be right after us."
"Maybe they'll stop when they see this," remarked the
detective significantly, and he held his revolver so that
the rays of the newly-risen moon glinted on it.
"Here they come!" cried Tom a moment later, as three
figures, one after the other, came around the corner of the
house. They had not taken the shorter route through the
window, as had Mr. Petrofsky, and this gained a little time
for our friends.
"Stop! Hold on!" cried one of the guards in fairly good
English. "That is our prisoner."
"Not any more!" the young inventor yelled back. "He's ours
"Look out! They're going to shoot!" cried Mr. Damon.
"Bless my gunpowder! can't you stop them some way or other,
"The only way is by firing first," answered Mr. Trivett,
"and I don't want to hurt them. Guess I'll fire in the air
He did, and the guards halted. They seemed to be holding a
consultation, as Tom learned by glancing hastily back, and
he caught the glisten of some weapon. But if the three men
had any notion of firing they gave it up, and once more came
on running. Doubtless they had orders to get their prisoner
back to Russia alive, and did not want to take any chances
of hitting him.
"Leg it!" cried Tom. "Leg it!"
He was well ahead, and wanted the others to catch up to
him, but none of the men was a good runner, and Mr.
Petrofsky, by reason of being rather heavily built, was
worse than the other two, so they had to accommodate their
pace to his.
"I wonder if we can make it," mused Tom, as he realized
that the airship was a good distance off yet. the guards,
though quite a way in the rear now were coming on fast.
"It's going to be a close race," thought the young inventor.
"I wish we'd brought the airship a little nearer."
It was indeed a race now, for the guards, seeming to know
that they would not be shot at, were coming on more
confidently, and were rap-idly lessening the distance that
separated them from their recent prisoner.
"We've got to go faster!" cried Tom.
"Bless my shoe leather!" yelled Mr. Damon. "I can't go any
Still he did make the attempt, and so did the exile and
the detective. Little was said now, for each of the parties
was running a dogged race, and in silence. They had gone
possibly half a mile, and the first advantage of Tom and his
friends was rapidly being lost, when suddenly there sounded
in the air above a curious throbbing noise.
"Bless my gasolene! What's that?" cried Mr. Damon.
"The airship! It's the airship!" yelled Tom, as he saw a
great dark shape slowly approaching. "Ned is bringing her to
"Good!" cried the detective. "We need it I'm about
"This way, Ned! This way!" cried Tom, and, an instant
later, they were in the midst of a brilliant glow, for Ned
had turned the current into the great searchlight on the bow
of the air craft, and the beams were focused on our friends.
Ned could now see the refugees, and in a moment he sent the
graceful craft down, bringing it to a halt on the ground
"In with you!" cried the lad. "She's all ready to start up
"Come on!" yelled Tom to the others. "We're all right now,
if you hustle!"
"Bless my pin cushion!" gasped Mr. Damon, making a final
The three guards had halted in confusion on seeing the
big, black bulk of the airship, and when they noted the
gleaming of the searchlight they must have realized that
their chances were gone. They made a rush, however, but it
was too late. Over the side of the craft scrambled Tom, Mr.
Damon, the detective and Ivan Petrofsky, and an instant
later Ned had sent it aloft. The race was over, and the
young inventor and his friends had won.
"You're the stuff!" cried Tom to Ned, as he went with his
chum to the pilot house to direct the progress of the
airship. "It's lucky you came for us. We never could have
made the distance. We left the ship too far off."
"That's what I thought after you'd gone," replied his
chum. "So I decided to come and meet you. I had to go slowly
so as not to pass you in the darkness."
They were speeding off now, and Ned, turning the beams of
the great searchlight below them, picked up the three guards
who were gazing helplessly aloft after their fast
"You're having your first ride in an airship, Mr.
Petrofsky," remarked Tom, when they had gone on for some
little distance. "How do you like it?"
"I'm so excited I hardly know, but it's quite a sensation.
But how in the world did you ever find me to rescue me?"
Then they told the story of their search, and the
unexpected clew from Russia. In turn the exile told how he
had been attacked at the breakfast table one morning by the
three spies--the very men who had been shadowing him--and
taken away secretly, being drugged to prevent his calling
for help. He had been kept a close prisoner in the lonely
hut, and each day he had expected to be taken back to serve
out his sentence in Siberia.
"Another day would have been too late," he told Tom, when
he had thanked the young inventor over and over again, "for
the papers would have arrived, and the last obstacle to
taking me back to Russia would have been removed. They
dared not take me out of the United States without official
documents, and they would have been forged ones, for they
intended trumping up a criminal charge against me, the
political one not being strong enough to allow them to
"Well I'm glad we got you," said Tom heartily. "We will
soon be ready to start for Siberia."
"In this kind of a craft?"
"Yes, only much larger. You'll like it. I only hope my
air glider works."
By putting on speed, Tom was able to reach Shopton before
midnight, and there was quite an informal celebration in the
Swift homestead over the rescue of the exile. The detective,
for whom there was no further need, was paid off, and Mr.
Petrofsky was made a member of the household.
"You'd better stay here until we are ready to start," Tom
said, "and then we can keep an eye on you. We need you to
show us as nearly as possible where the platinum field is."
"All right," agreed the Russian with a laugh. "I'm sure
I'll do all I can for you, and you are certainly treating me
very nicely after what I suffered from my captors."
Tom resumed work on his air glider the next day, and he
had an additional helper, for Mr. Petrofsky proved to be a
In brief, the air glider was like an aeroplane save that
it had no motor. It was raised by a strong wind blowing
against transverse planes, and once aloft was held there by
the force of the air currents, just like a box kite is kept
up. To make it progress either with or against the wind,
there were horizontal and vertical rudders, and sliding
weights, by which the equilibrium could be shifted so as to
raise or lower it. While it could not exactly move directly
against the wind it could progress in a direction contrary
to which the gale was blowing, somewhat as a sailing ship
And, as has been explained, the harder the wind blew the
better the air glider worked. In fact unless there was a
strong gale it would not go up.
"But it will be just what is needed out there in that part
of Siberia," declared the exile, "for there the wind is
never quiet. Often it blows a regular hurricane."
"That's what we want!" cried Tom. He had made several
models of the air glider, changing them as he found out his
errors, and at last he had hit on the right shape and size.
Midway of the big glider, on which work was now well
started, there was to be an enclosed car for the carrying of
passengers, their food and supplies. Tom figured on carrying
five or six.
For several weeks the work on the air glider progressed
rapidly, and it was nearing completion. Meanwhile nothing
more had been heard or seen of the Russian spies.
"Well," announced Tom one night, after a day's hard work,
"we'll be ready for a trial now, just as soon as there comes
a good wind."
"Is it all finished?" asked Ned.
"No, but enough for a trial spin. What I want is a big wind now."
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