Tom Swift And His Air Glider
Part 2 out of 4
IN A GREAT GALE
There was a humming in the air. The telegraph wires that
ran along on high poles past the house of Tom Swift sung a
song like that of an Aeolian harp. The very house seemed to tremble.
"Jove! This is a wind!" cried Tom as he awakened on a
morning a few days after his air glider was nearly
completed. "I never saw it so strong. This ought to be just
what I want I must telephone to Mr. Damon and to Ned."
He hustled into his clothes, pausing now and then to look
out of his window and note the effects of the gale. It was a
tremendous wind, as was evidenced by the limbs of several
trees being broken off, while in some cases frail trees
themselves had been snapped in twain.
"Coffee ready, Mrs. Baggert?" asked our hero as he went
downstairs. "I haven't got time to eat much though."
In spite of his haste Tom ate a good breakfast and then,
having telephoned to his two friends, and receiving their
promises to come right over, our hero went out to make a few
adjustments to his air glider, to get it in shape for the
He was a little worried lest the wind die out, but when he
got outside he noted with satisfaction that the gale was
stronger than at first. In fact it did considerable damage
in Shopton, as Tom learned later.
It certainly was a strong wind. An ordinary aeroplane
never could have sailed in it, and Tom was doubtful of the
ability of even his big airship to navigate in it. But he
was not going to try that.
"And maybe my air glider won't work," he remarked to
himself as he was on his way to the shed where it had been
constructed. "The models went up all right, but maybe the
big one isn't proportioned right. However, I'll soon see."
He was busy adjusting the balancing weights when Ned
Newton came in.
"Great Scott!" exclaimed the lad, as he labored to close
the shed door, "this is a blow all right, Tom! Do you think
it's safe to go up?"
"I can't go up without a gale, Ned."
"Well, I'd think twice about it myself."
"Why, I counted on you going up with me."
"Burr-r-r-r!" and Ned pretended to shiver. "I haven't an
accident insurance policy you know."
"You won't need it, Ned. If we get up at all we'll be all
right. Catch hold there, and shift that rear weight a little
forward on the rod. I expect Mr. Damon soon."
The eccentric man came in a little later, just as Tom and
Ned had finished adjusting the mechanism.
"Bless my socks!" cried Mr. Damon. "Do you really mean to
go up to-day, Tom?"
"I sure do! Why, aren't you going with me?" and Tom winked
"Bless my--" began Mr. Damon, and then, evidently
realizing that he was being tested he exclaimed: "Well, I
will go, Tom! If the air glider is any good it ought to hold
me. I will go up."
"Now, Ned, how about you?" asked the young inventor.
"Well, I guess it's up to me to come along. but I sure do
wish it was over with," and Ned glanced out of the window to
see if the gale was dying out. But the wind was as high as
It was hard work getting the air glider out of the shed,
and in position on top of a hill, about a quarter of a mile
away, for Tom intended "taking off" from the mound, as he
could not get a running start without a motor. The wind,
however, he hoped, would raise him and the strange craft.
In order to get it over the ground without having it
capsize, or elevate before they were ready for it, drag
ropes, attached to bags of sand were used, and once these
were attached the four found that they could not wheel the
air glider along on its bicycle wheels.
"We'll have to get Eradicate and his mule, I guess," said
Tom, after a vain endeavor to make progress against the
wind. "When it's up in the air it will be all right, but
until then I'll need help to move it. Ned, call Rad, will
The colored man, with Boomerang, his faithful mule, was
soon on hand. The animal was hitched to the glider, and
pulled it toward the hill.
"Now to see what happens," remarked Tom as he wheeled his
latest invention around where the wind would take it as soon
as the restraining ropes were cast off, for it was now held
in place by several heavy cables fastened to stakes driven
in the ground.
Tom gave a last careful look to the weights, planes and
rudders. He glanced at a small anemometer or wind gage, on
the craft, and noted that it registered sixty miles an hour.
"That ought to do," he remarked. "Now who's going up with
me? Will you take a chance, Mr. Petrofsky?"
"I'd rather not--at first."
"Come on then, Ned and Mr. Damon. Mr. Petrofsky and Rad
can cast off the ropes."
The wind, if anything, was stronger than ever. It was a
terrific gale, and just what was needed. But how would the
air glider act? That was what Tom wanted very much to know.
"Cast off!" he cried to the Russian and Eradicate, and
they slipped the ropes.
The next moment, with a rush and whizzing roar, the air
glider shot aloft on the wings of the wind.
"We're certainly going up!" yelled Ned, as he sat beside
Tom in the cabin of the air glider.
"That's right!" agreed the young inventor rather proudly,
as he grasped two levers, one of which steered the craft,
the other being used to shift the weights. "We're going up.
I was pretty sure of that. The next thing is to see if it
will remain stationary in the air, and answer the rudder."
"Bless my top knot!" cried Mr. Damon. "You don't mean to
tell me you can stand still in a gale of wind, Tom Swift."
"That's exactly what I do mean. You can't do it in an
aeroplane, for that depends on motion to keep itself up in
the air. But the glider is different. That's one of its
specialties, remaining still, and that's why it will be
valuable if we ever get to Siberia. We can hover over a
certain spot in a gale of wind, and search about below with
telescopes for a sign of the lost platinum mine.
"How high are you going up?" demanded Ned, for the air
glider was still mounting upward on a slant. If you' ever
scaled a flat piece of tin, or a stone, you'll remember how
it seems to slide up a hill of air, when it was thrown at
the right angle. It was just this way with the air glider--
it was mounting upward on a slant.
"I'm going up a couple of hundred feet at least," answered
Tom, "and higher if the gale-strata is there. I want to give
it a good test while I'm at it."
Ned looked down through a heavy plate of glass in the
floor of the cabin, and could see Mr. Petrofsky and
Eradicate looking up at them.
"Bless my handkerchief!" cried Mr. Damon, when his
attention had been called to this. "It's just like an
"Except that we haven't a bit of machinery on board," said
Tom. "These weights do everything," and he shifted them
forward on the sliding rods, with the effect that the air
glider dipped down with a startling lurch.
"We're falling!" cried Ned.
"Not a bit of it," answered Tom. "I only showed you how it
worked. By sliding the weights back we go up."
He demonstrated this at once, sending his craft sliding up
another hill of air, until it reached an elevation of four
hundred feet, as evidenced by the barograph.
"I guess this is high enough," remarked Tom after a bit.
"Now to see if she'll stand still."
Slowly he moved the weights along, by means of the
compound levers, until the air glider was on an "even keel"
so to speak. It was still moving forward, with the wind now,
for Tom had warped his wing tips.
"The thing to do," said the young inventor, "is to get it
exactly parallel with the wind-strata, so that the gale will
blow through the two sets of planes, just as the wind blows
through a box kite. Only we have no string to hold us from
moving. We have to depend on the equalization of friction on
the surfaces of the wings. I wonder if I can do it."
It was a delicate operation, and Tom had not had much
experience in that sort of thing, for his other airships and
aeroplanes worked on an entirely different principle. But he
moved the weights along, inch by inch, and flexed the tips,
planes and rudders until finally Ned, who was looking down
through the floor window, cried out
"Good!" exclaimed Tom. "Then it's a success."
"And we can go to Siberia?" added Mr. Damon.
"Sure," assented the young inventor. "And if we have luck
we'll rescue Mr. Petrofsky's brother, and get a lot of
platinum that will be more valuable than gold."
It would not be true to say that the air glider was
absolutely stationary. There was a slight forward motion,
due to the fact that it was not yet perfected, and also
because Tom was not expert enough in handling it.
The friction on the plane surfaces was not equalized, and
the gale forced the craft along slightly. But, compared to
the terrific power of the wind, the air glider was
practically at a standstill, and this was remarkable when
one considers the force of the hurricane that was blowing
above below and through it.
For actually that was what the hurricane was doing. It was
as if an immense box kite was suspended in the air, without
a string to hold it from moving, and as though a cabin was
placed amidships to hold human beings.
"This sure is great!" cried Ned. "Have you got her in
"I think so. I'll try and see how she works."
By shifting the weights, changing the balance, and warping
the wings, the young inventor sent the craft higher up, made
it dip down almost to the earth, and then swoop upward like
some great bird. Then he turned it completely about and
though he developed no great speed in this test made it
progress quarteringly against the wind,
"It's almost perfect," declared Tom. "A few touches and
she'll be all right."
"Is it all right?" asked Ivan Petrofsky anxiously, as the
three left the cabin, and Eradicate hitched his mule to the
glider to take it back to the shed.
"I see where it can be improved," he said, as they made
ready to descend. "I'll soon have it in shape."
"Then we can go to Siberia?"
"In less than a month. The big airship needs some repairs,
and then we'll be off."
The Russian said nothing, but he looked his thanks to Tom,
and the manner in which he grasped the hand of our hero
showed his deep feelings.
The glider was given several more trials, and each time it
worked better. Tom decided to change some of the weights,
and he devoted all his time to this alteration, while Ned,
Mr. Damon, and the others labored to get the big airship in
shape for the long trip to the land of the exiles.
So anxious was Tom to get started, that he put in several
nights working on the glider. Ned occasionally came over to
help him, while Mr. Damon was on hand as often as his wife
would allow. Mr. Petrofsky spent his nights writing to
friends in Russia, hoping to get some clew as to the
whereabouts of his brother.
It was on one of these nights, when Tom and Ned were
laboring hard, with Eradicate to help them that an incident
occurred which worried them all not a little. Tom was
adjusting some of the new weights on the sliding rods, and
called to Ned:
"I say, old man, hand me that big monkey wrench, will you.
I can't loosen this nut with the small one. You'll find it
on the bench by that back window."
As Ned went to get the tool he looked from the casement.
He started, stood staring through the glass for a moment
into the outer darkness, and then cried out:
"Tom, we're being watched! There are some spies outside!"
"What?" exclaimed the young inventor "Where are they? Who
"I don't know. Those Russian police, maybe out front, and
maybe we can catch them!"
Grabbing up the big monkey wrench, Ned made a dash for the
large sliding doors, followed by Tom who had an iron bar,
and Eradicate with a small pair of pliers.
"By golly!" cried the colored man, "ef I gits 'em I'll
pinch dere noses off!"
OFF IN THE AIRSHIP
Going from the brightly lighted shop into the darkness of
the night, illuminated as it was only by the stars, neither
Tom, Ned, nor Eradicate, could see anything at first. They
had to stand still for a moment to accustom their eyes to
"Can you see them?" cried Tom to his chum.
"No, but I can hear them! Over this way!" yelled Ned, and
then, being able to dimly make out objects, so he would not
run into them, he started off, followed by the young
Tom could hear several persons running away now, but he
could see no one, and from the sound he judged that the
spies, if such they were, were hurrying across the fields
that surrounded the shop.
It was almost a hopeless task to pursue them, but the two
lads were not the kind that give up. They rushed forward,
hoping to be able to grapple with those who had looked in
the shop window, but it was not to be.
The sound of the retreating footsteps became more and more
faint, until finally they gave no clew to follow.
"Better stop," advised Tom. "No telling where we'll end up
if we keep on running. Besides it might be dangerous."
"Dangerous; how?" panted Ned.
"They might dodge around, and wait for us behind some tree
"An' ef dat Foger feller am around he jest as soon as not
fetch one ob us a whack in de head," commented Eradicate
"Guess you're about right," admitted Ned. "There isn't
much use keeping on. We'll go back."
"What sort of fellows were they?" asked Tom, when, after a
little further search, the hunt was given up. "Could you see
them well, Ned?"
"Not very good. Just as I went to get you that wrench I
noticed two faces looking in the window. I must have taken
them by surprise, for they dodged down in an instant. Then I
yelled, and they ran off."
"Did you see Andy Foger?"
"No, I didn't notice him."
"Was either of them one of the spies who had Mr. Petrofsky
in the hut?"
"I didn't see those fellows very well, you remember, so I
"That's so, but I'll bet that's who they were."
"What do you think they're after, Tom?"
"One of two things. They either want to get our Russian
friend into their clutches again, or they're after me--to
try to stop me from going to Siberia."
"Do you think they'd go to such length as that?"
"I'm almost sure they would. Those Russian police are
wrong, of course, but they think Mr. Petrofsky is an
Anarchist or something like that, and they think they're
justified in doing anything to get him back to the Siberian
mines. And once the Russian government sets out to do a
thing it generally does it--I'll give 'em credit for that."
"But how do you suppose they know you're going to Russia?"
"Say, those fellows have ways of getting information you
and I would never dream of. Why, didn't you read the other
day how some fellow who was supposed to be one of the worst
Anarchists ever, high up in making bombs, plotting, and all
that sort of thing--turned out to be a police spy? They get
their information that way. I shouldn't be surprised but
what some of the very people whom Mr. Petrofsky thinks are
his friends are spies, and they send word to headquarters of
every move he makes."
"Why don't you warn him?"
"He knows it as well as I do. The trouble is you can't
tell who the spies are until it's too late. I'm glad I'm not
mixed up in that sort of thing. If I can get to Siberia,
help Mr. Petrofsky rescue his brother, and get hold of some
of that platinum I'll be satisfied. Then I won't go back to
the land of the Czar, once I get away from there."
"That's right. Well, let's go back and work on the
"And we'll have Eradicate patrolling about the shop to make
sure we're not spied on again."
"By golly! Ef I sees any oh 'em, I suah will pinch 'em!"
cried the colored man, as he clicked the pliers.
But there was no further disturbance that night, and, when
Tom and Ned ceased work, they had made good progress toward
finishing the air glider.
The big airship was almost ready to be given a trial
flight, with her motors tuned up to give more power, and as
soon as the Russian exile had a little more definite
information as to the possible whereabouts of his brother,
they could start.
In the days that followed Tom and his friends worked hard.
The air glider was made as nearly perfect as any machine is,
and in a fairly stiff gale, that blew up about a week later,
Tom did some things in it that made his friends open their
eyes. The young inventor had it under nearly as good control
as he had his dirigible balloons or aeroplanes.
The big airship, too, was made ready for the long voyage,
extra large storage tanks for gasolene being built in, as it
was doubtful if they could get a supply in Siberia without
arranging for it in advance, and this they did not want to
do. Besides there was the long ocean flight to provide for.
"But if worst comes to worst I can burn kerosene in my
motor," Tom explained, for he had perfected an attachment to
this end. "You can get kerosene almost anywhere in Russia."
At last word was received from Russia, from some
Revolutionist friends of the exile, stating that his brother
was supposed to be working in a certain sulphur mine north
of the Iablonnoi mountains, and half way between that range
and the city of Iakutsk.
"But it might be a salt mine, just as well," said Mr.
Petrofsky, when he told the boys the news. "Information
about the poor exiles is hard to get"
"Well, we'll take a chance!" cried Tom determinedly.
The preparations went on, and by strict watchfulness none
of the spies secured admission to the shop where the air
glider was being finished. The big airship was gotten in
shape for the voyage, and then, after a final trial of the
glider, it was taken apart and put aboard the Falcon, ready
for use on the gale-swept plains of Siberia.
The last of the stores, provisions and supplies were put
in the big car of the airship, a route had been carefully
mapped out, and Tom, after saying good-bye to Mary Nestor,
his father, the housekeeper, and Eradicate, took his place
in the pilot house of the airship one pleasant morning at
the beginning of Summer.
"Don't you wish you were going, Rad?" the young inventor
asked, for the colored man had decided to stay at home.
"No indeedy, Massa Tom," was the answer. "Dat's a mighty
cold country in Shebeara, an' I laik warm wedder."
"Well, take care of yourself and Boomerang," answered Tom
with a laugh. Then he pulled the lever that sent a supply of
gas into the big bag, and the ship began to rise.
"I guess we've given those spies the slip," remarked Ned,
as they rose from the ground calling good-byes to the
friends they left behind.
"I hope so," agreed Tom, but could he have seen two men,
of sinister looks, peering at the slowly-moving airship from
the shelter of a glove of trees, not far off, he might have
changed his opinion, and so would Ned.
Then, as the airship gathered momentum, it fairly sprang
into the air, and a moment later, the big propellers began
revolving. They were off on their long voyage to find the
lost platinum mine, and rescue the exile of Siberia.
A STORM AT SEA
Tom had the choice of two routes in making his voyage to
far-off Siberia. He could have crossed the United States,
sailed over the Pacific ocean, and approached the land of
the Czar from the western coast above Manchuria. But he
preferred to take the Atlantic route, crossing Europe, and
so sailing over Russia proper to get to his destination.
There were several reasons for this.
The water voyage was somewhat shorter, and this was an
important consideration when there was no telling when he
might have an accident that would compel him to descend. On
the Atlantic he knew there would be more ships to render
assistance if it was needed, although he hoped he would not
have to ask for it.
"Then, too," he said to Ned, when they were discussing the
matter, "we will have a chance to see some civilized
countries if we cross Europe, and we may land near Paris."
"Paris!" cried Ned. "What for?"
"To renew our supply of gasolene, for one thing," replied
the young inventor. "Not that we will be out when we arrive,
but if we take on more there we may not have to get any in
Russia. Besides, they have a very good quality in France, so
all told, I think the route over Europe to be the best."
Ned agreed with him, and so did Mr. Petrofsky. As for Mr.
Damon, he was so busy getting his sleeping room in order,
and blessing everything he could think of, that he did not
have time to talk much. So the eastern route was decided on,
and as the big airship, carrying our friends, their
supplies, and the wonderful air glider rose higher and
higher, Tom gradually brought her around so that the pointed
nose of the gas bag aimed straight across the Atlantic.
They were over the ocean on the second day out, for Tom
did not push the craft to her limit of speed, now they had
time to consider matters at their leisure, for they had been
rather hurried on leaving.
The machinery was working as nearly to perfection as it
could be brought, and Tom, after finding out that his craft
would answer equally well as a dirigible balloon or an
aeroplane, let it sail along as the latter.
"For," he said, "we have a long trip ahead of us "and we
need to save all the elevating gas we can save. If worst
comes to worst, and we can't navigate as an aeroplane any
more, we can even drift along as a dirigible. But while we
have the gasolene we might as well make speed and be an
The others agreed with him, and so it was arranged. Tom,
when he had seen to it that his craft was working well, let
Ned take charge and devoted himself to seeing that all the
stores and supplies were in order for quick use.
Of course, until they were nearer the land of the Czar,
and that part of Siberia where Mr. Petrofsky's brother was
held as an exile, they could do little save make themselves
as comfortable as possible in the airship. And this was not
hard to do.
Naturally, in a craft that had to carry a heavy load, and
lift itself into the air, as well as propel itself along,
not many things could be taken. Every ounce counted. Still
our friends were not without their comforts. There was a
well stocked kitchen, and Mr. Damon insisted on installing
himself as cook. This had been Eradicate's work but the
eccentric man knew how to do almost everything from making
soup to roasting a chicken, and he liked it. So he was
allowed free run of the galley.
Tom and Ned spent much time in the steering tower or
engine room, for, though all of the machinery was automatic,
there was need of almost constant attention, though there
was an arrangement whereby in case of emergency, the airship
would steer herself in any set direction for a certain
number of hours.
There were ample sleeping quarters for six persons, a
living room and a dining saloon. In short the Falcon was
much like Tom's Red Cloud, only bigger and better. There was
even a phonograph on board so that music, songs, and
recitations could be enjoyed.
"Bless my napkin! but this is great!" exclaimed Mr. Damon,
about noon of the second day, when they had just finished
dinner and looked down through the glass windows in the
bottom of the cabin at the rolling ocean below them. "I
don't believe many persons have such opportunities as we
"I'm sure they do not," added Mr. Petrofsky. "I can hardly
think it true, that I am on my way back to Siberia to rescue
my dear brother."
"And such good weather as we're having," spoke Ned. "I'm
glad we didn't start off in a storm, for I don't exactly
like them when we're over the water."
"We may get one yet," said Tom. "I don't just like the way
the barometer is acting. It's falling pretty fast."
"Bless my mercury tube!" cried Mr. Damon. "I hope we have
no bad luck on this trip."
"Oh, we can't help a storm or two," answered Tom. "I guess
it won't do any harm to prepare for it."
So everything was made snug, and movable articles on the
small exposed deck of the airship were lashed fast. Then, as
night settled down, our friends gathered about in the
cheerful cabin, in the light of the electric lamps, and
talked of what lay before them.
As Mr. Damon could steer as well as Tom or Ned, he shared
in the night watch. But Mr. Petrofsky was not expert enough
to accept this responsibility.
It was when Mr. Damon finished his watch at midnight, and
called Tom, that he remarked.
"Bless my umbrella, Tom. But I don't like the looks of the
"Why, what's it doing?"
"It isn't doing anything, but it's clouding up and the
barometer is going down."
"I was afraid we were in for it," answered the young
inventor. "Well, we'll have to take what comes."
The airship plunged on her way, while her young pilot
looked at the various gages, noting that to hold her way
against the wind that had risen he would have to increase
the speed of the motor.
"I don't like it," murmured Tom, "I don't like it," and
he shook his head dubiously.
With a suddenness that was almost terrifying, the storm
broke over the ocean about three o'clock that morning. There
was a terrific clap of thunder, a flash of lighting, and a
deluge of rain that fairly made the staunch Falcon stagger,
high in the air as she was.
"Come on, Ned!" cried Tom, as he pressed the electric
alarm bell connected with his chum's berth. "I need you, and
Mr. Damon, too."
"What's the matter?" cried Ned, awakened suddenly from a
"We're in a bad storm," answered Tom, "and I'll have to
have help. We need more gas, to try and rise above it."
"Bless my hanging lamp!" cried Mr. Damon, "I hope nothing
And he jumped from his berth as the Falcon plunged and
staggered through the storm that was lashing the ocean below
her into white billow of foam.
For a few moments it seemed as if the Falcon would surely
turn turtle and plunge into the seething ocean. The storm
had burst with such suddenness that Tom, who was piloting
his air craft, was taken unawares. He had not been using
much power or the airship would have been better able to
weather the blast that burst with such fury over her. But as
it was, merely drifting along, she was almost like a great
sheet of paper. Down she was forced, until the high-flying
spray from the waves actually wet the lower part of the car,
and Ned, looking through one of the glass windows, saw, in
the darkness, the phosphorescent gleam of the water so near
"Tom!" he cried in alarm. "We're sinking!"
"Bless my bath sponge! Don't say that!" gasped Mr. Damon.
"That's why I called you," yelled the young inventor.
"We've got to rise above the storm if possible. Go to the
gas machine, Ned, and turn it on full strength. I'll speed
up the motor, and we may be able to cut up that way. But get
the gas on as soon as you can. The bag is only about half
full. Force in all you can!
"Mr. Damon, can you take the wheel? It doesn't make any
difference which way we go as long as you keep her before
the wind, and yank back the elevating rudder as far as
she'll go! We must head up."
"All right, Tom," answered the eccentric man, as he fairly
jumped to take the place of the young inventor at the helm.
"Can I do anything?" asked the Russian, as Tom raced for
the engine room, to speed the motor up to the last notch.
"I guess not. Everything is covered, unless you want to
help Mr. Damon. In this blow it will be hard to work the
"All right," replied Ivan Petrofsky, and then there came
another sickening roll of the airship, that threatened to
turn her completely over.
"Lively!" yelled Tom, clinging to various supports as he
made his way to the engine room. "Lively, all hands, or
we'll be awash in another minute!"
And indeed it seemed that this might be so, for with the
wind forcing her down, and the hungry waves leaping up, as
if to clutch her to themselves, the Falcon was having
anything but an easy time of it.
It was the work of but an instant however, when Tom
reached the engine room, to jerk the accelerator lever
toward him, and the motor responded at once. With a low,
humming whine the wheels and gears redoubled their speed,
and the great propellers beat the air with fiercer strokes.
At the same time Tom heard the hiss of the gas as it
rushed into the envelope from the generating machine, as Ned
opened the release valve.
"Now we ought to go up," the young inventor murmured, as
he anxiously watched the barograph, and noted the position
of the swinging pendulum which told of the roll and dip of
the air craft.
For a moment she hung in the balance, neither the
increased speed of the propellers, nor the force of the gas
having any seeming effect. Mr. Damon and the Russian,
clinging to the rudder levers, to avoid being dashed against
the sides of the pilot house, held them as far back as they
could, to gain the full power of the elevation planes. But
even this seemed to do no good.
The power of the gale was such, that, even with the motor
and gas machine working to their limit, the Falcon only held
her own. She swept along, barely missing the crests of the
"She's got to go up! She's got to go up!" cried Tom
desperately, as if by very will power he could send her
aloft. And then, when there came a lull in the fierce
blowing of the wind, the elevation rudder took hold, and
like a bird that sees the danger below, and flies toward the
clouds, the airship shot up suddenly.
"That's it!" cried Tom in relief, as he noted the needle
of the barograph swinging over, indicating an ever-
increasing height. "Now we're safe."
They were not quite yet, but at last the power of
machinery had prevailed over that of the elements. Through
the pelting rain, and amid the glare of the lightning, and
the thunder of heaven's artillery, the airship forced her
way, up and up and up.
Setting the motor controller to give the maximum power
until he released it, Tom hastened to the gas-generating
apparatus. He found Ned attending to it, so that it was now
"How about it, Tom?" cried his chum anxiously.
"All right now, Ned, but it was a close shave! I thought
we were done for, platinum mine, rescue of exiles, and all."
"So did I. Shall I keep on with the gas?"
"Yes, until the indicator shows that the bag is full. I'm
going to the pilot house."
Running there, Tom found that Mr. Damon and the Russian
had about all they could manage. The young inventor helped
them and then, when the Falcon was well started on her
upward course, Tom set the automatic steering machine, and
they had a breathing spell.
To get above the sweep of the blast was no easy task, for
the wind strata seemed to be several miles high, and Tom
did not want to risk an accident by going to such an
elevation. So, when having gone up about a mile, he found a
comparatively calm area he held to that, and the Falcon sped
along with the occupants feeling fairly comfortable, for
there was no longer that rolling and tumbling motion.
The storm kept up all night, but the danger was
practically over, unless something should happen to the
machinery, and Tom and Ned kept careful watch to prevent
this. In the morning they could look down on the storm-swept
ocean below them, and there was a feeling of thankfulness in
their hearts that they were not engulfed in it.
"This is a pretty hard initiation for an amateur, remarked
Mr. Petrofsky. "I never imagined I should be as brave as
this in an airship in a storm."
"Oh, you can get used to almost anything," commented Mr.
It was three days before the storm blew itself out and
then came pleasant weather, during which the Falcon flew
rapidly along. Our friends busied themselves about many
things, talked of what lay before them, and made such plans
as they could.
It was the evening of the fifth day, and they expected to
sight the coast of France in the morning. Tom was in the
pilot house, setting the course for the night run, and Ned
had gone to the engine room to look after the oiling of the
Hardly had he reached the compartment than there was a
loud report, a brilliant flash of fire, and the machinery
"What is it?" cried Tom, as he came in on the run, for the
indicators in the pilot house had told him something was
"An accident!" cried Ned. "A breakdown, Tom! What shall we
SEEKING A QUARREL
There was an ominous silence in the engine room, following
the flash and the report. The young inventor took in every
bit of machinery in a quick glance, and he saw at once that
the main dynamo and magneto had short-circuited, and gone
out of commission. Almost instantly the airship began to
sink, for the propellers had ceased revolving.
"Bless my barograph!" cried Mr. Damon, appearing on the
scene. "We're sinking, Tom!"
"It's all right," answered our hero calmly. "It's a bad
accident, and may delay us, but there's no danger. Ned,
start up the gas machine," for they were progressing as an
aeroplane then. "Start that up, and we'll drift along as a
"Of course! Why didn't I think of that!" exclaimed Ned,
somewhat provoked at his own want of thought. The airship
was going down rapidly, but it was the work of but a moment
to start the generator, and then the earthward motion was
"We'll have to take our chance of being blown to France,"
remarked Tom, as he went over to look at the broken
electrical machinery. "But we ought to fetch the coast by
morning with this wind. Lucky it's blowing our way."
"Then you can't use the propellers?" asked Mr. Petrofsky.
"No," replied Tom, "but if we get to France I can easily
repair this break. It's the platinum bearings again. I do
hope we'll locate that lost mine, for I need a supply of
good reliable metal.
"Then we'll have to land in France?" asked the Russian,
and he seemed a trifle uneasy.
"Yes," answered Tom. "Don't you want to?"
"Well, I was thinking of our safety."
"Bless my silk hat!" cried Mr. Damon. "Where is the danger
of landing there? I rather hoped we could spend some time in
"There is no particular danger, unless it be comes known
that I am an escaped exile, and that we are on our way to
Siberia to rescue another one, and try to find the platinum
mine. Then we would be in danger."
"But how are they to know it?" asked Ned, who had come
back from the gas machine.
"France, especially in Paris and the larger cities, is a
hot-bed of political spies," answered Mr. Petrofsky. Russia
has many there on the secret police, and while the objectors
to the Czar's government are also there, they could do
little to help us."
"I guess they won't find out about us unless we give it
away," was Tom's opinion.
"I'm afraid they will," was the reply of the Russian.
"Undoubtedly word has been cabled by the spies who annoyed
us in Shopton, that we are on our way over here. Of course
they can't tell where we might land, but as soon as we do
land the news will be flashed all over, and the word will
come back that we are enemies of Russia. You can guess the
"Then let's go somewhere else," suggested Mr. Damon.
"It would be the same anywhere in Europe," replied Ivan
Petrofsky. "There are spies in all the large centres."
"Well, I've got to go to Paris, or some large city to get
the parts I need," said Tom. "Unfortunately I didn't bring
any along for the dynamo and magneto, as I should have done,
and I can't get the necessary pieces in a small town. I'll
have to depend on some big machine shop. But we might land
in some little-frequented place, and I could go in to town
"That might answer," spoke the Russian, and it was decided
to try that.
Meanwhile it was somewhat doubtful whether they would
reach France, for they were dependent on the wind. But it
seemed to be blowing steadily in the desired direction, and
Tom noted with satisfaction that their progress was
comparatively fast. He tried to repair the broken machinery
but found that he could not, though he spent much of the
night over it.
"Hurrah!" cried Ned when morning came, and he had taken an
observation. "There's some kind of land over there."
The wind freshened while they were at breakfast and using
more gas so as to raise them higher Tom directed the course
of his airship as best he could. He wanted to get high
enough so that if they passed over a city they would not be
At noon it could be seen through the glass that they were
over the outskirts of some large place, and after the
Russian had taken an observation he exclaimed:
"The environs of Paris! We must not land there!"
"We won't, if the wind holds out," remarked Tom and this
good fortune came to them. They succeeded in landing in a
field not far from a small village, and though several
farmers wondered much as the sight of the big airship, it
was thought by the platinum-seekers that they would be
"Now to get the first train for Paris and get the things I
need," exclaimed Tom. He set to work taking off the broken
pieces that they might be duplicated, and then, having
inquired at an inn for the nearest railroad station, and
having hired a rig, the young inventor set off.
"Can you speak French?" asked Mr. Petrofsky. "If not I
might be of service, but if I go to Paris I might be
"Never mind," interrupted Tom. "I guess I can parley enough
to get along with."
He had a small knowledge of the tongue, and with that, and
knowing that English was spoken in many places, he felt that
he could make out. And indeed he had no trouble. He easily
found his way about the gay capital, and located a machine
shop where a specialty was made of parts for automobile and
airship motors. The proprietor, knowing the broken pieces
belonged to an aeroplane, questioned Tom about his craft but
the young inventor knew better than to give any clew that
might make trouble, so he returned evasive answers.
It was nearly night when he got back to the place where he
had left the Falcon, and he found a curious crowd of rustics
grouped about it.
"Has anything happened?" he asked of his friends.
"No, everything is quiet, I'm glad to say," replied Mr.
Petrofsky. "I don't think our presence will create stir
enough so that the news of it will reach the spies in Paris.
Still I will feel easier when we're in the air again."
"It will take a day to make the repairs," said Tom, "and
put in the new pieces of platinum. But I'll work as fast as
He and Ned labored far into the night, and were at it
again the next morning. Mr. Damon and the Russian were of no
service for they did not understand the machinery well
enough. It was while Tom was outside the craft, filing a
piece of platinum in an improvised vise, that a poorly-
clothed man sauntered up and watched him curiously. Tom
glanced at him, and was at once struck by a difference
between the man's attire and his person.
For, though he was tattered and torn, the man's face
showed a certain refinement, and his hands were not those of
a farmer or laborer in which character he obviously posed.
"Monsieur has a fine airship there," he remarked to Tom.
"Oh, yes, it'll do." Tom did not want to encourage
"Doubtless from America it comes?"
The man spoke English but with an accent, and certain
"Maybe so," replied the young inventor.
"Is it permit to inspect the interior?"
"No, it isn't," came from Tom shortly. He had hurt his
finger with the file, and he was not in the best of humor.
"Ah, there are secrets then?" persisted the stranger.
"Yes!" said Tom shortly. "I wish you wouldn't bother me.
I'm busy, can't you see."
"Ah, does monsieur mean that I have poor eyesight?"
The question was snapped out so suddenly, and with such a
menacing tone that Tom glanced up quickly. He was surprised
at the look in the man's eyes.
"Just as you choose to take it," was the cool answer. "I
don't know anything about your eyes, but I know I've got
work to do."
"Monsieur is insulting!" rasped out the seeming farmer.
"He is not polite. He is not a Frenchman."
"Now that'll do!" cried Tom, thoroughly aroused. "I don't
want to be too short with you, but I've really got to get
this done. One side, if you please," and having finished
what he was doing, he started toward the airship.
Whether in his haste Tom did not notice where he was
going, or whether the man deliberately got in his way I
cannot say, but at any rate they collided and the seeming
farmer went spinning to one side, falling down.
"Monsieur has struck me! I am insulted! You shall pay for
this!" he cried, jumping to his feet, and making a rush for
"All right. It was your own fault for bothering me but if
you want anything I'll give it to you!" cried Tom, striking
a position of defense.
The man was about to rush at him, and there would have
been a fight in another minute, had not Mr. Petrofsky,
stepping to the open window of the pilot house, called out:
"Tom! Tom! Come here, quick. Never mind him!"
Swinging away from the man, the young inventor rushed
toward the airship. As he entered the pilot house he noticed
that his late questioner was racing off in the direction of
"What is it? What's the matter?" he asked of the Russian.
"Is something more wrong with the airship?"
"No, I just wanted to get you away from that man.
"Oh, I could take care of myself."
"I know that, but don't you see what his game was? I
listened to him. He was seeking a quarrel with you."
"Yes. He is a police spy. He wanted to get you into a
fight and then he and you would be arrested by the local
authorities. They'd clap you into jail, and hold us all
here. It's a game! They suspect us, Tom! The Russian spies
have had some word of our presence! We must get away as
quickly as we can!"
The announcement of Ivan Petrofsky came to Tom with
startling suddenness. He could say nothing for a moment, and
then, as he realized what it meant, and as he recalled the
strange appearance and actions of the man, he understood the
"Was he a spy?" he asked.
"I'm almost sure he was," came the answer. "He isn't one
of the villagers, that's sure, and he isn't a tourist. No
one else would be in this little out-of-the-way place but a
police official. He is in disguise, that is certain."
"I believe so," agreed Tom. "But what was his game?"
"We are suspected," replied the Russian. "I was afraid a
big airship couldn't land anywhere, in France without it
becoming known. Word must have been sent to Paris in the
night, and this spy came out directly."
"But what will happen now?"
"Didn't you see where he headed for? The village. He has
gone to send word that his trick failed. There will be more
spies soon, and we may be detained or thrown into jail on
some pretext or other. They may claim that we have no
license, or some such flimsy thing as that. Anything to
detain us. They are after me, of course, and I'm sorry that
I made you run such danger. Perhaps I'd better leave you,
"No, you don't!" cried Tom heartily. "We'll all hang
together or we'll hang separately', as Benjamin Franklin or
some of those old chaps once remarked. I'm not the kind to
desert a friend in the face of danger."
"Bless my revolver! I should say not!" cried Mr. Damon.
"What's it all about? Where's the danger?"
They told him as briefly as possible, and Ned, who had
been working in the motor room, was also informed.
"Well, what's to be done?" asked Tom. "Had we better get
out our ammunition, or shall I take out a French license."
"Neither would do any good," answered the Russian. "I
appreciate your sticking by me, and if you are resolved on
that the only thing to do is to complete the repairs as soon
as possible and get away from here."
"That's it!" cried Ned. "A quick flight. We can get more
gasolene here, for lots of autos pass along the road through
the village. I found that out. Then we needn't stop until we
hit the trail for the mine in Siberia!"
"Hush!" cautioned the Russian. "You can't tell who may be
sneaking around to listen. But we ought to leave as soon as
"And we will," said Tom. "I've got the magneto almost
"Let's get a hustle on then!" urged Ned. "That fellow
meant business from his looks. The nerve of him to try to
pick a quarrel that way."
"I might have told by his manner that something was
wrong," commented Tom, "but I thought he was a fresh tramp
and I didn't take any pains in answering him. But come on,
Ned, get busy."
They did, with such good effect that by noon the machinery
was in running shape again, and so far there had been no
evidence of the return of the spy. Doubtless he was waiting
for instructions, and something might happen any minute.
"Now, Ned, if you'll see to having some gasolene brought
out here, and the tanks filled, I'll tinker with the dynamo
and get that in running shape," said Tom. "It only needs a
little adjustment of the brushes. Then we'll be off."
Ned started for the village where there was a gasolene
depot He fancied the villagers regarded him rather
curiously, but he did not stop to ask what it meant. Another
odd fact was that the usual crowd of curious rustics about
the airship was missing. It was as though they suspected
trouble might come, and they did not want to he mixed up in
Never, Ned thought, had he seen a man so slow at getting
ready the supply of gasolene. He was to take it out in a
wagon, but first he mislaid the funnel, then the straining
cloth, and finally he discovered a break in the harness that
"I believe he's doing it on purpose to delay us," thought
the youth, "but it won't do to say anything. Something is in
the wind." He helped the man all he could, and urged him in
every way he knew, but the fellow seemed to have grown
suddenly stupid, and answered only in French, though
previously he had spoken some English.
But at last Ned, by dint of hard work, got him started,
and rode on the gasolene wagon with him. Once at the
anchored airship, Tom and the others filled the reserve
tanks themselves, though the man tried to help. However he
did more harm than good, spilling several gallons of the
"Oh, get away, and let us do it!" cried Tom at last. "I
know what you--"
"Easy!" cautioned Mr. Petrofsky, with a warning look, and
Finally the tanks were full, the man was paid, and he
started to drive away.
"Now to make a quick flight!" cried Tom, as he took his
place in the pilot house, while Ned went to the engine room.
"Full speed, Ned!"
"Yes, and we'll need it, too," said the Russian.
"Why?" asked Tom.
"Look!" was the answer, and Ivan Petrofsky pointed across
the field over which, headed toward the airship, came the
man who had sought a quarrel with Tom. And with the spy were
several policemen in uniform, their short swords dangling at
"They're after us!" cried Mr. Damon. "Bless my chronometer
they're after us!"
"Start the motor, Ned! Start the motor!" cried Tom, and a
moment later the hum of machinery was heard, while the
police and the spy broke into a run, shouting and waving
Slowly the airship arose, almost too slowly to suit those
on board who anxiously watched the oncoming officers. The
latter had drawn their short swords, and at the sight of
them Mr. Damon cried out:
"Bless my football! If they jab them into the gas bag,
Tom, we're done for!"
"They won't get the chance," answered the young inventor,
and he spoke truly, for a moment later, as the big
propellers took hold of the air, the Falcon went up with a
rush, and was far beyond the reach of the men. In a rage the
spy shook his fist at the fast receding craft, and one of
the policemen drew his revolver.
"They're going to fire!" cried Ned.
"They can't do much damage," answered Tom coolly. "A
bullet hole in the bag is easily repaired, and anywhere else
it won't amount to anything."
The officer was aiming his revolver at the airship, now
high above his head, but with a quick motion the spy pulled
down his companion's arm, and they seemed to be disputing
"I wonder what that means?" mused Mr. Damon.
"Probably they didn't want to risk getting into trouble,"
replied the Russian. "There are strict laws in France about
using firearms, and as yet we are accused of no crime. We
are only suspected, and I suppose the spy didn't want to get
into trouble. He is on foreign ground, and there might be
"Then you really think he was a spy?" asked Tom.
"No doubt of it, and I'm afraid this is only the beginning
of our trouble."
"In what way?"
"Well, of course word will be sent on ahead about us, and
every where we go they'll be on the watch for us. They have
our movements pretty well covered."
"We won't make a descent until we get to Siberia," said
Tom, "and I guess there it will be so lonesome that we won't
be troubled much."
"Perhaps," admitted the Russian, "but we will have to be
on our guard. Of course keeping up in the air will be an
advantage but they may--"
He stopped suddenly and shrugged his shoulders.
"What were you going to say?" inquired Ned.
"Oh, it's just something that might happen, but it's too
remote a possibility to work about. We're leaving those
fellows nicely behind," he added quickly, as though anxious
to change the subject
"Yes, at this rate we'll soon be out of France," observed
Tom, as he speeded the ship along still more. The young
inventor wondered what Mr. Petrofsky had been going to say,
but soon after this, some of the repaired machinery in the
motor room needed adjusting, and the young inventor was kept
so busy that the matter passed from his mind.
The dynamo and magneto were doing much more efficient work
since Tom had put the new platinum in, and the Falcon was
making better time than ever before. They were flying at a
moderate height, and could see wondering men, women and
children rush out from their houses, to gaze aloft at the
strange sight. Paris was now far behind, and that night they
were approaching the borders of Prussia, as Mn Petrofsky
informed them, for he knew every part of Europe.
The route, as laid down by Tom and the Russian, would send
the airship skirting the southern coast of the Baltic sea,
then north-west, to pass to one side of St. Petersburg, and
then, after getting far enough to the north, so as to avoid
the big cities, they would head due east for Siberia.
"In that way I think we'll avoid any danger from the
Russian police," remarked the exile.
For the next few days they flew steadily on at no
remarkable speed, as the extra effort used more gasolene
than Tom cared to expend in the motor. He realized that he
would need all he had, and he did not want to have to buy
any more until he was homeward bound, for the purchase of it
would lead to questions, and might cause their detention.
Mr. Damon gave his friends good meals and they enjoyed
their trip very much, though naturally there was some
anxiety about whether it would have a successful conclusion.
"Well, if we don't find the platinum mine we'll rescue
your brother, if there's a possible chance!" exclaimed Tom
one day, as he sat in the pilot house with the exile. "Jove!
it will be great to drop down, pick him up, and fly away
with him before those Cossacks, or whoever has him, know
"I'm afraid we can't make such a sensational rescue as
that," replied Mr. Petrofsky. "We'll have to go at it
diplomatically. That's the only way to get an exile out of
Siberia. We must get word to him somehow, after we locate
him, that we are waiting to help him, and then we can plan
for his escape. Poor Peter! I do hope we can find him, for
if he is in the salt or sulphur mines it is a living death!"
and he shuddered at the memory of his own exile.
"How do you expect to get definite information as to where
he might be?" asked Tom.
"I think the only thing to do is to get in touch with some
of the revolutionists," answered the Russian. "They have
ways and means of finding out even state secrets. I think
our best plan will be to land near some small town, when we
get to the edge of Siberia. If we can conceal the airship,
so much the better. Then I can disguise myself and go to the
"Will it be safe?" inquired the young inventor.
"I'll have to take that chance. It's the only way, as I am
the only one in our party who can speak Russian."
"That's right," admitted Tom with a laugh. "I'm afraid I
could never master that tongue. It's as hard as Chinese."
"Not quite," replied his friend, "but it is not an easy
language for an American."
They talked at some length, and then Tom noticing, by one
of the automatic gages on the wall of the pilot house, that
some of the machinery needed attention, went to attend to
He was rather surprised, on emerging from the motor
compartment, to see Mr. Damon standing on the open after
deck of the Falcon gazing earnestly toward the rear.
"Star-gazing in the day time?" asked Tom with a laugh.
"Bless my individuality!" exclaimed the odd man. "How you
startled me, Tom! No, I'm not looking at stars, but I've
been noticing a black speck in the sky for some time, and I
was wondering whether it was my eyesight, or whether it
really is something."
"Where is it?"
"Straight to the rear," answered Mr. Damon, "and it seems
to be about a mile up. It's been hanging in the same place
this ten minutes."
"Oh, I see," spoke Tom, when the speck had been pointed
out to him. "It's there all right, but I guess it's a bird,
an eagle perhaps. Wait, I'll get a glass and we'll take a
As he was taking the telescope down from its rack in the
pilot house, Mr. Petrofsky saw him.
"What's up?" asked the Russian, and the youth told him.
"Must be a pretty big bird to be seen at such a distance
as it is," remarked Tom.
"Maybe it isn't a bird," suggested Ivan Petrofsky. "I'll
take a look myself," and, showing something of alarm in his
manner, he followed Tom to where Mr. Damon awaited them. Ned
also came out on deck.
Quickly adjusting the glass, Tom focused it on the black
speck. It seemed to have grown larger. Me peered at it
steadily for several seconds.
"Is it a bird?" asked Mr. Damon.
"Jove! It's another airship--a big biplane!" cried Tom,
"and there seems to be three men in her."
"An aeroplane!" gasped Ned.
"Bless my deflecting rudder!" cried Mr. Damon. "An airship
in this out-of-the-way place?" for they were flying over a
"And they're coming right after us," added Tom, as he
continued to gaze.
"I thought so," was the quiet comment of Mr. Petrofsky.
"That is what I started to say a few days ago," he went on,
"when I stopped, as I hardly believed it possible. I thought
they might possibly send an aeroplane after us, as both the
French and Russian armies have a number of fast ones. So
they are pursuing us. I'm afraid my presence will bring you
no end of trouble."
"Let it come!" cried Tom. "If they can catch up to us
they've got a good machine. Come on, Ned, let's speed her
up, and make them take more of our star dust."
"Wait a minute," advised the Russian, as he took the
telescope from Tom, and viewed the ever-increasing speck
behind them. "Are you sure of the speed of this craft?" he
asked a moment later.
"I never saw the one yet I couldn't pull away from, even
after giving them a start," answered the young inventor
proudly. "That is all but my little sky racer. I could let
them get within speaking distance, and then pull out like
the Congressional Limited passing a slow freight."
"Then wait a few minutes," suggested Mr. Petrofsky. "That
is an aeroplane all right, but I can't make out from what
country. I'd like a better view, and if it's safe we can
"Oh, it's safe enough," declared Tom. "I'll get things in
shape for a quick move," and he hurried back to the machine
room, while the others took turns looking at the on-coming
aeroplane. And it was coming on rapidly, showing that it had
tremendous power, for it was a very large one, carrying
"How do you suppose they got on our track?" asked Ned.
"Oh, we must have been reported from time to time, as we
flew over cities or towns," replied Mr. Petrofsky. "You know
we're rather large, and can be seen from a good distance.
Then too, the whole Russian secret police force is at the
service of our enemies."
"But we're not over Russia yet," said Mr. Damon.
Ivan Petrofsky took the telescope and peered down toward
the earth. They were not a great way above it, and at that
moment they were passing a small village.
"Can you tell where we are?" asked the odd man.
"We are just over the border of the land of the Czar," was
the quiet answer. "The imperial flag is flying from a staff
in front of one of the buildings down there. We are over
"And here comes that airship," called Ned suddenly.
They gazed back with alarm, and saw that it was indeed so.
The big aeroplane had come on wonderfully fast in the last
"Tom! Tom!" cried his chum. "Better get ready to make a
"I'm all ready," calmly answered our hero. "Shall I go
"If you can give us a few seconds longer I may be able to
tell who is after us," remarked Mr. Petrofsky, turning his
telescope on the craft behind them.
"I can let them get almost up to us, and get away,"
The Russian did not answer. He was gazing earnestly at the
approaching aeroplane. A moment later he took the glass down
from his eye.
"It's our spy again," he said. "There are two others with
him. That is one of the aeroplanes owned by the secret
police. They are stationed all over Europe, ready for
instant service, and they're on our trail."
The pursuing craft was so near that the occupants could
easily be made out with the naked eye, but it needed the
glass to distinguish their features, and Mr. Petrofsky had
"Shall I speed up?" cried Tom.
"Yes, get away as fast as you can!" shouted the Russian.
"No telling what they may do," and then, with a hum and a
roar the motor of the Falcon increased its speed, and the
big airship shot ahead.
From the pursuing aircraft came a series of sharp
explosions that fairly rattled through the clear air.
"Look out for bombs!" yelled Ned.
"Bless my safety match!" cried Mr. Damon. "Are they
"It's only their motor hack-firing," cried Tom. "It's all
right, They're done for now, well leave them behind."
He was a true prophet, for with a continued rush and a
roar the airship of our friends opened up a big gap between
her rear rudders and the forward planes of the craft that
was chasing her. The three men were working frantically to
get their motor in shape, but it was a useless task
A little later, finding that they were losing speed, the
three police agents, or spies, whatever they might be, had
to volplane to earth and there was no need for the Falcon to
maintain the terrific pace, to which Tom had pushed her. The
pursuit was over.
"Well, we got out of that luckily," remarked Ned, as he
looked down to where the spies were making a landing. "I
guess they won't try that trick again."
"I'm afraid they will," predicted Mr. Petrofsky. "You
don't know these government agents as I do. They never give
up. They'll fix their engine, and get on our trail again."
"Then we'll make them work for what they get," put in Tom,
who, having set the automatic speed accelerator, had
rejoined his companions. "We'll try a high flight and if
they can pick up a trail in the air, and come up to us,
they're good ones!"
He ran to the pilot house, and set the elevation rudder at
its limit. Meanwhile the spies were working frantically over
their motor, trying to get it is shape for the pursuit. But
soon they realized that this was out of the question, for
the Falcon was far away, every moment going higher and
higher, until she was lost to sight beyond the clouds.
"I guess they'll have their own troubles now," remarked
Ned. "We've seen the last of them."
"Don't be too sure," spoke the Russian. We may have them
after us again. We're over the land of the Czar now, and
they'll have everything their own way. They'll want to stop
me at any cost."
"Do you think they suspect that we're after the platinum?"
"They may, for they know my brother and I were the only
ones who ever located it, though unless I get in the exact
neighborhood I'd have trouble myself picking it out. I
remember some of the landmarks, but my brother is better at
that sort of work than I am. But I think what they are
mostly afraid of is that I have some designs on the life of,
say one of the Grand Dukes, or some high official. But I am
totally opposed to violent measures," went on Mr. Petrofsky.
"I believe in a campaign of education, to gain for the down-
trodden people what are their rights."
"Do you think they know you are coming to rescue your
brother?" asked Tom.
"I don't believe so. And I hope not, for once they
suspected that, they would remove him to some place where I
never could locate him."
Calmer feelings succeeded the excitement caused by the
pursuit, and our friends, speculating on the matter, came to
the conclusion that the aeroplane must have started from
some Prussian town, as Mr. Petrofsky said there were a
number of Russian secret police in that country. The Falcon
was now speeding along at a considerable height, and after
running for a number of miles, sufficient to preclude the
possibility that they could be picked up by the pursuing
aeroplane, Tom sent his craft down, as the rarefied
atmosphere made breathing difficult.
It was about three days after the chase when, having
carefully studied the map and made several observations
through the telescope of the Country over which they were
traveling, that Ivan Petrofsky said:
"If it can be managed, Tom, I think we ought to go down
about here. There is a Russian town not far away, and I know
a few friends there, There is a large stretch of woodland,
and the airship can be easily concealed there.
"All right," agreed the young inventor, "down we go, and I
hope you get the information want."
Flying high so as to keep out of the observation of the
inhabitants of the Russian town, the young inventor sent his
craft in a circle about it, and, having seen a clearing in
the forest, he made a landing there, the Falcon having come
to rest a second time since leaving Shopton, now several
thousand miles away.
"We'll hide here for a few days," observed Tom, "and you
can spend as much time in town as you like, Mr. Petrofsky,"
The Russian, disguising himself by trimming his beard, and
putting on a pair of dark spectacles, went to the village
While he was gone Tom, Ned and Mr. Damon busied themselves
about the airship, making a few repairs that could not very
well be done while it was in motion. As night came on, and
the exile did not return, Tom began to get a little worried,
and he had some notion of going to seek him, but he knew it
would not be safe.
"He'll come all right," declared Ned, as they sat down to
supper. All about them was an almost impenetrable forest,
cut here and there by paths along which, as Mr. Petrofsky
had told them, the wood cutters drove their wagons.
It was quite a surprise therefor, when, as they were
leaving the table, a knock was heard on the cabin door.
"Bless my electric bell!" cried Mr. Damon. "Who can that
"Mr. Petrofsky of course," answered Ned.
"He wouldn't knock--he'd walk right in," spoke Tom, as he
went to the door. As he opened it he saw several dark-
bearded men standing there, and in their midst Mr.
For one moment our hero feared that his friend had been
arrested and that the police bad come to take the rest of
them into custody. But a word from the exile reassured him.
"These are some of my friends," said Mr. Petrofsky simply.
"They are Nihilists which I am not, but--"
"Nihilists yes! Always!" exclaimed one who spoke English.
"Death to the Czar and the Grand Dukes! Annihilation to the
"Gently my friend, gently," spoke Mr. Petrofsky. "I am
opposed to violence you know." And then, while his new
friends gazed wonderingly at the strange craft, he led them
inside. Tom and the others were hardly able to comprehend
what was about to take place.
ON TO SIBERIA
"Has anything happened?" asked Tom. "Are we suspected?
Have they come to warn us?"
"No, everything is all right, so far," answered Ivan
Petrofsky. "I didn't have the success I hoped for, and we
may have to wait here for a few days to get news of my
brother. But these men have been very kind to me," he went
on, "and they have ways of getting information that I have
not. So they are going to aid me."
"That's right!" exclaimed the one who had first spoken.
"We will yet win you to our cause, Brother Petrofsky. Death
to the Czar and the Grand Dukes!"
"Never!" exclaimed the exile firmly. "Peaceful measures
will succeed. But I am grateful for what you can do for me.
They heard me describe your wonderful airship," he explained
to Tom, "and wanted to see for themselves."
The Nihilists were made welcome after Mr. Petrofsky had
introduced them. They had strange and almost unpronounceable
names for the ears of our friends, and I will not trouble
you with them, save to say that the one who spoke English
fairly well, and who was the leader, was called Nicolas
Androwsky. There was much jabbering in the Russian tongue,
when Mr. Petrofsky and Mr. Androwsky took the others about
the craft, explaining how it worked.
"I can't show you the air glider," said Tom, who naturally
acted as guide, "as it would take too long to put together,
and besides there is not enough wind here to make it
"Then you need much wind?" asked Nicolas Androwsky.
"The harder the gale the better she flies," answered Tom
"Bless my sand bag, but that's right!" exclaimed Mr.
Damon, who, up to now had not taken much part in the
conversation. He followed the party about the airship,
keeping in the rear, and he eyed the Nihilists as if he
thought that each one had one or more dynamite bombs
concealed on his person.
"Ha!" exclaimed Mr. Androwsky, turning suddenly to the odd
man. "Are you not one of us? Do you not believe that this
terrible kingdom should be destroyed--made as nothing, and a
new one built from its ashes? Are you not one of us?" and
with a quick gesture he reached into his pocket.
"No! No!" exclaimed Mr. Damon, starting back. "Bless my
election ticket! No! Never could I throw a bomb. Please
don't give me one." Mr. Damon started to run away.
"A bomb!" exclaimed the Nihilist, and then he drew from
his pocket some pamphlets printed in Russian. "I have no
bombs. Here are some of the tracts we distribute to convert
unbelievers to our cause," he went on. "Read them and you
will understand what we are striving for. They will convert
you, I am sure."
He went on, following the rest of the party, while Mr.
Damon dropped back with Ned.
"Bless my gas meter!" gasped the odd man, as he stared at
the queerly-printed documents in his hand. "I thought he was
going to give me a bomb to throw!"
"I don't blame you," said Ned in a low voice. "They look
like desperate men, but probably they have suffered many
hardships, and they think their way of righting a wrong is
the only way. I suppose you'll read those tracts," he added
with a smile.
"Hum! I'm afraid not," answered Mr. Damon. "I might just
as well try to translate a Chinese laundry check. But I'll
save 'em for souvenirs," and he carefully put them in his
pocket, as if he feared they might unexpectedly turn into a
bomb and blow up the airship.
The tour of the craft was completed and the Nihilists
returned to the comfortable cabin where, much to their
surprise, they were served with a little lunch, Mr. Damon
bustling proudly about from the table to the galley, and
serving tea as nearly like the Russians drink it as
"Well, you certainly have a wonderful craft here--
wonderful," spoke Mr. Androwsky. "If we had some of these in
our group now, we could start from here, hover over the
palace of the Czar, or one of the Grand Dukes, drop a bomb,
utterly destroy it, and come back before any of the hated
police would be any the wiser."
"I'm afraid I can't lend it to you," said Tom, and he
could scarcely repress a shudder at the terrible ideas of
"It would never do," agreed Ivan Petrofsky. "The campaign
of education is the only way."
There were gutteral objections on the part of the other
Russians, and they turned to more cheerful subjects of talk.
"What are your plans?" asked Tom of the exile. "You say
you can get no trace here of your brother?"
"No, he seems to have totally disappeared from sight.
Usually we enemies of the government can get some news of a
prisoner, but poor Peter is either dead, or in some obscure
mine, which is hidden away in the forests or mountains."
"Maybe he is in the lost platinum mine," suggested Ned.
"No, that has not been discovered," declared the exile,
"or my friends here would have heard of it. That is still to
"And we'll do it, in the air glider," declared Tom. "By
the way, Mr. Petrofsky, would it not be a good plan to ask
your friends the location of the place where the winds
constantly blow with such force. It occurs to me that in
some such way we might locate the mine."
"It would be of use if there was only one place of the
gales," replied the exile. "But Siberia has many such spots
in the mountain fastnesses--places which, by the peculiar
formation of the land, have constant eddys of air over them.
No, the only way is for us to go as nearly as possible to
the place where my brother and I were imprisoned, and search
"But what is that you said about us having to stay here,
to get some news of your brother?" asked Tom.
"I had hoped to get some information here,"
resumed Mr. Petrofsky, "but my friends here
are without news. However, they are going to
make inquiries, and we will have to stay here
until they have an answer. It will be safe, they
think, as there are not many police in town, and
the local authorities are not very efficient. So the
airship will remain here, and, from time to time
I will go to the village, disguised, and see if any
word has come."
"And we will bring you news as soon as we get it,"
promised Mr. Androwsky. "You are not exactly one of us, but
you are against the government, and, therefor, a brother.
But you will be one of us in time."
"Never," replied the exile with a smile. "My only hope now
is to get my brother safely away, and then we will go and
live in free America. But, Tom, I hope I won't put you out
by delaying here."
"Not a bit of it. More than half the object of our trip is
to rescue your brother. We must do that first. Now as to
details," and they fell to discussing plans. It was late
that night when the Nihilists left the airship, first having
made a careful inspection to see that they were not spied
upon. They promised at once to set to work their secret
methods of getting information.
For several days the airship remained in the vicinity of
the Russian town. Our friends were undisturbed by visitors,
as they were in a forest where the villagers seldom came and
the nearest wood-road was nearly half a mile off.
Every day either Mr. Petrofsky went in to town to see the
Nihilists or some of them came out to the Falcon, usually at
"Well, have you any word yet?" asked Tom, after about a
week had passed.
"Nothing yet," answered the exile, and his tone was a bit
hopeless. "But we have not given up. All the most likely
places have been tried, but he is not there. We have had
traces of him, but they are not fresh ones. He seems to have
been moved from one mine to another. Probably they feared I
would make an attempt to rescue him. But I have not given
up. Me is somewhere in Siberia."
"And we'll find him!" cried Tom with enthusiasm.
For three days more they lingered, and then, one night,
when they were just getting ready to retire, there was a
knock on the cabin door. Mr. Petrofsky had been to the
village that day, and had received no news. He had only
returned about an hour before.
"Some one's knocking," announced Ned, as if there could be
any doubt of it.
"Bless my burglar alarm!" gasped Mr. Damon.
"I'll see who it is," volunteered Mr. Petrofsky, and Tom
looked toward the rack of loaded rifles, for that day a man,
seemingly a wood cutter had passed close to the airship, and
had hurried off as if he had seen a ghost.
The knock was repeated. It might be their friends, and it
But Mr. Petrofsky solved the riddle by throwing back the
portal, and there stood the Nihilist, Nicolas Androwsky.
"Is there anything the matter?" asked the exile quickly.
"We have news," was the cautious answer, as the Nihilist
slipped in, and closed the door behind him.
"News of my brother?"
"Of your brother! He is in a sulphur mine in the Altai
Mountains, near the city of Abakansk."
"Where's that?" asked Tom for he had forgotten most of his
"The Altai Mountains are a range about the middle of
Siberia," explained Mr. Petrofsky. "They begin at the
Kirghiz Steppes, and run west. It is a wild and desolate
place. I hope we can find poor Peter alive."
"And this city of Abakansk?" went on the young inventor.
"It is many miles from here, but I can give you a good
map," said the Nihilist. "Some of our friends are there," he
added with a half-growl. "I wish we could rescue all of
"We'd like to," spoke Tom. "But I fear it is impossible.
But now that we have a clew, come on! Let's start at once!
It may be dangerous to stay here. On to Siberia!"
IN A RUSSIAN PRISON
The news they had waited for had come at last. It might be
a false clew, but it was something to work on, and Tom was
tired of inaction. Then, too, even after they had started,
the prisoner might be moved and they would have to trace him
"But that is the latest information we could get," said
Mr. Androwsky. "It came through some of our Anarchist
friends, and I believe is reliable. Can you soon make a
thousand miles in your airship?"
"Yes," answered Tom, "if I push her to the limit."
"Then do so," advised the Nihilist, "for there is need of
haste. In making inquiries our friends might incur
suspicions and Peter Petrofsky may be exiled to some other
"Oh, we'll get there," cried Tom. "Ned, see to the gas
machine. Mr. Damon, you can help me in the pilot house."
"Here is a map of the best route," said the Nihilist, as
he handed one to Mr. Petrofsky. "It will take you there the
shortest way. But how can you steer when high in the air?"
"By compass," explained Tom. "We'll get there, never fear,
and we're grateful for your clew."
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