Tom Swift And His Electric Runabout
Victor Appleton

Part 3 out of 3

be no rush. The building is not large enough to accommodate you
all. If you form a line, you will be admitted in turn. The bank
hopes to pay you all."

"Hopes!" cried a woman scornfully. "We can't eat hopes, young
man, nor yet pay the rent with it. Hopes indeed!"

But Ned had said all he cared to, and, with rather a white
face, he went back inside. The one door remained open and, with a
policeman on either side, a line of anxious depositors was slowly
formed. Tom watched them crowding and surging forward, all eager
to be first to get their cash out, lest there be not enough for
all. As he watched, the young inventor was aware that some was
signaling to him from the big window of the bank. He looked more
closely and saw Ned Newton beckoning to him, and the young
cashier was motioning Tom to go around to the rear, where a door
of the bank opened on a small alley. Wondering what was wanted,
Tom slowly ran his machine down the side street, and up the
alley. No one paid any attention to him.

A porter admitted the lad, and he made his way to the private
offices, where he knew his father and Mr. Damon would be. In the
corridors he could hear the murmur of the throng and the chink of
money, as the tellers paid it out.

"Well, Tom, this is bad business," remarked Mr. Swift, as he
saw his son. The lad noticed that Mr. Damon was in the telephone

"Yes, Dad," admitted Tom. "It's a run, all right. What are you
going to do?"

"The best we can. Pay out all the cash we have, and hope that
before that time, the people will come to their senses. The bank
is all right if they would only wait. But I'm afraid they won't
and, after we pay out all the cash we have, we'll have to close
the doors. Then there's sure to be an unpleasant scene, and maybe
some of the more hot-headed ones will advocate violence. We have
given orders to the tellers to pay out as slowly as possible, so
as to enable us to gain some time."

"And all you need is money; is that it, Dad?"

"That's it, Tom, but we have exhausted every possibility. Mr.
Damon is trying a forlorn hope now, but, even if he is

Before Mr. Swift had ceased speaking, Mr. Damon fairly burst
from the telephone booth. He was much excited.

"I've got it! I've got it!" he cried.

"What?" asked Mr. Swift and Tom in the same breath.

"The cash, or, what's just as good, the promise of it. I called
up Mr. Chase, of the Clayton National Bank, and he has agreed to
take the railroad securities I offered him as collateral, and let
me have sixty thousand dollars on them! That will give us cash
enough to weather the storm. Hurrah! We're all right now. Bless
my check book!"

"The Clayton National Bank," remarked Mr. Swift, and his voice
was hopeless. "It's forty miles away, Mr. Damon, and no railroad
around here runs anywhere near it. No one could get there and
back with the cash to-day, in time to save us from ruin. It's
impossible! Our last chance is gone."

"How far did you say it was, Dad?" asked Tom quickly.

"Forty miles there, over forty, I guess, and not very good
roads. We would need to have the cash here before three o'clock
to be of any service to us. No, it's out of the question. The
bank will have to fail!"

"No!" cried the young inventor, and his voice rang out through
the room. "I'll get the cash for you!"

"How?" gasped Mr. Damon. "You can't get there and back in

"Yes, I can!" cried Tom. "In my electric runabout! I can make
it go a hundred miles an hour, if necessary! Probably I'll have
to run slow over the bad roads; but I can do it! I know I can.
I'll get the sixty thousand dollars for you!"

For a moment there was silence. Then Mr. Damon cried:

"Good! And I'll go with you and deliver the securities to Mr.
Chase. Come on, Tom Swift! Bless my collar button, but maybe we
can yet save the old bank after all!"


Tom's proposal as a way out of the difficulty, and the prompt
seconding of it by Mr. Damon, seemed to deprive the other bank
officials, Mr. Swift included, of the power of speech for a few
moments. Then, as there came to the room where the scene had
taken place, the sound of the mob outside, clamoring for cash,
Mr. Pendergast, the president, remarked in a low voice:

"It seems to be the only way. Do you think you can do it, Tom

"I'm sure of it, as far as my electric car is concerned,"
replied the young inventor. "If we get the cash I'll have it back
here on time. The runabout is all ready for a fast trip."

"Then don't lose any time, Tom," advised his father. "Every
minute counts."

"Yes," added Mr. Damon. "Come on. I've got the securities in my
valise, and we can bring the cash back in the same satchel. Come
on, Tom."

The eccentric character caught up his valise, and started from
the room. Tom followed.

"Now, my son, be careful," advised his father. "You know the
need of haste, but don't take unnecessary risks. You'd better go
out the back way, as the crowd is easily excited."

Little more was said. Mr. Swift clasped his son's hand in a
firm pressure, and the bank president nervously bade the lad
good-by. Then, slipping out of the bank, by the rear entrance,
the porter closing the door after them, Tom and Mr. Damon took
their places in the electric machine.

"Just imagine you're racing for that three-thousand-dollar
prize, offered by the Touring Club of America, Tom," observed Mr.
Damon, as he deposited the valise at his feet.

"I don't have to do that," replied the youth. "I'm trying for a
bigger prize than that. I want to save the bank, and defeat the
schemes of the Fogers--father and son."

Tom turned on the power, and the machine rolled out on the main
street. As it turned the corner, leaving the impatient crowd of
depositors, now larger than ever, behind, Mr. Damon glanced over
at the new bank, and, as he did so, he called to Tom:

"There are the Fogers now."

The young inventor looked, and saw Andy and his father on the
steps of the new institution.

At the sight of the electric car, speeding along, Andy turned
and spoke to his parent. What he said seemed to impress Mr.
Foger, for he started, and looked more intently at Tom and Mr.
Damon. Then, as Tom watched, he saw the two excitedly conversing,
and a moment later Andy ran off in the direction in which Sam
Snedecker and Pete Bailey lived.

"I wonder if he's up to any tricks?" thought Tom, as he turned
on more power. "Well, if he is, I'll soon be where he can't reach

The young inventor did not dare send his car at full speed
through the streets of the town, and it was not until several
minutes had passed that they could go at more than the ordinary
rate. But once the open country was reached Tom "opened her up
full," and the song the motor sung was one of power. The vehicle
quickly gathered headway and was soon fairly whizzing along.

"If we keep this up we'll be there and back in good time,"
remarked Mr. Damon.

"Yes, but we can't do it," replied his companion. "The road to
Clayton is a poor one, and we'll soon be on it. Then we'll have
to go slow. But I'll make all the time I can until then."

So, for several miles more they crept along, at times having to
reduce to almost a walking pace, because of bad roads. Mr. Damon
looked at his watch almost every other minute.

"Eleven o'clock," he remarked, as they passed a milestone, "and
we're not half way there. Bless my gizzard, but I'm afraid we
won't make it, Tom. We left about ten, and we ought to be back by
two o'clock to do any good. That's four hours, and it will take
some time to transfer the securities, and get the cash. Every
minute counts."

"I know it," answered Tom, "and I'm going to count every

With eager eyes he watched every inch of the road, to steer to
the best advantage. His hands gripped the wheel until his
knuckles showed white with the strain, and, every now and then
his right hand adjusted the speed lever or the controller handle,
while his foot was on the emergency brake, ready to stop the car
at the first sign of danger.

And there was danger, not infrequently, for the road was up and
down hill, over frail bridges, and along steep cliffs. It was no
pleasure tour they were on.

When a little over half the distance had been made they came to
a better road, and Tom was able to use full speed ahead. Then the
electric went so fast that, had it not been for the steel wind-
shield in front, Mr. Damon, at any rate, would have been short of

"This is going some!" he cried to Tom. The lad nodded grimly,
and shoved the controller handle over to the last notch. Then
came a bad stretch and they had to slow down again. As they were
about out of it there came a little flash of fire and the motor

"Bless my overshoes!" cried Mr. Damon. "What's that; a fuse
blown out?"

"No," replied Tom, with a puzzled air. "But something has gone
wrong." Hastily he got out, and made an examination. He found it
was only one of the unimportant wires which had short-circuited,
and it was soon adjusted. But they had lost five precious
minutes. Tom tried to make up for lost time, but came to a hill a
little later, and this reduced their speed.

"Do you think we can make it before twelve?" asked Mr. Damon
anxiously. "We've got to, if we're to get back before three,

"I'll try," was the calm answer, and Tom's jaw was shut still
more tightly. Once again came more favorable roads and pushing
the car to the limit the occupants were rejoiced, a little later,
as they topped a hill, to come in sight of a fairly large city.

"There's Clayton!" cried Mr. Damon.

Ten minutes later they were rolling through the main street,
and as they stopped in front of the bank, the noon whistles blew
shrill and noisily.

"You did it, Tom!" cried Mr. Damon, springing out with the
valise of securities. "Now be ready for the return trip. I'll be
with you as soon as possible."

He went up the bank steps three at a time, like some boy
instead of an elderly man. Tom looked after him for a second and
then got down to oil up his car, and make some adjustments that
had rattled loose from the rough road. Unmindful of the curious
throng that gathered he crawled under the machine with his oil-

He had finished his work, and was back in his seat, ready to
start, but Mr. Damon had not reappeared.

"It's taking him a good while to get that cash," thought Tom.
"Maybe the securities were no good."

But, a few minutes later, Mr. Damon came hurrying from the
bank. The valise he carried seemed much heavier than when he went

"It's all right, Tom," he said. "I've got it. Now for the trip
home, and I hope we don't have any accidents. It took longer than
I thought to check over the bonds and receipt for them. But I've
got the cash. Now to save the bank!"

He took his place beside the young inventor, holding the valise
between his knees, while Tom turned on the power and sent his car
dashing down the street, and toward the road that led to Shopton.


"Did Mr. Chase make any objection to giving you the cash?"
asked Tom, as he shoved the controller over another notch, and
caused the motor to make a higher note in its song of speed.

"Oh, no, he was very nice about it," replied Mr. Damon. "He
said he hoped our bank would pull through. Said if we needed more
cash we could have it."

It was nearly one o'clock, and they had the worst part of the
journey yet to go. Thirty miles of stiff roads lay between them
and Shopton, the last five and the first five being fairly good,
with, here and there, soft spots.

Up hill and down went the electric auto. At every opportunity
Tom let out all the speed he could draw from the motor, but there
were many times when he had to slow down. He had just made the
ascent of a steep hill, and was turning into a fairly good road,
skirting the edge of a steep cliff, when there came a sharp

"Bless my soul! That's a fuse, I'm sure of it!" cried Mr.

"No," announced Tom, as he quickly shut off the power. "It's a
puncture. One of the inner tubes of the tire has been pierced. I
was afraid of that tube."

"What have you got to do; put on a new tire?" asked Mr. Damon.

"No, I'm going to put on a new wheel. I carry two spare ones
with tires all ready inflated. It won't take long."

But the process of changing wheels consumed more time than Tom
anticipated for the nut was stuck, and he and Mr. Damon had to
exert all their strength before they could loosen it. When the
new wheel was in place ten minutes had been lost.

"Hold on now, I'm going to speed her!" cried Tom, when they
were once more in their seats, and speed the machine he did. The
road was rough, but despite this the lad turned on almost full
power. Over the bumps they went, around curves and into rain-
washed ruts careening from side to side, and throwing Mr. Damon
about, as he expressed it afterward, "like a bean inside of a
football." As for the young inventor his grasp of the steering
wheel, and the manner in which he could brace himself against the
foot pedals, held him more firmly in place. On and on they
rushed, covering mile after mile, and approaching Shopton where
so much depended on their arrival.

Good and bad stretches of the road alternated, but now that Tom
had seen of what mettle his car was made, he did not spare it as
much as he had on the first trip. He saw that his machine would
stand hard knocks, and the way the battery and motor was behaving
was a joy to him. He knew that if he could make that eighty-mile
run in safety he stood a good chance of winning the prize, for no
harder test could have been devised.

But the race was still far from won. There was a particularly
unsafe stretch of road yet to be covered, and then would come a
smooth highway into Shopton.

"Ten miles more," observed Mr Damon, snapping shut his big
gold watch. "Ten miles more, and it's a quarter of two now. We
ought to be there at a quarter after, and that will be in good
time, eh, Tom?"

"I think so, but I don't know about this piece of road we're
coming to. It seems worse than when we passed over it this

As he spoke the auto began to slow up, for the wheels had
struck some heavy sand, and it was necessary to reduce the
current. Tom turned back the controller handle, but watched with
eager eyes for a sign that the roadbed was harder, so that he
could increase speed.

As the car turned around a curve, passing through a lonely
stretch of country, with woods on either side of the highway, Tom
glancing up, uttered a cry of astonishment.

"What's the matter; something gone wrong?" asked his companion.

For answer Tom pointed. There, just ahead of them, was a big
load of hay, and it was evident that the driver, was in no
particular hurry.

"We can't pass that without getting in over. our hubs!" cried
Tom. "If we turn out the side ditches are so soft that we'll need
help to pull out, and the road is so narrow for several miles
that we'll have to trail along behind that fellow."

"Bless my check book!" cried Mr. Damon. "Are we going to lose,
after all, on account of a load of hay? No, I'll buy it from him
first, at double the market price, tip it over, set fire to it,
toss it in the ditch, and then we can go past!"

"Maybe that will answer," retorted Tom, smiling grimly.

He put on a little more speed, and was soon close up behind the
load of hay, ringing his electric bell as a warning.

"I say!" called Mr. Damon to the unseen driver, "can't you turn
out and let us pass?"

"Ha! Hum! Wa'al I guess not!" came the answer, in unmistakable
farmer's accents. "You automobile fellers is too gol-hanged
smart, racin' along th' roads. I've got just as good a right here
as you fellers have, by heck!" The driver did not show himself.

"We know that," responded Tom, as quickly as he could, for he
did not want to anger the man. "But our machine is so heavy that
if we turn into the ditch I'm afraid we'll be mired."

"Huh! So'll I," was the retort from the unseen driver.. "Think
I want t' spile my load of hay?"

"But you have wide tires on, and you wouldn't sink in far,"
answered the young inventor. "Besides, it's very necessary that
we get past. A great deal depends on our speed."

"So it does on mine," was the reply. "Ef I git t' market late
I'll have t' stay all night, an' spend money on a hotel bill."

"I'll pay it! I'll pay your bill if you'll only pull out!"
cried Mr. Damon. "I'll give you a hundred dollars

He suddenly ceased speaking. From the bushes along the road
sprang several ragged, masked figures. Each one, aiming his
weapon at Tom, said in a low voice, that could not have been
heard by the driver of the hay wagon:

"Slow up your machine, young feller! We want to speak with you,
and don't you make a loud noise, or it won't be healthy for you!"

"Why of all the-!" began Mr. Damon, but another of the footpads
leveling his weapon at the eccentric man growled:

"Dry up, if you don't want to get shot!"

Mr. Damon subsided. Discretion was very plainly the better part
of valor. Tom had shut off the current. The load of hay continued
on ahead. Tom thought perhaps the driver of it might have been in
collusion with the thieves, to cause the auto to slow up.

"What do you want with us?" asked the young inventor, trying to
speak calmly, but finding it a hard task, with a revolver pointed
at him.

"You know what we want," exclaimed the leader, in a low voice.
"We want that cash you got from the bank, and we're going to have
it! Come, now, shell out!" and he advanced toward the automobile.


Close around the electric auto crowded the members of the hold-
up gang. Their eyes seemed to glare through the holes in their
black masks. Instantly Tom thought of the other occasion when he
was halted by masked figures. Could these, by any possibility, be
the same individuals? Was this a trick of Andy Foger and his

Tom tried to pierce through the disguises. Clearly the persons
were men--not boys--and they wore the ragged clothes of tramps.
Also, there was an air of dogged determination about them.

"Well, are you going to shell out?" asked the leader, taking a
step nearer, "or will we have to take it?"

"Bless my very existence! You don't mean to say that you're
going to take the money--I mean how do you know we have any
money?" and Mr. Damon hastily corrected himself. "What right have
you to stop us in this way? Don't you know that every minute
counts? We are in a hurry."

"I know it," spoke the leading masked figure with a laugh. "I
know you have considerable money in that shebang, and I know what
you hope to do with it, prevent the run on the Shopton National
Bank. But we need that money as much as some other people and,
what's more, we're going to have it! Come on, shell out!"

"Oh, why didn't we bring a gun!" lamented Mr. Damon in a low
voice to Tom. "Isn't there anything we can do? Can't you give
them an electric shock, Tom?"

"I'm afraid not. If it wasn't for that hay wagon we could turn
on the current and make a run for it. But we'd only go into the
ditch if we tried to pass now."

The load of hay was down the road, but as Tom looked he noticed
a curious thing. It seemed to be nearer than it was when the
attack of the masked men came. The wagon actually seemed to have
backed up. Once more the thought came to the lad that possibly
the load of fodder might be one of the factors on which the
thieves counted. They might have used it to make the auto halt,
and the man, or men, on it were probably in collusion with the
footpads. There was no doubt about it, the load of hay was coming
nearer, backing up instead of moving away. Tom couldn't
understand it. He gave a swift glance at the robbers. They had
not appeared to notice this, or, if they had, they gave no sign.

"Then we can't do anything," murmured Mr. Damon.

"I don't see that we can," replied the young inventor in a low

"And the money we worked so hard to get won't do the bank any
good," and Mr. Damon sighed.

"It's tough luck," agreed Tom.

"Come now, fork over that cash!" called the leader, advancing
still closer. "None of that talk between you there. If you think
you can work some trick on us you're mistaken. We're desperate
men, and we're well armed. The first show of resistance you make,
and we shoot--get that, fellows?" he added to his followers, and
they nodded grimly.

"Well," remarked Mr. Damon with an air of submission, "I only
want to warn you that you are acting illegally, and that you are
perpetrating a desperate crime."

"Oh, we know that all right," answered one of the men, and Tom
gave a start. He was sure he had heard that voice before. He
tried to remember it--tried to penetrate the disguise --but he
could not.

"I'll give you ten seconds more to hand over that bag of
money," went on the leader. "If you don't, we'll take it and some
of you may get hurt in the process."

There seemed nothing else to do. With a white face, but with
anger showing in his eyes Mr. Damon reached down to get the
valise. Tom had retained his grip of the steering wheel, and the
starting lever. He hoped, at the last minute, he might see a
chance to dash away, and escape, but that load of hay was in the
path. He noted that it was now quite near, but the thieves paid
no attention to it.

Tom might have reversed the power, and sent his machine
backward, but he could not see to steer it if he went in that
direction, and he would soon have gone into the ditch. There was
nothing to do save to hand over the cash, it seemed.

Mr. Damon had the bag raised from the car, and the leader of
the thieves was reaching up for it, when there came a sudden

From the load of hay there sounded a fusillade of pistol shots,
cracking out with viciousness. This was instantly followed by the
appearance of three men who came running from around the load of
hay, down the road toward the thieves. Each man carried a
pitchfork, and as they ran, one of the trio shouted:

"Right at 'em, boys! Jab your hay forks clean through the
scoundrels! By Heck, I guess we'll show 'em we know how t' tackle
a hold-up gang as well as the next fellow! Right at 'em now!
Charge 'em! Stick your forks right through 'em!" Again there
sounded a fusillade of pistol shots.

The thieves turned as one man, and glanced at the relief so
unexpectedly approaching. They gave one look at the three
determined looking farmers, with their sharp, glittering
pitchforks, and then, without a word, they turned and fled,
leaping into the bushes that lined the roadway. The underbrush
closed after them and they were hidden from sight.

On came the three farmers, waving their effective weapons, the
pistol shots still ringing out from the load of hay. Tom could
not understand it, and could see no one firing--could detect no

"Are they gone? Did they rob ye?" asked the foremost of the
trio, a burly, grizzled farmer. Bust my buttons, but I guess we
skeered 'em all right!"

"Bless my shoe buttons, but you certainly have!" cried Mr.
Damon, descending from the automobile, and wringing the hand of
the farmer, while Tom, thrust the bag of money under his legs and
waited further developments. The pistol shots rang out until one
of the men called:

"That'll do, Bub! We've skeered 'em like Mrs. Zenoby's pet cat!
You needn't crack that whip any more."

"Whip!" cried Tom. "Was that a whip?"

"That's what it was," explained the leading farmer. "Bub
Armstrong, my nephew, can crack it to beat th' band," and as if
in proof of this there emerged from behind the load of hay a
small lad, carrying a large whip, to which he gave a few trial
cracks, like pistol shots, as if to show his ability.

"It's all right, Bub," his uncle assured him. "We made 'em

"But I don't exactly understand," spoke Mr. Damon. "I thought
you were in league with those thieves, stopping us as you did
with your big load."

"So did I," admitted Tom.

"Ha! Ha!" laughed the farmer. "That's a pretty good joke.
Excuse me for laughin'. My name's Lyon, Jethro Lyon, of Salina
Township, an' these is my two sons, Ade and Burt. You see we're
on our way to Shopton, an' my nephew, Bub, he went along. We
thought you was some of them sassy automobile fellers at first
when you hollered to us you wanted to pass. Then when we looked
back, we seen them burglars goin' t' rob you, at least that's
what we suspicioned," and he paused suggestively.

"That was it," Tom said.

"Wa'al, when we seen that, we held a sort of consultation on
thet load of hay, where they couldn't see us. It was so big you
know," he needlessly explained. "Wa'al, we calcalated we could
help you, so I jest quietly backed up, until we was near enough.
I told Bub to take the long whip, an' crack it for all he was
wuth, so's it would sound like reinforcements approachin' with
guns, an' he done it."

"He certainly done it," added Burt.

"Wa'al," resumed Mr. Lyon, "then me an my sons we jest slipped
down off the front seat, an' come a runnin' with our pitchforks.
I reckoned them burglars would run when they see us an' heard us,
an' they done so."

"Yep, they done so," added Ade, like an echo.

"I can't tell you how much obliged we are to you," said Mr.
Damon. "We have sixty thousand dollars in this valise, and they
would have had it in another minute, and the bank would have

"Sixty thousand dollars!" gasped Mr. Lyon, and his sons and
nephew echoed the words. Mr. Damon briefly explained about the
money, and he and the young inventor again thanked their
rescuers, who had so unexpectedly, and in such a novel manner,
put the thieves to flight.

"An' you've got t' git t' Shopton before three o'clock with
thet cash?" asked Mr. Lyon.

"That's what we hoped to do," replied Tom "but I'm afraid we
won't now. It's half past two, and

"Don't say another word," interrupted Mr. Lyon. "I know what ye
mean. My hay's in the road. But don't let that worry ye none.
I'll pull out of your road in a jiffy, an' if we do go down in
th' ditch, why we can throw off part of th' load, lighten th'
wagon, an' pull out again. You've got t' hustle if ye git t'
Shopton by three o'clock."

"I can do it with a clear road," declared Tom, confidently.

"Then ye'll have th' clear road," Mr. Lyon assured him. "Come
boys, let's git th' hay t' one side."

The farmers pulled into the ditch. As they had feared the wagon
went in almost to the hubs, but they did not mind, and, even as
Tom and Mr. Damon shot past them, they fell to work tossing off
part of the fodder, to lighten the wagon. The young inventor and
his companion waved a grateful farewell to them as they fairly
tore past, for Tom had turned on almost the full current.

"Do you suppose that was the Happy Harry gang, or some members
of it who were not captured and sent to jail?" asked Mr. Damon.

"I don't believe so," answered the lad, shaking his head.
"Maybe they didn't really want to rob us. Perhaps they only
wanted to delay us so we wouldn't get to the bank on time."

"Bless my top knot, you may be right!" cried Mr. Damon.

Further conversation became difficult, as they struck a rough
part of the road, where the vehicle swayed and jolted to an
alarming degree. But Tom never slackened pace. On and on they
rushed, Mr. Damon frequently looking at his watch.

"We've got twenty minutes left," he remarked as they came out
on the smooth stretch of road, that led directly into Shopton.

Then Tom turned all the reserve power into the motor. The
machinery almost groaned as the current surged into the wires,
but it took up the load, and the electric car, swaying more than
ever, dashed ahead with its burden of wealth.

Now they were in the town, now speeding down the street leading
to the bank. One or two policemen shouted after them, for they
were violating the speed laws, but it was no time to stop for
that. On and on they dashed.

They came in sight of the bank. A long line of persons was
still in front. They seemed more excited than in the morning, for
the hour of three was approaching, and they feared the bank would
close its doors, never to open them again.

"The run is still on," observed Mr. Damon.

"But it will soon be over," predicted Tom.

Some news of the errand of the automobile must have penetrated
the crowd, for as Tom swung past the front entrance to the bank,
to go up the rear alley, he was greeted with a cheer.

"They're got the cash!" a man cried. "I'm satisfied now. I
don't draw out my deposit."

"I want to see the cash before I'll believe it," said another.

Tom slowed up to make the turn into the alley. As he did so he
glanced across the street to the new bank. In the window stood
Andy Foger and his father. There was a look of surprise on their
faces as they saw the arrival of the powerful car, and, Tom
fancied, also a look of chagrin.

Up the alley went the car, police keeping the crowd from
following. The porter was at the door. So, also, was Mr.
Pendergast and Mr. Swift, while some of the other officers were
grouped behind them.

"Did you get the money?" gasped the president.

"We did," answered Tom. "Are we on time, Dad?"

"Just on time, my boy! They're paying out the last of the cash
now! You're on time, thank fortune!"


From their task of handing out money to eager depositors, the
wearied tellers looked up as Tom and Mr. Damon entered with the
big valise crammed full of money. It was opened, and the bundles
of bills turned out on a table.

"Perhaps you'd better make an announcement to the crowd, Mr.
Pendergast," suggested Mr. Swift. "Tell them we now have cash
enough to meet all demands, and that the bank will be kept open
until every one is paid."

"I will," agreed the aged president. His announcement was
received with cheers, and had exactly the effect the inventor
hoped it would.

Many, learning that the bank was safe, and that they could have
their money whenever they wanted it, concluded not to withdraw
it, thus saving the interest. Scores in the waiting crowd turned
out of line and went home. Their example was contagious, and,
though many still remained to get their deposits, the run was
broken. Only part of the sixty thousand dollars Tom and Mr. Damon
had brought through after a race with time, was needed. But had
it not been for the moral effect of the cash arriving as it did,
the bank would have failed.

"You have a great car, Tom Swift," complimented Mr. Pendergast,
when the excitement had somewhat cooled down, and the story of
the hold-up had been told.

"I think so myself," agreed the young inventor modestly. "I
must get ready for the races now."

"And as for those farmers, I think I'll send them a reward,"
went on the president. "They deserve something for the trouble
they had with the load of hay. I certainly shall send them a
reward," which he did, and a substantial one, too.

Of course the hold-up was at once reported to the police after
the run had quieted down, but Chief Simonson surprised Tom by
saying that he had expected it.

"The gang that held you up," said the police officer, "was one
that escaped from a jail, about twenty miles away. I got a tip
after you left, that they were going to rob you, for, in some
way, they learned about the money you and Mr. Damon were to bring
from the bank. The unfortunate part of it was that the tip I got
was to the effect that the hold-up would take place just outside
of Clayton. I telephoned to the police there, just after you
left, and they said they'd send out a posse. But the gang changed
their plans; and held you up near here, where I wasn't expecting
it. But I'll get 'em yet."

Chief Simonson did not arrest the gang, but some other police
officers did, and they were taken back to jail. They were not
prosecuted for the attempted robbery of Tom, as it was considered
difficult to fix the guilt on them, but they received such a long
additional sentence for breaking jail, that it will be many years
before they are released.

When Tom reached home that night he found some mail from the
officials of the Touring Club of America. It was to the effect
that arrangements for the big contest had been completed, and
that contesting cars must be on the ground by September first.

"That gives me two weeks yet," thought our hero.

He read further of the regulations covering the race. Each car
must proceed from the home town or city of the owner, and go to
the track under its own power. This was a new regulation, it was
stated, and was adopted to better develop the industry of
building electric autos. Two passengers, or one in addition to
the driver, must be carried, it was stated, and this one would
also be expected to be in the car during the entire race.

Regarding the race proper it was stated that at first it had
been decided to make it a twenty-four hour endurance contest, but
that for certain reasons this was changed, as it was found that
few storage batteries could go this length of time without a
number of rechargings. Therefore the race was to be one for
distance--five hundred miles, on the new Long Island track, and
the car first covering that distance would win. Cars were allowed
to change their batteries as often as they needed to, but all
time lost would count against them. There were other rules and
regulations of minor importance.

"Well," remarked Tom, as he read through the circulars, "I must
get my car in shape. It will be quite a tip to Long Island, and I
think my best plan will be to go direct to the cottage we had
when we were building the submarine, and from there proceed to
the track. That will comply with the rules, I think. But who will
I get to go with me? I suppose Mr. Damon or Mr. Sharp will be
willing. I'll ask them."

He broached the matter to his two friends that night, and they
both agreed to go to Long Island in the car, though only Mr.
Sharp would accompany Tom in the race. The next two weeks were
busy ones for Tom. He worked night and day over his car, getting
it in shape for the big event.

The young inventor made some changes in his battery, and also
adopted a new gear, which would give greater speed. He also
completed the exterior of the auto, giving it several coats of
purple paint and varnish, so that when it was finished, though it
was different in shape from most autos, it was as fine an
appearing car as one could wish. He arranged to carry two extra
wheels, with tires inflated, and, under the rear seats, or
tonneau, as he called it, Tom fitted up a complete tire-repairing
outfit. Mr. Sharp agreed to ride there, and in case there was
need to use more than two spare wheels during the race, the
rubber shoes or inner tubes could be mended while the car was
swinging around the track.

Mr. Damon would ride in front with Tom on the cross-country
trip, and occasionally relieve him at steering, or would help to
manage the electrical connections. Spare fuses, extra parts,
wires and different things he thought he might need, the young
inventor stored in his car. He also found means to install a
small additional storage battery, to give added power in case of

Tom learned from the racing officials that if he made a trip
from Shopton to the cottage on the coast, near the city of
Atlantis, and later traveled from there to the track, it would
fulfill the conditions of the contest.

Finally all was in readiness, and one morning, having spent the
better part of the night going over his machine, to see that he
had forgotten nothing, Tom invited Mr. Damon and Mr. Sharp to
enter, and prepare for the trip to Long Island.

"Well, Tom, I certainly hope you win that race," remarked Mrs.
Baggert, as she stood in the doorway, waving a farewell.

"If I do I'll buy you a pair of diamond earrings to match the
diamond ring I gave you from the money I got from the wreck,"
promised the lad with a laugh.

"An' ef yo' sees dat Andy Foger," added Eradicate Sampson,
while he rubbed the long ears of Boomerang, his mule, "ef yo'
sees him, jest run ober him once or twice fer mah sake, Mistah

"I'll do it for my own, too," agreed Tom.

The youth shook hands with his father, who wished him good
luck, and then, after a final look at his car, he climbed to his
seat, and turned on the power. There was a low hum from the motor
and the electric started off. Would it return a winner or loser
of the big race?


Through the streets of Shopton went Tom Swift and his friends.
News of the big contest the young inventor was about to take part
in, had circulated around town, and there were not wanting many
to wish him good luck. The lad responded smilingly to the
farewells he received. As they passed the bank, Ned Newton came
out on the steps.

"Wish I was going along," he called.

"So do I," replied Tom. "How's everything? Is the bank all
right since the run?" for he had not had time to pay much
attention to the institution since his memorable race against
time, to get the money.

"Stronger and better than ever," was Ned's answer, as he came
to the curb, where Tom slowed up. "I hear," he added in a
whisper, "that the other fellows are going out of business--Foger
and his crowd you know. They loaned money on unsecured notes to
make a good showing, and now they can't get it back But we're all
right. Hope you win the race."

"So do I."

"What will a certain person do while you're away?" went on Ned,
with a wink.

"I don't know what you mean," replied Tom, trying not to blush.
"Do you mean my dad or Mrs. Baggert?"

"Neither, you old hypocrite you! I meant Miss Mary Nestor."

"Oh, hadn't you heard?" inquired Tom innocently. "She is going
to Long Island to visit some friends, and she'll be at the race."

"You lucky dog," murmured Ned with a laugh, as he went into the

Once more the electric auto started off, and was soon on the
quiet country road, where Tom speeded it up moderately. He hoped
to be able to make the entire distance to the shore cottage on
the single charge of current he had put into the battery at home,
and, as there was no special need for haste, he wanted to save
his power. The machine was running smoothly, and seemed able to
make a long race against time

The travelers ate lunch that day at Pendleton, a town some
distance from Shopton. They had covered a substantial part of
their trip. After a brief rest they started on again. Tom had
planned to spend two days and one night on the road, hoping to be
able to reach the shore cottage on the evening of the second day.
There, after recharging the battery, he would spend a night, or
two, and proceed to the track, ready for the race.

They found the roads fairly good, with bad stretches here and
there, which made it necessary for them to slow down. This
delayed them, and they found the shadows lengthening, and
darkness approaching, when they were still several miles from
Burgfield, where they intended to sleep.

"Will it be all right to travel at night?" asked Mr. Damon, a
bit nervously.

"Why, are you thinking of hold-up men?" inquired Mr. Sharp.

"No, but I was wondering about the condition of the roads,"
replied the eccentric man. "We don't want to run into a rock, or
collide with something."

"I guess this will light up the road far enough in advance, so
that we can see where we are going," suggested Tom, as he
switched on the powerful electric search-light. Though it was not
dark enough to illuminate the highway to the best advantage, the
powerful gleam shone dazzlingly in front of the swiftly moving

"I guess that will show up every pebble in the road," commented
the balloonist. It's very powerful."

Tom turned off the light, as, until it was darker, he could see
to better advantage unaided by it. He slowed down the speed
somewhat, but was still going at a good rate.

"There's a bridge somewhere about here," remarked the lad, when
they had gone on a mile further. I remember seeing it on my road
map. It's not very strong, and we'll have to run slow over it."

"Bless my gizzard, I hope we don't go through it!" cried Mr.
Damon. "Is your car very heavy, Tom?"

"Not heavy enough to break the bridge. Ah, there it is. Guess
I'll turn on the light so we can see what we're doing."

Just ahead of them loomed up the super-structure of a bridge,
and Tom turned the searchlight switch. At the instant he did so,
whether he did not keep a steady hand on the steering wheel, or
whether the auto went into a rut from which it could not be
turned, did not immediately develop, but the car suddenly shot
from the straight road, and swerved to one side. There was a
lurch, and the front wheels sank down.

"Look out! We're going into the river!" yelled Mr. Damon.

Tom jammed on the brakes and shut off the current. The auto
came to a sudden stop. The young inventor turned the searchlight
downward, to illuminate the ground directly in front of the car.

"Are we in the river?" asked Mr. Sharp.

"No," replied Tom in great chagrin. "We're in a muddy ditch.
One at the side of the road. Wheels in over the hubs! There
should have been a guard rail here. We're stuck for fair!"


"Bless my overshoes!" cried Mr. Damon. "Stuck in the mud, eh?"

"Hard and fast," added Tom, in disgust.

"What's to be done?" inquired Mr. Sharp.

"I should say we'll have to stay here until daylight, and wait
for some other auto to come along and pull us out," was Mr.
Damon's opinion. "It's might unpleasant, too, for there doesn't
seem to be any place around here where we can spend the night in
any kind of comfort. If we had the submarine or the airship, now,
it wouldn't so much matter."

"No, and this won't matter a great deal," remarked the young
inventor quickly. "We'll soon be out of this, but it will be hard

"What do you mean?" asked Mr. Sharp.

"I mean that we've got to pull ourselves out of this mud hole,"
explained the lad, as he prepared to descend. "I was afraid
something like this would happen, so I came prepared for it. I've
got ropes and pulleys with me, in the car. We'll fasten the rope
to the machine, attach one pulley to the bridge, another to the
car, and I guess we can get out of the mud. We'll try, anyhow."

"Well, I must say you looked pretty far ahead," complimented
Mr. Damon.

From a box under the tonneau Tom took out a thin but strong
rope and two compound pulleys, which would enable considerable
force to be applied. Mr. Sharp detached one of the powerful oil
lamps, and the three travelers took a look at the auto. It was
indeed deep in the mud and it seemed like a hopeless task to try
to get it out unaided. But Tom insisted that they could do it,
and the rope was soon attached, the hook of one pulley being
slipped around one of the braces of the bridge.

"Now, all together!" cried the lad, as he and his friends
grasped the long rope. They gave a great heave. At first it
seemed like pulling on a stone wall. The rope strained and the
pulleys creaked.

"I--guess--we--will--pull--the--bridge--over!" gasped Mr.

"Something's got to give way!" puffed Tom. "Now, once more! All

Suddenly they felt the rope moving. The pulleys creaked still
more and, by the light of the lamp, they could see that the auto
was slowly being pulled backward, out of the mud, and onto the
hard road. In a few minutes it was ready to proceed again.

The rope and pulleys were put away, and, after Tom had made an
examination of the car to see that it had sustained no damage,
they were off again, making good time to the hotel in Burgfield,
where they spent the night. They had an early breakfast, and, as
Tom went out to the barn to look at his car, he saw it surrounded
by a curious throng of men and boys. One of the boys was turning
some of the handles and levers.

"Here! Quit that!" yelled Tom, and the meddlesome lad leaped
down in fright. "Do you want to start the car and have it smash
into something?" demanded the young inventor.

"Aw, nothin' happened," retorted the lad. "I pulled every
handle on it, an' it didn't move.'~

"Good reason," murmured Tom, for he had taken the precaution to
remove a connecting plug, without which the machine could not be

The three were soon under way again, and covered many miles
over the fine country roads, the weather conditions being
delightful. On inquiry they found that by taking an infrequently
used highway, they could save several miles. It was over an
unoccupied part of country, rather wild and desolate, but they
did not mind that.

They were whizzing along, talking of Tom's chances for winning
the race when, after climbing a slight grade, the auto came to a
sudden stop on the summit.

"What's the matter?" asked Mr. Sharp. "Why are you stopping
here, Tom?"

"I didn't stop," was the surprising answer, and the lad shoved
the starting lever back and forth.

But there was no response. There was no hum from the motor. The
machine was "dead."

"That's queer," murmured the young inventor

"Maybe a fuse blew out," suggested Mr. Damon, that seeming to
be his favorite form of trouble.

"If it had you'd have known it," remarked Mr. Sharp.

"There's plenty of current in the battery, according to the
registering gauge, murmured the lad. "I can't understand it." He
reversed the current, thinking the wires might have become
crossed, but the machine would move neither backward nor forward,
yet the dial indicated that there was enough power stored away to
send it a hundred miles or more.

"Perhaps the dial hand has become caught," suggested Mr. Sharp.
"That sometimes happens on a steam gauge, and indicates a high
pressure when there isn't any. Hit it slightly, and see if the
hand swings back."

Tom did so. At once the hand fell to zero, indicating that
there was not an ampere of current left. The battery was
exhausted, but this fact had not been indicated on the gauge.

"I see now!" cried Tom. "It was those fellows at the hotel
barn! They monkeyed with the mechanism, short circuited the
battery, and jammed the gauge so I couldn't tell when my power
was gone. If I had known there wasn't enough to carry us I could
have recharged the battery at the hotel. But I figured that I had
enough current for the entire trip, and so there would have been,
if it hadn't leaked away. Now we're in a pretty pickle."

"Bless my hat band!" cried Mr. Damon. "Does that mean we can't

"Guess that's about it," answered Mr. Sharp, and Tom nodded.

"Well, why can't we go on to some place where they sell
electricity, and get enough to take us where we want to go?"
asked the odd character, whose ideas of machinery were somewhat

"The only trouble is we can't carry the heavy car with us,"
replied Tom. "It's too big to pick up and take to a charging

"Then we've got to wait until some one comes along with a team
of horses, and tows us in," commented Mr. Sharp. "And that will
be some time, on this lonely road."

Tom shook his head despondently. He went all over the car
again, but was forced to the first conclusion, that the reserve
current had leaked away, in consequence of the meddling prank of
the youth at the hotel. The situation was far from pleasant, and
the delay would seriously interfere with their plans.

Suddenly, as Tom was pacing up and down the road, he heard from
afar, a peculiar humming sound. He paused to listen.

"Trolley car," observed Mr. Sharp. "Maybe one of us could go
somewhere on the trolley and get help. There it is," and he
pointed to the electric vehicle, moving along about half a mile
away, at the foot of a gentle slope.

At the sight of the car Tom uttered a cry. "I have it!" he
exclaimed. "None of us need go for help! It's right at hand!"
His companions looked curiously, as the young inventor pointed
triumphantly to the fast disappearing electric.


"What do you mean?" asked Mr. Damon. "Will the electric trolley
pull us to a charging station?"

"No, we'll not need to go to a station," answered the youth.
"If we can get my car to the trolley tracks I can charge my
battery from there. And I think we can push the auto near enough.
It's down hill, and I've got a long wire so we won't have to go
too close."

"Good!" cried Mr. Sharp. "But attach the rope to the front of
the car, Tom. Mr. Damon and I will pull it. You'll have to ride
in it to steer it."

"We can take turns at riding," was Tom's answer, for he did not
want his companions to do all the work.

"Nonsense! You ride," said Mr. Damon. "You're lighter than we
are, and can steer better. It won't be any trouble at all to pull
this car down hill."

It proved to be an easy task, and in a short time the "dead"
auto was near enough to the electric line to permit Tom to run
his charging wire over to it.

"Why bless my soul!" exclaimed Mr. Damon, looking up. "There's
no overhead trolley wire. The car must run on storage batteries."

"Third rail, more likely," was the opinion of Mr. Sharp and so
it proved.

"I can charge from either the third rail or the trolley wire,"
declared Tom, who was insulating his hands in rubber gloves, and
getting his wires ready. In a short time he had the proper
connections made, and the much-needed current was soon flowing
into the depleted battery, or batteries, for there were several
sets, though the whole source of motive power was usually
referred to as a "storage battery."

"How long will it take?" asked Mr. Damon.

"About two hours," answered the lad. "We'll probably have to
disconnect our wires several times, whenever a trolley car comes
past. By my system I can recharge the battery very quickly.

"Do you suppose the owners of the road will make any
objection?" asked the balloonist.

"I'm going to pay for the current I use," explained the young
inventor. "I have a meter which tells how much I take."

The hum of an approaching car was heard, and Tom took the wires
from the third rail. The car came to a stop opposite the
automobile, the passengers, as well as the crew, looking
curiously at the queer racing machine. Tom explained to the
conductor what was going on, and asked the fare-collector to
notify those in charge of the power station that all current used
would be paid for. The conductor said this would be satisfactory,
he was sure, and the car proceeded, Tom resuming the charging of
his battery.

Allowing plenty of reserve power to accumulate, and making sure
that the gauge would not stick again, and deceive him, the owner
of the speedy electric was soon ready to proceed again. They had
been delayed a little over three hours, for they had to make
several shifts, as the cars came past.

They reached their shore cottage late that night, and, after
seeing that the runabout was safely locked in the big shed where
the submarine had been built, they all went to bed, for they were
very tired.

Tom sent word, the next day, to the managers of the race, that
he would be on hand at the time stipulated, and announced that he
had made part of the trip, as required, under the power of the
auto itself.

The next day was spent in overhauling the machinery, tightening
up some loose bearings, oiling different parts, and further
charging the battery. Tires were looked to, and the ones on the
spare wheels were gone over to prepare for any emergency that
might arise when the race was started.

On the third day, Tom, Mr. Sharp and Mr. Damon, leaving the
cottage completed the trip to Havenford, Long Island, where the
new track had been constructed.

They reached the place shortly before noon, and, if they had
been unaware of the location they could not have missed it, for
there were many autos speeding along the road toward the scene of
the race, which would take place the following day.

Several electric cars passed Tom and his friends, whizzing
swiftly by, but the young inventor was not going to show off his
speed until the time came. Besides, he did not want to run any
risks of an accident. But some of the contestants seemed anxious
for impromptu "brushes," and more than one called to our hero to
"speed up and let's see what she can do." But Tom smiled, and
shook his head.

There were many gasolene and some steam autos going out to the
new track, which was considered a remarkable piece of
engineering. It was in the shape of an octagon, and the turns
were considered very safe. It was a five mile track, and to
complete the race it would be necessary to make a hundred

Through scores of autos Tom and his friends threaded their way,
the young inventor keeping a watchful eye on the various types of
machine with which he would soon have to compete.

There were many kinds. Some were larger and some smaller than
his. Many obviously carried very large batteries, but whether
they had the speed or not was another question. Some, in spurts,
seemed to Tom, to be fully as fast as his own, and he began to
have some doubts whether he would win the race.

"But I'm not going to give up until the five hundredth mile is
finished," he thought, grimly.

They were now in sight of the track, and noted many machines
speeding around it.

"Go on in and try your car, Tom," urged Mr. Sharp.

"Yes, do," added Mr. Damon. "Let's see how it travels."

"I will, after I notify the proper officials that I have
arrived," decided the lad.

The formalities were soon complied with. Tom received his entry
card, after paying the fee, made affidavit that he had completed
the entire trip from home under his own power, save for the
little stretch when the car was pulled, which did not count
against him, and was soon ready to go on the track. Only electric
cars were allowed there.

As the young inventor guided his latest effort in the machine
line onto the big track there were murmurs of surprise from the

"That's a queer machine," said one.

"Yes, but it looks speedy," was another's opinion.

"There's the car for my money," added a third, pointing to a
big red electric which was certainly whizzing around the track.
Tom noted the red car. Behind it was a green one, also moving at
a fast rate of speed.

"Those will be my nearest rivals," thought the lad, as he
guided his car onto the track. A moment later he was sending the
auto ahead at moderate speed, while the other contestants looked
at the new arrival, as if trying to discover whether in it they
would have a dangerous competitor.


After making two circuits of the track at moderate speed, Tom
turned on more power, deciding to see how the machine would
behave on the turns, going at a fast speed. As it happened he
forged ahead just as the big red car was coming up behind him.
The driver of it took this for a challenge and threw his
controller handle forward.

"Come on!" he cried to our hero, when even with him.

Tom did not want to decline the invitation, and the impromptu
race was under way. Soon the green car came rushing up, and for
two miles the three kept almost in line. It was evident that
neither the green nor the red car drivers wanted to "open out,"
until they saw Tom do so.

He was willing to oblige them, and suddenly increased his
speed. They did the same, and went ahead of him. Then Tom turned
on a little more juice and got the lead, but the two men were
right after him, and they see-sawed like this for two more miles.
Then, with a cry the man in the red car, with a sudden burst of
speed, left Tom and the green car behind. The green car was soon
up to its rival, but Tom decided he would not spurt.

The lad and his friends spent the early part of the night in
making a final inspection of the machinery, finding it in good
order. Then, with his head filled with visions of the race on the
morrow Tom went to bed. He had made inquiries, by telephone, of
the friends of Miss Nestor, and learned that she had not arrived.
Tom felt a distinct sense of disappointment.

The day of the race could not have been better. It was ideal
weather, and conditions at the track were just right. Tom was up
early, and went over every inch of his car with a nervous dread
that he might find something the matter.

The final details of the race were completed, and the entrants
given their numbers and places. Tom drew a good position, not the
best, but he had no reason to complain. Half an hour before the
start he again telephoned to see if Miss Nestor had arrived, but
she had not, and it was with rather gloomy thoughts that the lad
entered his car, in which Mr. Sharp had already taken his place.
Mr. Damon went to the grandstand to watch the race.

"I wanted Mary to see me win," thought our hero, for he had
grimly set his mind on coming in ahead.

There was a great crowd in the grandstand and scattered about
the big track, which took in a large extent of territory. In
spite of its size--five miles around--it seemed solidly
packed for the entire length with autos, containing gay parties
who had come to see the electric contest. There was a band
playing gay airs, as Tom guided his machine through the entrance
gate, and onto the track.

The judges made their final inspection. There were twenty cars
entered, but it was obvious that some of them would not last
long, as their battery capacity was not large enough. Their
owners might have relied on recharging, but how they could do
this under the usual slow system, and hope to win, Tom could not
see. He hoped to run the entire distance on the single charge,
but, if by some accident part of his current should leak away,
his battery could be charged in a short time, by means of his new
system, to run for a considerable distance, or he could install a
new one already charged, for he had two sets on hand. Tom glanced
over the cars of his competitors. They were to be sent away in
batches, the affair being a handicap one, with time allowance for
the smaller powered cars. Tom noted that his car and the red and
the green ones were in the same bunch. Tom's car was purple.

"Are you all ready?" asked the starter of the first group of

"Ready," was the low-voiced response.

"Crack!" went the pistol, and there followed the hum of the
motors as the current set the mechanism to work. Forward went the
cars, amid the crash of the band and the cheers of the crowd. The
big race was under way.

"Do you feel nervous, Tom?" asked Mr. Sharp.

"Not a bit," replied the lad.

Around and around the track flew the speedy electrics. It was
evident that the holding of a meet solely for cars of this
character had brought out many new ideas that would be to the
benefit of the industry. Some cars were "freaks" and others, like
Tom's, showed a distinct advance over previous styles of

A five-hundred mile race around a track is rather a monotonous
affair, except for what happens, and things very soon began to
happen at this race.

As Tom had expected, several of the machines were forced to
withdraw. Tire troubles beset some, and others found that they
were hopelessly out of it because of low power, or lack of
battery capacity.

Tom determined not to let the red or the green car gain any
advantage over him, and so he watched those two vehicles
narrowly. On the other hand, the red and the green electrics were
evidently afraid of one another and of Tom.

They all three kept pretty much together for the first thirty
miles. By this time the race had settled down into a steady
grind. There was some excitement when the steering gear of one
car broke, and it crashed Into the fence, injuring the driver,
but the race went on.

The young inventor was holding his own with his two chief
rivals, and was feeling rather proud of his car, when there came
from it a report like a pistol shot.

"Blow out!" yelled Tom desperately, steering to one of the
several repair stations on the inner side of the track. "Be ready
with the extra wheel, Mr. Sharp!"

"Right you are!" cried the balloonist. The car was scarcely
stopped when he had leaped out, and had the lifting jack under
the left rear wheel, where the tire had gone to the bad. He and
Tom labored like Trojans to take off the wheel, and put on the
other. They lost five minutes, and when they got under way again
the red and the green cars were three quarters of a lap ahead.

"You've got to catch them!" declared Sharp firmly.

But the red and the green car drivers saw their advantage, and
were determined to hold it. Tom could not catch them without
going his limit, and he did not want to do this just yet.
However, he had his opportunity when about two hundred miles had
been covered. Both the red and the green cars had tire troubles,
but the red one was delayed scarcely two minutes as there was a
corps of mechanics on hand to take off the defective wheel and
put on another. Still Tom regained his lost ground, and once more
the race between those three cars was even.

In the rear of Tom's car Mr. Sharp was mending the blown-out
tire, though there was still one spare wheel on reserve. Tom, in
front, peered eagerly at the track. Nearly side by side raced the
red and the green cars, the latter somewhat to the rear.

It was at the three hundred and fiftieth mile that Tom had
another blow-out. This time it took a little longer to change the
wheel, and the red and green cars gained a full lap on him. The
track was now so dusty that it was difficult to see the
contesting cars. Many had dropped out, and more were on the verge
of giving up.

With the odds against him, Tom started in to regain the lost
ground. Narrowly he watched his electric power. Slowly he saw it
dropping. Would he have enough left to finish out the race? He
feared not. The hours were passing. Still there was a hundred
miles yet to go twenty circuits of the track. Some of the
spectators were getting weary and leaving. The band played

Suddenly Tom saw the red car shoot to one side of the track,
toward a charging station; The green car followed.

"That's our cue!" cried the young inventor "We need a little
more 'juice' and now is the time to get it."

The lad ran to the shed where his charging wires were, and they
were connected in a trice. He allowed twenty-five minutes for the
charging, as he knew with his improved battery he could get
enough current in that time to finish the contest. Before the red
and green car drivers had finished installing new batteries, for
they could not recharge as quickly as could our hero, Tom was on
the track again. But, in a little while, his two rivals were
after him.

It was now a spectacular race. Around and around swept the
three big cars. All the others were practically out of it. The
crowd became lively airs. Mile after mile was reeled off. The day
was passing. Tired and covered with dust from the track, Tom
still sat at the steering wheel.

"Two laps more!" cried Mr. Sharp, as the starter's pistol gave
this warning. "Can you get away from 'em, Tom?"

The red and the green cars were following closely. The young
inventor looked back and nodded. He turned on more power, almost
to the limit--that he was saving for the final spurt. But after
him still came the two big cars. Suddenly the red car shot ahead,
just as the last lap was beginning. The green tried to follow,
but there was a flash of fire, a loud report, and Tom knew a fuse
had blown out. There was no time for his rival to put in a new
one. The race was now between Tom and the red car. Could the lad
catch and pass it?

They were now only a mile from the finish. The red car was
three lengths ahead. With a quick motion Tom turned on the last
bit of power. There seemed to come a roar from his Motor and his
car shot ahead. It was on even terms with the red car when what
Tom had been fearing for the last five minutes happened. his fuse
blew out.

"Too bad! It's all up with us!" cried Mr. Sharp.

"No!" cried Tom in a ringing voice. "I've got an emergency fuse
ready!" He snapped a switch in place, putting into commission
another fuse. The motor that had lost speed began to pick it up
again. Tom had pulled back the controller handle, but he now
shoved it forward again, notch by notch, until it was at the
limit. He had fallen back from the red car, and the occupants of
that, with a yell of triumph, prepared to cross the line a

But, like a race horse that nerves himself for the last
desperate spurt, Tom's machine fairly leaped ahead. With his
hands gripping the rim of the steering wheel, until it seemed
that the bones of his fingers would protrude, Tom sent his car
straight for the finishing tape. There was a yell from the
spectators. Men were standing up, waving their hats and shouting.
Women were fairly screaming. Mr. Damon was blessing everything
within sight. Mr. Sharp, in his excitement, was pushing on the
back of the front seats as if to shove the car ahead.

Then, as the pistol announced the close of the race, Tom's car,
with what seemed a mighty leap, like a hunter clearing a ditch,
forged ahead, and crossed the line a length in advance of the red
car. Tom Swift had Won.

Amid the cheers of the crowd the lad slowed up, and, at the
direction of the judges, wheeled back to the stand, to receive
the prize. A certified check for three thousand dollars was
handed him, and he received the congratulations of the racing
officials. The driver of the red car also generously praised him.

"You won fair and square," he said, shaking hands with Tom.

The young inventor and his friends drove their car to their
shed. As Tom was descending, weary and begrimed with dust he
heard a voice asking:

"Mayn't I congratulate you also?"

He wheeled around, to confront Mary Nestor, immaculate in a
summer gown.

"Why--why," he stammered. "I--I thought you didn't come."

"Oh, yes I did," she answered, laughing. "I wouldn't have
missed it for anything. I arrived late, but I saw the whole race.
Wasn't it glorious. I'm so glad you won!" Tom was too, now, but
he shrank back when Miss Nestor held out both daintily gloved
hands to him. His hands were covered with oil and dirt.

"As if I cared for my gloves!" she cried, and she took
possession of his hands, a proceeding to which Tom was nothing
loath. "Are you going to race any more?" she asked, as he walked
along by her side, away from the gathering crowd.

"I don't know," he replied. "My car is speedier than I thought
it was. Perhaps I may enter it in other contests."

But what Tom Swift did later on will be told in another volume,
to be called, "Tom Swift and His Wireless Message; or, The
Castaways of Earthquake Island"--a strange tale of ship-wreck and

The run back home was made without incident, save for a broken
chain, easily repaired, the day following the race, and Tom later
received a number of invitations to give exhibitions of speed.
Several automobile manufacturers wanted to secure the rights to
his machine, but he said he desired to consider the matter before
acting. He did not forget his promise to Mrs. Baggert, regarding
the diamond earrings, and bought her the finest pair he could

"Come on, Mr. Sharp," proposed Tom, a week or so after the big
race, "let's go for a spin in the airship. I want to see how it
feels to be among the clouds once more," and they were soon
soaring aloft.

The new bank, started by Mr. Foger, did not flourish long. It
closed its doors in less than six months, but the old institution
was stronger than ever. Mr. Berg disappeared, and Tom never
learned whether the agent really was the man he had chased, and
whose watch charm he tore loose, though he always had his
suspicions. Nor did it ever develop who crossed the electric
wires, so that Tom was so nearly fatally shocked. Andy Foger
disliked our hero more than ever, and on several occasions caused
him not a little trouble, but Tom was able to look after himself.


This Isn't All!

Would you like to know what became of the good friends you have
made in this book?

Would you like to read other stories continuing their adventures
and experiences, or other books quite as entertaining by the same

On the reverse side of the wrapper which comes with this book,
you will find a wonderful list of stories which you can buy at
the same store where you got this book.

Don't throw away the Wrapper

Use it as a handy catalog of the books you want some day to have.
But in case you do mislay it, write to the Publishers for a
complete catalog.



Uniform Style of Binding. Individual Colored Wrappers,
Every Volume Complete in Itself.

Every boy possesses some form of inventive genius. Tom Swift is
a bright, ingenious boy and his inventions and adventures make
the most interesting kind of reading.



Individual Colored Wrappers and Text Illustrations by
Every Volume Complete in Itself.

In the company with his uncles, one a mighty hunter and the other
a noted scientist, Don Sturdy travels far and wide, gaining much
useful knowledge and meeting many thrilling adventures.

An engrossing tale of the Sahara Desert, of encounters with
wild animals and crafty Arabs.

Don's uncle, the hunter, took an order for some of the biggest
snakes to be found in South America--to be delivered alive!

A fascinating tale of exploration and adventure in the Valley
of Kings in Egypt.

A great polar blizzard nearly wrecks the airship of the

An absorbing tale of adventure among the volcanos of Alaska.

This story is just full of exciting and fearful experiences on
the sea.

A thrilling story of adventure in darkest Africa. Don is
carried over a mighty waterfall into the heart of gorilla land.


Back to Full Books