Text - "Tom Swift and his Sky Racer or The Quickest Flight on Record" Victor Appleton

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At the bedside
were the three doctors, and the nurse followed the young inventor in.
Mrs. Baggert stood in the hall, and near her was Garret Jackson. The
aged housekeeper had been weeping, but she smiled at Tom through her

"I think he's going to get well," she whispered. She always looked on
the bright side of things. Tom's heart felt better.

"You must only speak a few words to him," cautioned the specialist, who
had performed such a rare and delicate operation, near the heart of the
invalid. "He is very weak, Tom."

Mr. Swift opened his eyes as his son approached. He looked around

"Tom-are you there?" he asked in a whisper.

"Yes, dad," was the eager answer.

"They tell me you-you made a great trip to get Dr. Hendrix-broken
bridge-came through the air with him. Is that right?"

"Yes, dad. But don't tire yourself. You must get well and strong."

"I will, Tom. But tell me; did you go in-in the Humming-Bird?"

"Yes, dad."

"How did she work?"

"Fine. Over a hundred, and the motor wasn't at its best."

"That's good. Then you can go in the big race, and win."

"No, I don't believe I'll go, dad."

"Why not?" Mr. Swift spoke more strongly.

"I-because-well, I don't want to."

"Nonsense, Tom! I know; it's on my account. I know it is. But listen to
me. I want you to go in! I want you to win that race! Never mind about
me. I'm going to get well, and I'll recover all the more quickly if you
win that race. Now promise me you'll go in it and-and-win!"

The invalid's strength was fast leaving him.

"I-I," began Tom.

"Promise!" insisted the aged inventor, trying to rise. Dr. Hendrix made
a hasty move toward the bed.

"Promise!" whispered the surgeon to Tom.

"I-I promise!" exclaimed Tom, and the aged inventor sank back with a
smile of satisfaction on his pale face.

"Now you must go," said Dr. Gladby to Tom. "He has talked long enough.
He must sleep now, and get up his strength."

"Will he get better?" asked Tom, anxiously.

"We can't say for sure," was the answer. "We have great hopes."

"I don't want to enter the race unless I know he is going to live,"
went on Tom, as Dr. Gladby followed him out of the room.

"No one can say for a certainty that he will recover," spoke the
physician. "You will have to hope for the best, that is all, Tom. If I
were you I'd go in the race. It will occupy your mind, and if you could
send good news to your father it might help him in the fight for life
he is making."

"But suppose-suppose something happens while I am away?" suggested the
young inventor.

The doctor thought for a moment. Then he exclaimed:

"You have a wireless outfit on your craft; haven't you?"


"Then you can receive messages from here every hour if you wish. Garret
Jackson, your engineer, can send them, and you can pick them up in
mid-air if need be."

"So I can!" cried Tom. "I will go to the meet. I'll take the
Humming-Bird apart at once, and ship it to Eagle Park. Unless Dr.
Hendrix wants to go back in it," he added as an after thought.

"No," spoke Dr. Gladby, "Dr. Hendrix is going to remain here for a few
days, in case of an emergency. By that time the bridge will have been
repaired, and he can go back by train. I gather, from what he said,
that though he liked the air trip, he will not care for another one."

"Very well," assented Tom, and Mr. Damon and he were kept busy, packing
the Humming-Bird for shipment. Mr. Jackson helped them, and Eradicate
and his mule Boomerang were called on occasionally when boxes or crates
were to be taken to the railroad station.

In the meanwhile, Mr. Swift, if he did not improve any, at least held
his own. This the doctors said was a sign of hope, and, though Tom was
filled with anxiety, he tried to think that fate would be kind to him,
and that his father would recover. Dr. Hendrix left, saying there was
nothing more he could do, and that the rest depended on the local
physicians, and on the nurse.

"Und ve vill do our duty!" ponderously exclaimed Dr. Kurtz. "You go off
to dot bird race, Dom, und doan't vorry. Ve vill send der with-out-vire
messages to you venever dere is anyt'ing to report. Go mit a light

How Tom wished he could, but it was out of the question. The last of
the parts of the Humming-Bird had been sent away, and our hero
forwarded a telegram to Mr. Sharp, of the arrangement committee,
stating that he and Mr. Damon would soon follow. Then, having bidden
his father a fond farewell, and after arranging with Mr. Jackson to
send frequent wireless messages, Tom and the eccentric man left for the

There was a wireless station at Eagle Park, and Tom had planned to
receive the messages from home there until he could set up his own
plant. He would have two outfits. One in the big tent where the
Humming-Bird was to be put together, and another on the machine itself,
so that when in the air, practicing, or even in the great race itself,
there would be no break in the news that was to be flashed through

Tom and Mr. Damon arrived at Eagle Park on time, and Tom's first
inquiry was for a message from home. There was one, stating that Mr.
Swift was fairly comfortable, and seemed to be doing well. With
happiness in his heart, the young inventor then set about getting the
parts of his craft from the station to the park, where he and Mr.
Damon, with a trusty machinist whom Mr. Sharp had recommended, would
assemble it. Tom arranged that in his absence the wireless operator on
the grounds would take any message that came for him.

The Humming-Bird, in the big cases and boxes, had safely arrived, and
these were soon in the tent which had been assigned to Tom. It was
still several days until the opening of the meet, and the grounds
presented a scene of confusion.

Workmen were putting up grand stands, tents and sheds were being
erected, exhibitors were getting their machines in shape, and excited
contestants of many nationalities were hurrying to and fro, inquiring
about parts delayed in shipment, or worrying lest some of their pet
ideas be stolen.

Tom and Mr. Damon, with Frank Forker, the young machinist, were soon
busy in their big tent, which was a combined workshop and living
quarters, for Tom had determined to stay right on the ground until the
big race was over.

"I don't see anything of Andy Foger," remarked Mr. Damon, on the second
day of their residence in the park. "There are lots of new entries
arriving, but he doesn't seem to be on hand."

"There's time enough," replied Tom. "I am afraid he's hanging back
until the last minute, and will spring his machine so late that I won't
have time to lodge a protest. It would be just like him."

"Well, I'll be on the lookout for him. Have you heard from home to-day,

"No. I'm expecting a message any minute." The young inventor glanced
toward the wireless apparatus which had been set up in the tent. At
that moment there came the peculiar sound which indicated a message
coming through space, and down the receiving wires. "There's something
now!" exclaimed Tom, as he hurried over and clamped the telephone
receiver to his ear. He listened a moment.

"Good news!" he exclaimed. "Dad sat up a little to-day! I guess he's
going to get well!" and he clicked back congratulations to his father
and the others in Shopton.

Another day saw the Humming-Bird almost in shape again, and Tom was
preparing for a tryout of the engine.

Mr. Damon had gone over to the committee headquarters to consult with
Mr. Sharp about the steps necessary for Tom to take in case Andy did
attempt to enter a craft that infringed on the ideas of the young
inventor, and on his way back he saw a newly-erected tent. There was a
young man standing in the entrance, at the sight of whom the eccentric
man murmured:

"Bless my skate-strap! His face looks very familiar!"

The youth disappeared inside the tent suddenly, and, as Mr. Damon came
opposite the canvas shelter, he started in surprise.