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Tom Swift and His Wireless Message/Chapter 4



At first Tom was greatly frightened at the sight of Andy's pale face. He feared lest the bully might be seriously hurt. But when he realized that the fall from the carriage, which was a low one, was not hard, and that Andy had landed on his outstretched hands before his head came in contact with the earth, our hero was somewhat reassured.

"I wish I had some water, with which to bathe his head," Tom murmured, and he looked about in vain for some. But it was not needed, for, a moment later, Andy opened his eyes, and, when he saw Tom bending over, and holding him, the bully exclaimed:

"Here! You let me go! Don't you hit me again, Tom Swift, or I'll punch you!"

"I didn't hit you," declared Tom, while Andy tore himself away, and struggled to his feet.

"Yes, you did, too, hit me!"

"I did not! You tried to strike me with your whip, as I was shoving your carriage out of the way, which I had a perfect right to do, as you were blockading the highway. You lost your balance and fell. It was your own fault."

"Well, you'll suffer for it, just the same, snarled Andy, and then, putting his hand to his head, and bringing it away, with some drops of blood on it, he cried out:

"Oh, I'm hurt! I'm injured! Get a doctor, or maybe I'll bleed to death!" He began blubbering, for Andy, like all bullies, was a coward.

"You're not hurt," asserted Tom, trying not to laugh. "It's only a scratch. Next time don't try to blockade the whole street, and you won't get into trouble. Are you able to drive home; or shall I take you in my car?"

"I wouldn't ride in your car!" snapped the ugly lad. "You go on, and mind your business now, and I'll pay you back for this, some day. I could have you arrested!"

"And so could I have you locked up for obstructing traffic. But I'll not. Your rig isn't damaged, and you'd better drive home."

The old white horse had not moved, and was evidently glad of the rest. A glance satisfied Tom that the carriage had not been damaged, and, getting into his car, while Andy was brushing the dust from his clothes, our hero started the motor. There was now room enough to pass around the obstructing carriage, and soon Tom was humming down the road, leaving a much discomfited bully behind him.

"Tom Swift is too smart—thinking he can run everybody, and everything, to suit himself," growled Andy, as he finished dusting off his clothes, and wiping the blood from his face. As Tom had said, the wound was but a scratch, though the bully's head ached, and he felt a little dizzy. "I wish I'd hit him with the horsewhip," he went on, vindictively. "I'll get square with him some day."

Andy had said this many times, but he had never yet succeeded in permanently getting the best of Tom. Pondering on some scheme of revenge the rich lad—for Mr. Foger, his father, was quite wealthy—drove on.

Meanwhile Tom, rather wishing the little encounter had not taken place, but refusing to blame himself for what had occurred, was speeding toward home.

"Let's see," he murmured, as he drove along in his powerful car. "I've got quite a lot to do if I make an early start for Philadelphia, in my airship, to-morrow. I want to tighten the propeller on the shaft a trifle, and give the engine a good try-out. Then, too, I think I'd better make the landing springs a little stiffer. The last time I made a descent the frame was pretty well jarred up. Yes, if I make that air trip to-morrow I'll have to do some tall hustling when I get home."

The electric runabout swung into the yard of the Swift house, and Tom brought it to a stop opposite the side door. He looked about for a sight of his father, Mrs. Baggert or Garret Jackson. The only person visible was Eradicate Sampson, working in the garden.

"Hello, Rad," called Tom. "Anybody home?"

"Yais, Massa Tom," answered the colored man. "Yo' dad an' anodder gen'mans hab jest gone in de house."

"Who's the other gentleman, Rad?" asked Tom, and the negro, glad of an excuse to cease the weeding of the onion bed, came shuffling forward.

"It's de gen'mans what is allers saying his prayers," he answered.

"Saying his prayers?" repeated Tom.

"Yep. Yo' knows what I means, Massa Tom. He's allers askin' a blessin' on his shoes, or his rubbers, or his necktie."

"Oh, you mean Mr. Wakefield Damon."

"Yais, sah, dat's who I done means. Mr. Wakefull Lemon—dat's sho' him."

At that moment there sounded, within the house, the voices of Mr. Swift, and some one else in conversation.

"And so Tom has decided to make a run to the Quaker City in the Butterfly, to-morrow," Mr. Swift was saying, "and he's going to see if he can be of any service to this Mr. Fenwick."

"Bless my watch chain!" exclaimed the other voice. "You don't say so! Why I know Mr. Fenwick very well—he and I used to go to school together, but bless my multiplication tables—I never thought he'd amount to anything! And so he's built an airship; and Tom is going to help him with it? Why, bless my collar button, I've a good notion to go along and see what happens. Bless my very existence, but I think I will!"

"That's Mr. Damon all right," observed Tom, with a smile, as he advanced toward the dining-room, whence the voices proceeded.

"Dat's what I done tole you!" said Eradicate, and, with slow and lagging steps he went back to weed the onion bed.

"How are you, Mr. Damon," called our hero, as he mounted the steps of the porch.

"Why, it's Tom—he's back!" exclaimed the eccentric man. Why, bless my shoe laces, Tom! how are you? I'm real glad to see you. Bless my eyeglasses, but I am! I just returned from a little western trip, and I thought I'd run over and see how you are. I came in my car—had two blowouts on the way, too. Bless my spark plug, but the kind of tires one gets now-a-days are a disgrace! However, I'm here, and your father has just told me about you going to Philadelphia in your monoplane, to help a fellow-inventor with his airship. It's real kind of you. Bless my topknot if it isn't! Do you know what I was just saying?"

"I heard you mention that you knew Mr. Fenwick," replied Tom, with a smile, as he shook hands with Mr. Damon.

"So I do, and, what's more, I'd like to see his airship. Will your Butterfly carry two passengers?"

"Easily, Mr. Damon."

"Then I'll tell you what I'm going to do. If you'll let me I'll take that run to Philadelphia with you!"

"Glad to have you come along," responded Tom, heartily.

"Then I'll go, and, what's more, if Fenwick's ship will rise, I'll go with you in that—bless my deflection rudder if I don't, Tom!" and puffing up his cheeks, as he exploded these words, Mr. Damon fairly raised himself on his tiptoes, and shook Tom's hand again.