Chapter IV. Tom Gets the Map
 

For a few seconds Tom was so surprised at the sudden action of the bully that he could neither move nor speak. Then, crying out a command to halt, the young inventor took after his enemy.

"The scamp!" he cried. "The nerve he has! To deceive Abe Abercrombie in that fashion! Wait until I get hold of him!"

"What's it all about?" asked the old miner, who, being a slow thinker had not understood all that had happened. "What's up, Tom Swift?"

"Haven't time to tell you now," flung back the running lad over his shoulder. "I've got to catch Andy! Then I'll explain. He's trying to get ahead of us. I guess, but we'll stop him!" Thereupon Tom flung himself against the door of the airship shed. The young inventor found the portal bolted, though it vibrated with the impact of his body.

"Come out of there, Andy Foger!" cried Tom, pounding on the door. "Come out, or I'll get an officer, and have you arrested!"

There was no answer.

"Come out, I say!" repeated Tom.

"Around th' back! Try th' back door!" suggested the miner, who had hastened to Tom's side. "Maybe he's run out that way!"

Tom listened. There was no movement in the shop. Then the young inventor sprinted around the side. He was just in time to see the bully running away over the lots and fields in the rear of his father's premises. Andy had climbed out of the back window of the shed, into which Tom and Ned had peered that day, had climbed the high fence, dropped down on the other side, and was now running away with all the speed he could muster.

"Come back--!" began Tom, and then he realized that his enemy could not hear him. The bully was too far away. At the same time our hero realized that it would be useless to give chase, for Andy had too much of a start. There was nothing to do but to turn back, and Tom knew that his delay in trying to gain an entrance at the front door had given Andy the very opportunity he needed to escape at the rear.

"Well, this is a bad turn of affairs," remarked the lad, as he faced the puzzled miner.

"What is, Tom?"

"Him having that map. It shows the location of the valley of gold, doesn't it, and tells how to get there?"

"That's what it does!"

"How did Andy happen to get it?"

"Jest as I told you. I was on my way t' your house, havin' inquired at th' post-office, an' the man said that at your place there was a big shed, where you kept your airships. I come along, an', of course, when I see this house, an' the shed, an' had a glimpse of th' airship, I, of course, thought it was your place. An', though you'd never told me about it, I thought maybe this lad was in business with you. So, like a blamed young tenderfoot, I blurted out my business afore I thought, an' handed him the map for safe keepin'. He took it, too, that's the worst of it."

"Yes, that's the worst of it," agreed Tom, "But I'll get it back, if I have to cause his arrest, and search his whole house."

"But he runned away, Tom."

"Oh, he'll come back. Was there only one copy of the map of the valley, Abe?" asked Tom, anxiously.

"Yep; only one"

"Could you make another?"

"No, not if you was to pay me a million dollars! You see I ain't no drawer, an' this map, while I made part of it, was mostly made by my old partner, who was with me when we discovered th' valley of gold, an' was druv back by th' savage Eskimos an' Indians, an' by th' terrible cold. My partner made th' best part of th' map, an' he's dead, poor fellow."

"I see. That's too bad! Then you can't make a duplicate map?"

"Nary a one. But can't you do somethin'? It were amazin' stupid of me, old Abe Abercrombie, t' be took in by a boy like him! Can't you do somethin'?"

"I'm going to try," announced Tom determinedly, as he swung on toward the Foger house. "I'll cause his arrest if he doesn't give it up."

A few minutes later Tom Swift and Abe confronted Mr. Foger. The rich man, father of the bully, was rather surprised at the visit from the young inventor, for the two were not friends.

"Well, what can I do for you, Tom Swift?" asked the banker, for he felt a certain coldness toward our hero, since the latter had defeated him in an effort to wreck a financial institution in which Tom and his father were interested.

"Mr. Foger," spoke Tom, sternly, "your son has just stolen a map belonging to this gentleman," and he indicated Abe.

"My son stolen a map!" exclaimed Mr. Foger. "How dare you make such an accusation, Tom Swift?"

"I dare, because it's true! And, unless that map is returned to me at my house to-night I shall swear out a warrant for Andy's arrest."

"You'd never dare do that!"

"Wait and see!" spoke Tom, firmly. "I will give your son, or you, exactly five hours to return that map--if it isn't back in my hands by then, I'll get a warrant!"

"Preposterous! Stuff and nonsense!" blustered Mr. Foger. "My son never stole anything!"

"He stole this map, and there is plenty of evidence," went on Tom, as he detailed the circumstances.

Mr. Foger hemmed and hawed, and affected not to believe that anything of the kind could have happened. But Tom was firm, and Abe Abercrombie backed up his statements, until even the banker began to waver.

"Very well," he announced at length, "I will look into this matter, and if I find that my son has anything of yours, you shall have it back. But I cannot believe it. Perhaps he took it as a joke."

"In which case," spoke Tom grimly, "he will find that he has carried the joke too far," and with that he and the miner left the Foger home.

"It's all my fault," bewailed Abe, as he and our hero trudged on toward the Swift household.

"No, it wasn't, Abe," declared Tom. "Any one would have been deceived by such tactics as Andy used--that is any stranger. And you didn't expect to find two airship sheds so close together."

"No. That's right, I didn't. That's what threw me off th' track."

"Andy only recently began work on his triplane. I don't know what his object is, and I don't care. Just now I'm more concerned about getting back this map."

"I hope we do get it."

"Oh, we will. I'm going to start off on my own hook, to find Andy. But first I'll take you to my house."

The old miner was soon telling his story to Mr. Swift, the housekeeper and Garret Jackson. They expressed their surprise at Andy's daring act. But Tom didn't do much more talking.

"I'm going out to find Andy," he declared, "and when I do--" He didn't finish his sentence, but they all knew what he meant.

But the bully was in none of his usual haunts, though Tom visited them all. Nor was Andy at the homes of either of his cronies.

"Well, if I don't find him, I shall certainly swear out the warrant," decided Tom. "I'll give him until night, and then I'll call on the police."

Still he did not give up, but went to several other places where Andy might be found. He had about given up, as it was getting toward late afternoon, when, as he came out of a billiardroom, where the bully was in the habit of spending much of his time, Tom saw the lad of whom he was in search.

"Hold on there, Andy Foger!" cried the young inventor. "I want to see you!"

"What about?"

"You know very well. Where's that map you stole?"

"I haven't got it."

"Take care!" and Tom, with a quick step was beside the bully, and had grasped him firmly by the arm.

"You let me alone, Tom Swift!" cried Andy.

"Where's that map?" and Tom gave Andy's arm a wrench.

"It's at your house; that's where it is! I just took it back. It was only a joke."

"A joke, eh? And you took it back?"

"Yes, I did. Now you let me go!"

"I will when I find out if you're telling me the truth or not, Andy Foger. You come with me!"

"Where?"

"To my house. I want to see if that map's there."

"Well, you'll find that it is, and you'd better let me go! My father told me to take the map back, and I did. You let me go!"

Andy struggled to get loose, but Tom had too tight a grip. There was something, too, in the manner of our hero that warned Andy not to trifle with him. So, concluding that discretion was the better part of valor, Andy walked sullenly along toward Tom's home, the young inventor never relaxing the grip on his enemy's arm.

They reached the Swift home. Still holding his captive, Tom rang the bell. His father came to the door, followed by Abe Abercrombie.

"Is the map back?" asked the young inventor, anxiously.

"Yes, Andy brought it here a few minutes ago," announced Mr. Swift.

"Is it the right one, Abe?" inquired Tom.

"Yep, Tom. I made sure of that as soon as I laid my eyes on it. It's th' right one."

"Then you can go, Andy Foger," announced our hero, "and if I ever catch you in another trick like this, I'll take the law into my own hands. Clear out, now!"

"You wait! I'll get even with you," muttered the bully, as he fled down the front walk, as though afraid Tom would, even then, put his threat into execution.

"Did he damage the map any?" asked the lad, as he followed his father and Abe into the house.

"Nary a bit," answered the old miner. "It's jest th' same as it was. There it is," and he spread a crinkled sheet of tough parchment in front of Tom. It was covered with a rude drawing, and with names of places scrawled on it.

"So that's the map, eh?" murmured Tom, eagerly scanning it.

"That's it, an' here's th' valley of gold," went on Abe, as he placed one rough finger on a certain spot. "Right there--hello!" he cried, as he peered more closely at the parchment. "That ink spot wasn't there when I had th' map, a few hours ago."

"What ink spot?" asked Tom, anxiously.

"That one," and the miner indicated a small one near the edge of the map. "That was never there!"

"It looks as if it was recently made," added Mr. Swift, who was something of a chemist.

"An ink spot-freshly made," murmured Tom, "Dad--Abe, I can guess what's happened!"

"What?" demanded the miner.

"Andy Foger made a copy of this map while it was in his possession, and now he knows where the valley of gold is as well as we do! He may get there ahead of us!"