Chapter VIII. Andy Foger's Revenge
 

During the following week, Tom was kept busy over the airship. He made many important changes, and one of these was to use a new kind of gas in the balloon bag. He wanted a gas with a greater lifting power than that of the ordinary illuminating vapor which Mr. Fenwick had used.

"Well," remarked Tom, as he came from the airship shed one afternoon, "I think we can give it a try-out, Mr. Fenwick, in a few days more. I shall have to go back to Shopton to get some articles I need, and when I come back I will bring Mr. Damon with me, and we will see what the Whizzer can do."

"Do you mean we will make a trial flight?"

"Yes."

"For how long a distance?"

"It all depends on how she behaves," answered Tom, with a smile. "If possible, we'll make a long flight."

"Then I'll tell you what I'm going to do," went on the inventor, "I'm going to put aboard a stock of provisions, and some other supplies and stores, in case we are two or three days in the air."

"It might not be a bad plan," agreed Tom, "though I hardly think we will be gone as long as that."

"Well, being out in the air always makes me hungry," proceeded Mr. Fenwick, "so I'm going to take plenty of food along."

The time was to come, and that very soon, when this decision of the inventor of the Whizzer stood the adventurers in good stead.

Tom returned to Shopton the next day, and sent word to have Mr. Damon join him in time to go back to the Quaker City two days later.

"But why don't you start right back to Philadelphia to-morrow," asked Mr. Swift of his son.

"Because," answered Tom, and that was all the reason he would give, though had any one seen him reading a certain note a few minutes before that, which note was awaiting him on his arrival from the Quaker City, they would not have wondered at his decision.

The note was brief. It merely said:

"Won't you come, and have some apple turnovers? The new cook is a treasure, and the girls are anxious to meet you."

It was signed: Mary Nestor.

"I think I could enjoy some apple turnovers," remarked Tom, with a smile.

Having gotten ready the few special appliances he wished to take back to Philadelphia with him, Tom went, that evening, to call on Miss Nestor. True to her promise, the girl had a big plate full of apple turnovers, which she gaily offered our hero on his arrival, and, on his laughing declination to partake of so many, she ushered him into a room full of pretty girls, saying:

"They'll help you eat them, Tom. Girls, here is Mr. Swift, who doesn't mind going up in the air or under the ocean, or even catching runaway horses," by which last she referred to the time Tom saved her life, and first made her acquaintance.

As for the young inventor, he gave a gasp, almost as if he had plunged into a bath of icy water, at the sight of so many pretty faces staring at him. He said afterward that he would rather have vol-planed back to earth from a seven-mile height, than again face such a battery of sparkling eyes.

But our hero soon recovered himself, and entered into the merriment of the evening, and, before he knew it he was telling Miss Nestor and her attractive guests something of his exploits.

"But I'm talking altogether too much about myself." he said, finally. "How is the new cook Miss Nestor; and have you heard from your father and mother since they sailed on the Resolute for the West Indies?"

"As to the new cook, she is a jewel of the first water," answered Miss Nestor. "We all like her, and she is anxious for another ride in a taxicab, as she calls your auto."

"She shall have it," declared Tom, "for those are the best apple turnovers I ever ate."

"I'll tell her so," declared Mary. "She'll appreciate it coming from an inventor of your ability."

"Have you heard from your parents?" asked Tom, anxious to change the subject.

"Oh, yes. I had a wire to-day. They stopped at St. Augustine to let me know they were having a glorious time aboard the yacht. Mr. Hosbrook, the owner, is an ideal host, mamma said. They are proceeding directly to the West Indies, now. I do hope they will arrive safely. They say there are bad storms down there at this time of year."

"Perhaps, if they are shipwrecked, Mr. Swift will go to their rescue in one of his airships, or a submarine," suggested Mabel Jackson, one of the several pretty girls.

"Oh, I hope he doesn't have to!" exclaimed Mary. "Don't speak of shipwrecks! It makes me shudder," and she seemed unduly alarmed.

"Of course they won't have any trouble," asserted Tom, confidently, more to reassure Miss Nestor, than from any knowledge he possessed; "but if they do get cast away on a desert island, I'll certainly go to their rescue," he added.

It was late when Tom started for home that night, for the society of Miss Nestor and her friends made the time pass quickly. He promised to call again, and try some more samples of the new cook's culinary art, as soon as he had gotten Mr. Fenwick's airship in shape for flying.

As, later that night, the young inventor came in sight of his home, and the various buildings and shops surrounding it, his first glance was toward the shed which contained his monoplane, Butterfly. That little craft was Tom's pet. It had not cost him anything like as much as had his other inventions, either in time or money, but he cared more for it than for his big airship, Red Cloud. This was principally because the Butterfly was so light and airy, and could be gotten ready so quickly for a flight across country. It was capable of long endurance, too, for an extra large supply of gasolene and oil was carried aboard.

So it was with rather a start of surprise that Tom saw a light in the structure where the Butterfly was housed.

"I wonder if dad or Mr. Jackson can be out there?" he mused. "Yet, I don't see why they should be. They wouldn't be going for a flight at night. Or perhaps Mr. Damon arrived, and is out looking it over."

A moment's reflection, however, told Tom that this last surmise could not be true, since the eccentric man had telegraphed, saying he would not arrive until the next day.

"Somebody's out there, however," went on Tom, "and I'm going to see who it is. I hope it isn't Eradicate monkeying with the monoplane. He's very curious, and he might get it out of order."

Tom increased his pace, and moved swiftly but softly toward the shed. If there was an intruder inside he wanted to surprise him. There were large windows to the place, and they would give a good view of the interior. As Tom approached, the light within flickered, and moved to and fro.

Tom reached one of the casements, and peered in. He caught a glimpse of a moving figure, and he heard a peculiar ripping sound. Then, as he sprang toward the front door, the light suddenly went out, and the young inventor could hear some one running from the shop.

"They've seen me, and are trying to get away," thought the lad. "I must catch them!"

He fairly leaped toward the portal, and, just as he reached it, a figure sprang out. So close was Tom that the unknown collided with him, and our hero went over on his back. The other person was tossed back by the force of the impact, but quickly recovered himself, and dashed away.

Not before, however, Tom had had a chance to glance at his face, and, to the chagrin of the young inventor, he recognized, by the dim light of a crescent moon, the countenance of Andy Foger! If additional evidence was needed Tom fully recognized the form as that of the town bully.

"Hold on there, Andy Foger!" shouted the young inventor. "What are you doing in my shed? What right have you in there? What did you do?"

Back came the answer through the night:

"I told you I'd get square with you. and I've done it," and then Andy's footsteps died away, while a mocking laugh floated back to Tom. What was Andy's revenge?