Chapter IX. Mr. Swift is Alarmed
 

"Don't you feel better already, dad?" asked Tom that noon as they stopped under a leaning, overhanging tree for lunch on the shore of the lake. "I'll leave it to Ned if you don't look more contented and less worried."

"I believe he does," agreed the other lad. "Well, I must say I certainly have enjoyed the outing so far," admitted the inventor with a smile. "And I haven't been bothering about my gyroscope. I think I'll take another sandwich, Tom, and a few more olives."

"That's the way to talk!" cried the son. "Your appetite is improving, too. If Mrs. Baggert could see you she'd say so."

"Oh, yes, Mrs. Baggert. I do hope she and Garret will look after the house and shops well," said Mr. Swift, and the old, worried look came like a shadow over his face.

"Now don't be thinking of that, dad," advised Tom, "Of course everything will be all right. Do you think some of those model thieves will return and try to get some of your other inventions?"

"I don't know, Tom. Those men were unscrupulous scoundrels, and you can never tell what they might do to revenge themselves on us for defeating their plans."

"Well, I guess Garret and Mrs. Baggert will look out for them," remarked his son. "Don't worry."

"Yes, it's bad for the digestion," added Ned. "If you don't mind, Tom, I'll have some more coffee and another sandwich myself."

"Nothing the matter with your appetite, either," commented the young inventor as he passed the coffee pot and the plate.

They were soon on their way again, the Arrow making good time up the lake. Tom was at the engine, making several minor adjustments to it, while Ned steered. Mr. Swift reclined on one of the cushioned seats under the shade of the canopy. The young owner of the Arrow looked over the stretch of water from time to time for a possible sight of Andy Foger, but the Red Streak was not to be seen. The Lakeview Hotel was reached late that afternoon and the boat was tied up to the dock, while Tom and Ned accompanied Mr. Swift to see him comfortably established in his room.

"Won't you stay to supper with me?" invited the inventor to his son and the latter's chum. "Or do you want to start right in on camp life?"

"I guess we'll stay to supper and remain at the hotel to-night," decided Tom. "We got here a little later than I expected, and Ned and I hardly have time to go very far and establish a temporary camp. We'll live a life of luxurious ease to-night and begin to be 'wanderlusters' and get back to nature to-morrow."

In the morning Tom and his chum, full of enthusiasm for the pleasures before them, started off, promising to come back to the hotel in a few days to see how Mr. Swift felt. The trip had already done the man good and his face wore a brighter look.

Tom and Ned, in the speedy Arrow, cruised along the lakeshores all that morning. At noon they, went ashore, made a temporary camp and arranged to spend the night there in the tent. After this was erected they got out their fishing tackle and passed the afternoon at that sport, having such good luck that they provided their own supper without having to depend on canned stuff.

They lived this life for three days, making a new camp each night, being favored with good weather, so that they did not have to sleep in the boat to keep dry. ' On the afternoon of the third day Tom, with a critical glance at the sky, remarked:

"I shouldn't be surprised if it rained to-morrow, Ned."

"Me either. It does look sort of hazy, and the wind is in a bad quarter."

"Then what do you say to heading for the hotel? I fancy dad will be glad to see us." "That suits me. We can start camp life again after the storm passes."

They started for Sandport that afternoon. When within about two miles of the hotel dock Tom saw, just ahead of them, a small motor-boat. Ned observed it too and called out:

"S'pose that's Andy looking for another race?"

"No, the boat's too small for his. We'll put over that way and see who it is."

The other craft did not appear to be moving very rapidly and the Arrow was soon overhauling it. As the two chums came nearer they could hear the puffing of the motor. Tom listened with critical ears.

"That machine isn't working right," he remarked to his chum.

At that moment there sounded a loud explosion from the other boat and at the same time there came over the water a shrill cry of alarm. "That's a girl in that boat!" exclaimed Ned. "Maybe she's hurt."

"No, the motor only backfired," observed Tom. "But we'll go over and see if we can help her. Perhaps she doesn't understand it. Girls don't know much about machinery."

A little later the Arrow shot up alongside the other craft, which had come to a stop. The two lads could see a girl bending over the motor, twirling the flywheel and trying to get it started. "Can I help you?" asked Tom, shutting off the power from his craft.

The young lady glanced up. Her face was red and she seemed ill at ease. At the sight of the young inventor she uttered an exclamation of relief.

"Why, Mr. Swift!" she cried. "Oh, I'm in such trouble. I can't make the machine work, and I'm afraid it's broken; it exploded."

"Miss Nestor!" blurted out Tom, more surprised evidently to see his acquaintance of the runaway again than she was at beholding him. "I didn't know you ran a motor-boat," he added. "I don't," said she simply and helplessly. "That's the trouble, it won't run."

"How comes it that you are up here?" went on Tom.

"I am stopping with friends, who have a cottage near the Lakeview Hotel. They have a motor-boat and I got Dick Blythe---he's the owner of this---to show me how to run it. I thought I knew, and I started out a little while ago. At first it went beautifully, but a few minutes ago it blew up, or---or something dreadful happened."

"Nothing very dreadful, I guess," Tom assured her. "I think I can fix it." He got into the other boat and soon saw what the trouble was. The carburetor had gotten out of adjustment and the gasoline was not feeding properly. The young inventor soon had it in order, and, testing the motor, found that it worked perfectly.

"Oh, I can't thank you enough," cried Miss Nestor with a flash from her brown eyes that made Tom's heart beat double time. "I was afraid I had damaged the boat, and I knew Dick, who is a sort of second cousin of mine, would never forgive me."

"There's no harm done," Tom assured her. "But you had better keep near us on your way back, that is, if you are going back."

"Oh, indeed I am. I was frightened when I found I'd come so far away from shore, and then, when that explosion took place---well, you can imagine how I felt. Indeed I will keep near you. Are you stopping near here? If you are, I wish you'd come and see me, you and Mr. Newton" she added, for Tom had introduced his chum.

"I'll be very glad to," answered our hero, and he told how he happened to be in the neighborhood. "I'll give you a few lessons in managing a boat, if you like," he added.

"Oh, will you? That will be lovely! I won't tell Dick about it, and I'll surprise him some day by showing him how well I can run his boat."

"Good idea," commented Tom.

He started the motor for Miss Nestor, having stopped it after his first test, and then, with the Dot, which was the name of the small boat Miss Nestor was in, following the larger Arrow, the run back to the hotel was made. The young lady turned off near the Lakeview dock to go to the cottage where she was stopping and the lads tied up at the hotel boathouse.

"Yes, we are in for a storm," remarked Tom as he and his chum walked up toward the hotel. "I wonder how dad is? I hope the outing is doing him good."

"There he comes now," observed Ned, and, looking up, Tom saw his father approaching. The young inventor was at once struck by the expression on his parent's face. Mr. Swift looked worried and Tom anxiously hastened forward to meet him.

"What's the matter dad?" he asked as cheerfully as he could. "Have you been figuring over that gyroscope problem again, against my express orders?" and be laughed a little.

"No, Tom, it's not the gyroscope that's worrying me."

"What is it then?"

"Those scoundrels are around again, Tom!" and Mr. Swift looked apprehensively about him.

"You mean the men who stole the turbine model?"

"Yes. I was walking in the woods near the hotel yesterday and I saw Anson Morse. He did not see me, for I turned aside as quickly as I had a glimpse of him. He was talking to another man."

"What sort of a man?"

"Well, an ordinary enough individual, but I noticed that he had tattooed on the little finger of his left hand a blue ring."

"Happy Harry, the tramp!" exclaimed Tom. "What can he and Morse be doing here?"

"I don't know, Tom, but I'm worried. I wish I was back home. I'm afraid something may happen to some of my inventions. I want to go back to Shopton, Tom."

"Nonsense, dad. Don't worry just because you saw some of your former enemies. Everything is all right at home. Mrs. Baggert and Garret Jackson will look after things. But, if you like, I, can find out for you how matters are."

"How, Tom?"

"By taking a run down there in my motor-boat. I can do it to- morrow and get back by night, if I start early. Then you will not worry."

"All right, Tom; I wish you would. Come up to my room and we will talk it over. I'd rather leave you go than telephone, as I don't like to talk of my business over the wire if I can avoid it."