Chapter III. Tom MakeS Up His Mind
 

"Great Scott!" yelled the picture man. "What in the world happened to me? Did I get kicked by that mule Boomerang of Eradicate's, that I've heard so much about? Or was it an earthquake, such as I want to get a picture of? What happened?"

He was still floundering about in the deep bank of snow that was just outside the window. Fortunately the sash had been up, and Koku had tossed Mr. Period through the open window. Otherwise, had there been glass, the well-meaning, but unreasoning giant would probably have thrown his victim through that, and he might have been badly cut. Tom had the window open for fresh air, as it was rather close in the shop.

"Why, Koku!" exclaimed the young inventor, as he leaned out of the window, and extended his hand to the moving picture man to help him out of the drift. "What do von mean by that?" Have you gone crazy?"

"No, but no one shall lay hands on my master!" declared the giant half savagely. "I have vowed to always protect you from danger, in return for what you did for me. I saw this man lay his hand on you. In another moment he might have killed you, had not Koku been here. There is no danger when I am by," and he stretched out his huge arms, and looked ferocious. "I have turned over that man, your enemy!" he added.

"Yes, you overturned me all right," admitted Mr. Period, as he got to his feet, and crawled in through the window to the shop again. "I went head over heels. I'm glad it was clean snow, and not a mud bank, Tom. What in the world is the matter with him?"

"I guess he thought you were going to harm me, said Tom in a low voice, as the picture man came in the shop. "Koku is very devoted to me, and sometimes he makes trouble," the youth went on. "But he means it all for the best. I am very sorry for what happened," and Tom aided Mr. Period in brushing the snow off his garments. "Koku, you must beg the pardon of this gentleman," Tom directed.

"What for?" the giant wanted to know.

"For throwing him into the snow. It is not allowed to do such things in this country, even though it is in Giant Land. Beg his pardon.

"I shall not," said the giant calmly, for Tom had taught him to speak fairly good English, though sometimes he got his words backwards.

"The man was about to kill you, and I stopped him--I will stop him once more, though if he does not like the snow, I can throw him somewhere else."

"No! No! You must not do it!" cried Tom. "He meant no harm. He is my friend."

"I am glad to hear you say that," exclaimed the picture man. "I have hopes that you will do what I want."

"He your friend?" asked Koku wonderingly. "Certainly; and you must beg his pardon for what you did," insisted Tom.

"Very well. I am glad you did not hurt yourself," said the giant, and with that "apology" he stalked out of the room, his feelings evidently very much disturbed.

"Ha! Ha!" laughed Mr. Period. "I guess he can't see any one but you, Tom. But never mind. I know he didn't mean anything, and, as I'm none the worse I'll forgive him. My necktie isn't spotted; is it?"

"No, the snow didn't seem to do that any harm," replied the young inventor, as he looked at the brilliant piece of red silk around Mr. Period's collar.

"I am very particular about my neckties," went on the picture man. "I always wear one color. My friends never forget me then."

Tom wondered how they could ever forget him, even though he wore no tie, for his figure and face were such as to not easily be forgotten.

"I'm glad it's not soiled," went on "Spotty" as he liked to be called. "Now, Tom, you said you were my friend. Prove it by accepting my offer. Build that wizard camera, and get me some moving pictures that will be a sensation. Say you will!"

He looked appealingly at Tom, and, remembering the rather rude and unexpected treatment to which Koku had submitted the gentleman, Tom felt his mind changing. Still he was not yet ready to give in. He rather liked the idea the more he thought of it, but he felt that he had other duties, and much to occupy him at home, especially if he perfected his silent motor.

"Will you go?" asked Mr. Period, picking up his fountain pen and check book, that he had laid aside when he walked over to Tom, just before the giant grasped him. "Say you will."

The young inventor was silent a moment. He thought over the many adventures he had gone through--in the caves of ice, in the city of gold, escaping from the giants, and the red pygmies--He went over the details of his trips through the air, of the dangers under the seas, of those he had escaped from on Earthquake Island. Surely e was entitled to a little rest at home.

And yet there was a lure to it all. A certain fascination that was hard to resist. Mr. Period must have seen what was going on in Tom's mind, for he said:

"I know you're going. I can see it. Why, it will be just the very thing you need. You'll get more fame out of this thing than from any of your other inventions. Come, say you'll do it.

"I'll tell you what I'll do !" he went on eagerly. "After you make the camera, and take a lot of films, showing strange and wonderful scenes, I'll put at the end of each film, next to my picture, your name, and a statement showing that you took the originals. How's that? Talk about being advertised! Why you can't beat it! Millions of people will read your name at the picture shows every night."

"I am not looking for advertisements," said Tom, with a laugh.

"Well, then, think of the benefit you will be to science," went on Mr. Period quickly. "Think of the few people who have seen wild animals as they are, of those who have ever seen an earth- quake, or a volcano in action. You can go to Japan, and get pictures of earthquakes. They have them on tap there. And as for volcanoes, why the Andes mountains are full of 'em. Think of how many people will be thankful to you for showing them these wonderful scenes."

"And think of what might happen if I should take a tumble into a crack in the earth, or down a hot volcano, or fall into a jungle when there was a fight on among the elephants," suggested Tom. "My airship might take a notion to go down when I was doing the photographing," he added.

"No. Nothing like that will happen to Tom Swift," was the confident answer of the picture man. "I've read of your doings. You don't have accidents that you can't get the better of. But come, I know you're thinking of it, and I'm sure you'll go. Let me make you out this check, sign a contract which I have all ready, and then get to work on the camera."

Tom was silent a moment. Then he said:

"Well, I admit that there is something attractive about it. I hoped I was going to stay home. for a long time. But--"

"Then you'll go!" cried Mr. Period eagerly. "Here's the money," and he quickly filled out a check for Tom's first expenses, holding the slip of paper toward the young inventor.

"Wait a minute! Hold on!" cried Tom. "Not so fast if you please. I haven't yet made up my mind."

"But you will; won't you?" asked Mr. Period.

"Well, I'll make up my mind, one way or the other," replied the young man. "I won't say I'll go, but--"

"I'll tell you what I'll do!" interrupted Mr. Period. "I'm a busy man, and every second is worth money to me. But I'll wait for you to make up your mind. I'll give you until to-morrow night. How's that? Fair, isn't it?"

"Yes--I think so. I am afraid--"

"I'm not!" broke in the picture man. "I know you'll decide to go. Think of the fun and excitement you'll have. Now I've taken up a lot of your time, and I'm going to leave you alone. I'll be back tomorrow evening for my answer. But I know you're going to get those moving pictures for me. Is that giant of yours anywhere about?" he asked, as he looked cautiously around before leaving the shop. "I don't want to fall into his hands again."

"I don't blame you," agreed Tom. "I never knew him to act that way before. But I'll go to the gate with you, and Koku will behave him self. I am sorry--"

"Don't mention it !" broke in the picture man. "It was worth all I suffered, if you go, and I know you will. Don't trouble yourself to come out. I can find my way, and if your giant comes after me, I'll call for help."

He hurried out before Tom could follow, and, hearing the gate click a little later, and no call for help coming, our hero concluded that his visitor had gotten safely away.

"Well, what am I going to do about it?" mused Tom, as he resumed work on his silent motor. He had not been long engaged in readjusting some of the valves, when he was again interrupted.

This time it was his chum, Ned Newton, who entered, and, as Ned was well known to the giant, nothing happened.

"Well, what's up, Tom?" asked Ned.

"Why, did you notice anything unusual?" asked Tom.

"I saw Koku standing at the gate a while ago, looking down the road at a short stout man, with a red tie. Your giant seemed rather excited about something."

"Oh, yes. I'll tell you about it," and Tom related the details of Mr. Period's visit.

"Are you going to take his offer?" asked Ned.

"I've got until tomorrow to make up my mind. What would you do, Ned?"

"Why, I'd take it in a minute, if I knew how to make an electric camera. I suppose it has to be a very speedy one, to take the kind of pictures he wants. Wait, hold on, I've just thought of a joke. It must be a swift camera--catch on--you're Swift, and you make a swift camera; see the point?"

"I do," confessed Tom, with a laugh. "Well, Ned, I've been thinking it over, but I can't decide right away. I will tomorrow night, though."

"Then I'm coming over, and hear what it is. If you decide to go, maybe you'll take me along."

"I certainly will, and Mr. Damon, too."

"How about the giant?"

"Well, I guess there'll be room for him. But I haven't decided yet. Hand me that wrench over there; will you," and then Tom and Ned began talking about the new apparatus on which the young inventor was working.

True to his promise Mr. Period called the next evening. He found Tom, Ned and Mr. Swift in the library, talking over various matters.

"Well, Tom, have you made up your mind?" asked the caller, when Mrs. Baggert, the housekeeper, had shown him into the room. "I hope you have, and I hope it is favorable to me."

"Yes," said Tom slowly, "I've thought it all over, and I have decided that I will--"

At that moment there was a loud shouting outside the house, and the sound of some one running rapidly through the garden that was just outside the low library window--a garden now buried deep under snow.

"What's that?" cried Ned, jumping to his feet.

"That was Koku's voice," replied Tom, "and I guess he was chasing after some one."

"They'll need help if that giant gets hold of them," spoke Mr. Period solemnly, while the noise outside increased in volume.