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Chapter One The Prize Offer
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 "Is this Tom Swift, the inventor of several airships?"
 
The man who had rung the bell glanced at the youth who answered his summons.
 
"Yes, I'm Tom Swift," was the reply. "Did you wish to see me?"
 
"I do. I'm Mr. James Gunmore, secretary of the Eagle Park Aviation Association. I had some correspondence with you about a prize contest we are going to hold. I believe—"
 
"Oh, yes, I remember now," and the young inventor smiled pleasantly as he opened wider the door of his home. "Won't you come in? My father will be glad to see you. He is as much interested in airships as I am." And Tom led the way to the library, where the secretary of the aviation society was soon seated in a big, comfortable leather chair.
 
"I thought we could do better, and perhaps come to some decision more quickly, if I came to see you, than if we corresponded," went on Mr. Gunmore. "I hope I haven't disturbed you at any of your inventions," and the secretary smiled at the youth.
 
"No. I'm through for to-day," replied Tom. "I'm glad to see you. I thought at first it was my chum, Ned Newton. He generally runs over in the evening."
 
"Our society, as I wrote you, Mr. Swift, is planning to hold a very large and important aviation meet at Eagle Park, which is a suburb of Westville, New York State. We expect to have all the prominent 'bird-men' there, to compete for prizes, and your name was mentioned. I wrote to you, as you doubtless recall, asking if you did not care to enter."
 
"And I think I wrote you that my big aeroplane-dirigible, the Red Cloud, was destroyed in Alaska, during a recent trip we made to the caves of ice there, after gold," replied Tom.
 
"Yes, you did," admitted Mr. Gunmore, "and while our committee was very sorry to hear that, we hoped you might have some other air craft that you could enter at our meet. We want to make it as complete as possible, and we all feel that it would not be so unless we had a Swift aeroplane there."
 
"It's very kind of you to say so," remarked Tom, "but since my big craft was destroyed I really have nothing I could enter."
 
"Haven't you an aeroplane of any kind? I made this trip especially to get you to enter. Haven't you anything in which you could compete for the prizes? There are several to be offered, some for distance flights, some for altitude, and the largest, ten thousand dollars, for the speediest craft. Ten thousand dollars is the grand prize, to be awarded for the quickest flight on record."
 
"I surely would like to try for that," said Tom, "but the only craft I have is a small monoplane, the Butterfly, I call it, and while it is very speedy, there have been such advances made in aeroplane construction since I made mine that I fear I would be distanced if I raced in her. And I wouldn't like that."
 
"No," agreed Mr. Gunmore. "I suppose not. Still, I do wish we could induce you to enter. I don't mind telling you that we consider you a drawing-card. Can't we induce you, some way?"
 
"I'm afraid not. I haven't any machine which—"
 
"Look here!" exclaimed the secretary eagerly. "Why can't you build a special aeroplane to enter in the next meet? You'll have plenty of time, as it doesn't come off for three months yet. We are only making the preliminary arrangements. It is now June, and the meet is scheduled for early in September. Couldn't you build a new and speedy aeroplane in that time?"
 
Eagerly Mr. Gunmore waited for the answer. Tom Swift seemed to be considering it. There was an increased brightness to his eyes, and one could tell that he was thinking deeply. The secretary sought to clinch2 his argument.
 
"I believe, from what I have heard of your work in the past, that you could build an aeroplane which would win the ten-thousand-dollar prize," he went on. "I would be very glad if you did win it, and, so I think, would be the gentlemen associated with me in this enterprise. It would be fine to have a New York State youth win the grand prize. Come, Tom Swift, build a special craft, and enter the contest!"
 
As he paused for an answer footsteps were heard coming along the hall, and a moment later an aged3 gentleman opened the door of the library.
 
"Oh! Excuse me, Tom," he said, "I didn't know you had company." And he was about to withdraw.
 
"Don't go, father," said Tom. "You will be as much interested in this as I am. This is Mr. Gunmore, of the Eagle Park Aviation Association. This is my father, Mr. Gunmore."
 
"I've heard of you," spoke4 the secretary as he shook hands with the aged inventor. "You and your son have made, in aeronautics5, a name to be proud of."
 
"And he wants us to go still farther, dad," broke in the youth. "He wants me to build a specially1 speedy aeroplane, and race for ten thousand dollars."
 
"Hum!" mused6 Mr. Swift. "Well, are you going to do it, Tom? Seems to me you ought to take a rest. You haven't been back from your gold-hunting trip to Alaska long enough to more than catch your breath, and now—"
 
"Oh, he doesn't have to go in this right away," eagerly explained Mr. Gunmore. "There is plenty of time to make a new craft."
 
"Well, Tom can do as he likes about it," said his father. "Do you think you could build anything speedier than your Butterfly, son?"
 
"I think so, father. That is, if you'd help me. I have a plan partly thought out, but it will take some time to finish it. Still, I might get it done in time."
 
"I hope you'll try!" exclaimed the secretary. "May I ask whether it would be a monoplane or a biplane?"
 
"A monoplane, I think," answered Tom. "They are much more speedy than the double-deckers, and if I'm going to try for the ten thousand dollars I need the fastest machine I can build."
 
"We have the promise of one or two very fast monoplanes for the meet," went on Mr. Gunmore. "Would yours be of a new type?"
 
"I think it would," was the reply of the young inventor. "In fact, I am thinking of making a smaller monoplane than any that have yet been constructed, and yet one that will carry two persons. The hardest work will be to make the engine light enough and still have it sufficiently7 powerful to make over a hundred miles an hour, if necessary.
 
"A hundred miles an hour in a small monoplane! It isn't possible!" cried the secretary.
 
"I'll make better time than that," said Tom quietly, and with not a trace of boasting in his tones.
 
"Then you'll enter the meet?" asked Mr. Gunmore eagerly.
 
"Well, I'll think about it," promised Tom. "I'll let you know in a few days. Meanwhile, I'll be thinking out the details for my new craft. I have been going to build one ever since I got back, after having seen my Red Cloud crushed in the ice cave. Now I think I had better begin active work."
 
"I hope you will soon let me know," resumed the secretary. "I'm going to put you down as a possible contestant8 for the ten-thousand-dollar prize. That can do no harm, and I hope you win it. I trust—"
 
He paused suddenly, and listened. So did Tom Swift and his father, for they all distinctly heard stealthy footsteps under the open windows of the library.
 
"Some one is out there, listening," said Tom in low tones.
 
"Perhaps it's Eradicate9 Sampson," suggested Mr. Swift, referring to the eccentric colored man who was employed by the inventor and his son to help around the place. "Very likely it was Eradicate, Tom."
 
"I don't think so," was the lad's answer. "He went to the village a while ago, and said he wouldn't be back until late to-night. He had to get some medicine for his mule10, Boomerang, who is sick. No, it wasn't Eradicate; but some one was under that window, trying to hear what we said."
 
As he spoke in guarded tones, Tom went softly to the casement11 and looked out. He could observe nothing, as the night was dark, and the new moon, which had been shining, was now dimmed by clouds.
 
"See anything?" asked Mr. Gunmore as he advanced to Tom's side.
 
"No," was the low answer. "I can't hear anything now, either."
 
"I'll go speak to Mrs. Baggert, the housekeeper," volunteered Mr. Swift. "Perhaps it was she, or she may know something about it."
 
He started from the room, and as he went Tom noticed, with something of a start, that his father appeared older that night than he had ever looked before. There was a trace of pain on the face of the aged inventor, and his step was lagging.
 
"I guess dad needs a rest and doctoring up," thought the young inventor as he turned the electric chandelier off by a button on the wall, in order to darken the room, so that he might peer out to better advantage. "I think he's been working too hard on his wireless12 motor. I must get Dr. Gladby to come over and see dad. But now I want to find out who that was under this window."
 
Once more Tom looked out. The moon had emerged from behind a thin bank of clouds, and gave a little light.
 
"See anything?" asked Mr. Gunmore cautiously.
 
"No," whispered the youth, for it being a warm might, the windows were open top and bottom, a screen on the outside keeping out mosquitoes and other insects. "I can't see a thing," went on Tom, "but I'm sure—"
 
He paused suddenly. As he spoke there sounded a rustling13 in the shrubbery a little distance from the window.
 
"There's something!" exclaimed Mr. Gunmore.
 
"I see!" answered the young inventor.
 
Without another word he softly opened the screen, and then, stooping down to get under the lower sash (for the windows in the library ran all the way to the floor), Tom dropped out of the casement upon the thick grass.
 
As he did so he was aware of a further movement in the bushes. They were violently agitated14, and a second later a dark object sprang from them and sprinted15 along the path.
 
"Here! Who are you? Hold on!" cried the young inventor.
 
But the figure never halted. Tom sprang forward, determined16 to see who it was, and, if possible, capture him.
 
"Hold on!" he cried again. There was no answer.
 
Tom was a good runner, and in a few seconds he had gained on the fugitive17, who could just be seen in the dim light from the crescent moon.
 
"I've got you!" cried Tom.
 
But he was mistaken, for at that instant his foot caught on the outcropping root of a tree, and the young inventor went flat on his face.
 
"Just my luck!" he cried.
 
He was quickly on his feet again, and took after the fugitive. The latter glanced back, and, as it happened, Tom had a good look at his face. He almost came to a stop, so startled was he.
 
"Andy Foger!" he exclaimed as he recognized the bully18 who had always proved himself such an enemy of our hero. "Andy Foger sneaking19 under my windows to hear what I had to say about my new aeroplane! I wonder what his game can be? I'll soon find out!"
 
Tom was about to resume the chase, when he lost sight of the figure. A moment later he heard the puffing20 of an automobile21, as some one cranked it up.
 
"It's too late!" exclaimed Tom. "There he goes in his car!" And knowing it would be useless to keep up the chase, the youth turned back toward his house.
 

点击收听单词发音收听单词发音  

1 specially Hviwq     
adv.特定地;特殊地;明确地
参考例句:
  • They are specially packaged so that they stack easily.它们经过特别包装以便于堆放。
  • The machine was designed specially for demolishing old buildings.这种机器是专为拆毁旧楼房而设计的。
2 clinch 4q5zc     
v.敲弯,钉牢;确定;扭住对方 [参]clench
参考例句:
  • Clinch the boards together.用钉子把木板钉牢在一起。
  • We don't accept us dollars,please Swiss francs to clinch a deal business.我方不收美元,请最好用瑞士法郎来成交生意。
3 aged 6zWzdI     
adj.年老的,陈年的
参考例句:
  • He had put on weight and aged a little.他胖了,也老点了。
  • He is aged,but his memory is still good.他已年老,然而记忆力还好。
4 spoke XryyC     
n.(车轮的)辐条;轮辐;破坏某人的计划;阻挠某人的行动 v.讲,谈(speak的过去式);说;演说;从某种观点来说
参考例句:
  • They sourced the spoke nuts from our company.他们的轮辐螺帽是从我们公司获得的。
  • The spokes of a wheel are the bars that connect the outer ring to the centre.辐条是轮子上连接外圈与中心的条棒。
5 aeronautics BKVyg     
n.航空术,航空学
参考例句:
  • National Aeronautics and Space undertakings have made great progress.国家的航空航天事业有了很大的发展。
  • He devoted every spare moment to aeronautics.他把他所有多余的时间用在航空学上。
6 mused 0affe9d5c3a243690cca6d4248d41a85     
v.沉思,冥想( muse的过去式和过去分词 );沉思自语说(某事)
参考例句:
  • \"I wonder if I shall ever see them again, \"he mused. “我不知道是否还可以再见到他们,”他沉思自问。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • \"Where are we going from here?\" mused one of Rutherford's guests. 卢瑟福的一位客人忍不住说道:‘我们这是在干什么?” 来自英汉非文学 - 科学史
7 sufficiently 0htzMB     
adv.足够地,充分地
参考例句:
  • It turned out he had not insured the house sufficiently.原来他没有给房屋投足保险。
  • The new policy was sufficiently elastic to accommodate both views.新政策充分灵活地适用两种观点。
8 contestant qp9zR     
n.竞争者,参加竞赛者
参考例句:
  • The company will furnish each contestant with a free ticket.公司将为每个参赛者免费提供一张票。
  • The personal appearance and interview of the contestant is another count.参加比赛者的个人仪表和谈话也是一项。
9 eradicate Ui1zn     
v.根除,消灭,杜绝
参考例句:
  • These insects are very difficult to eradicate.这些昆虫很难根除。
  • They are already battling to eradicate illnesses such as malaria and tetanus.他们已经在努力消灭疟疾、破伤风等疾病。
10 mule G6RzI     
n.骡子,杂种,执拗的人
参考例句:
  • A mule is a cross between a mare and a donkey.骡子是母马和公驴的杂交后代。
  • He is an old mule.他是个老顽固。
11 casement kw8zwr     
n.竖铰链窗;窗扉
参考例句:
  • A casement is a window that opens by means of hinges at the side.竖铰链窗是一种用边上的铰链开启的窗户。
  • With the casement half open,a cold breeze rushed inside.窗扉半开,凉风袭来。
12 wireless Rfwww     
adj.无线的;n.无线电
参考例句:
  • There are a lot of wireless links in a radio.收音机里有许多无线电线路。
  • Wireless messages tell us that the ship was sinking.无线电报告知我们那艘船正在下沉。
13 rustling c6f5c8086fbaf68296f60e8adb292798     
n. 瑟瑟声,沙沙声 adj. 发沙沙声的
参考例句:
  • the sound of the trees rustling in the breeze 树木在微风中发出的沙沙声
  • the soft rustling of leaves 树叶柔和的沙沙声
14 agitated dzgzc2     
adj.被鼓动的,不安的
参考例句:
  • His answers were all mixed up,so agitated was he.他是那样心神不定,回答全乱了。
  • She was agitated because her train was an hour late.她乘坐的火车晚点一个小时,她十分焦虑。
15 sprinted cbad7fd28d99bfe76a3766a4dd081936     
v.短距离疾跑( sprint的过去式和过去分词 )
参考例句:
  • He sprinted for the line. 他向终点线冲去。
  • Sergeant Horne sprinted to the car. 霍恩中士全力冲向那辆汽车。 来自辞典例句
16 determined duszmP     
adj.坚定的;有决心的
参考例句:
  • I have determined on going to Tibet after graduation.我已决定毕业后去西藏。
  • He determined to view the rooms behind the office.他决定查看一下办公室后面的房间。
17 fugitive bhHxh     
adj.逃亡的,易逝的;n.逃犯,逃亡者
参考例句:
  • The police were able to deduce where the fugitive was hiding.警方成功地推断出那逃亡者躲藏的地方。
  • The fugitive is believed to be headed for the border.逃犯被认为在向国境线逃窜。
18 bully bully     
n.恃强欺弱者,小流氓;vt.威胁,欺侮
参考例句:
  • A bully is always a coward.暴汉常是懦夫。
  • The boy gave the bully a pelt on the back with a pebble.那男孩用石子掷击小流氓的背脊。
19 sneaking iibzMu     
a.秘密的,不公开的
参考例句:
  • She had always had a sneaking affection for him. 以前她一直暗暗倾心于他。
  • She ducked the interviewers by sneaking out the back door. 她从后门偷偷溜走,躲开采访者。
20 puffing b3a737211571a681caa80669a39d25d3     
v.使喷出( puff的现在分词 );喷着汽(或烟)移动;吹嘘;吹捧
参考例句:
  • He was puffing hard when he jumped on to the bus. 他跳上公共汽车时喘息不已。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
  • My father sat puffing contentedly on his pipe. 父亲坐着心满意足地抽着烟斗。 来自《简明英汉词典》
21 automobile rP1yv     
n.汽车,机动车
参考例句:
  • He is repairing the brake lever of an automobile.他正在修理汽车的刹车杆。
  • The automobile slowed down to go around the curves in the road.汽车在路上转弯时放慢了速度。


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