Friday, October 5, 2007



Seeking the Platinum Treasure
I A Breakdown
II A Daring Project
III The Hand of the Czar
IV The Search
V A Clew from Russia
VI Rescuing Mr. Petrofsky
VII The Air Glider
VIII In a Great Gale
IIX The Spies
X Off in the Airship
XI A Storm at Sea
XII An Accident
XIII Seeking a Quarrel
XIV Hurried Flight
XV Pursued
XVI The Nihlists
XVII On to Siberia
XVIII In a Russian Prison
XIX Lost in a Salt Mine
XX The Escape
XXI The Rescue
XXII In the Hurricane
XXIII The Lost Mine
XXIV The Leaking Tanks
XXV Homeward Bound--Conclusion
"Well, Ned, are you ready?"
"Oh, I suppose so, Tom. As ready as I ever shall be."
"Why, Ned Newton, you're not getting afraid; are you? And
after you've been on so many trips with me?"
"No, it isn't exactly that, Tom. I'd go in a minute if you
didn't have this new fangled thing on your airship. But how
do you know how it's going to work--or whether it will work
at all? We may come a cropper."
"Bless my insurance policy!" exclaimed a man who was
standing near the two lads who were conversing. "You'd
better keep near the ground, Tom."
"Oh, that's all right, Mr. Damon," answered Tom Swift.
"There isn't any more danger than there ever was, but I
guess Ned is nervous since our trip to the underground city
of gold."
"I am not!" indignantly exclaimed the other lad, with a
look at the young inventor. "But you know yourself, Tom,
that putting this new propeller on your airship, changing
the wing tips, and re-gearing the motor has made an
altogether different sort of a craft of it. You, yourself,
said it wasn't as reliable as before, even though it does go
"Now look here, Ned!" burst out Tom. "That was last week
that I said it wasn't reliable. It is now, for I've tried it
out several times, and yet, when I ask you to take a trip
with me, to act as ballast--"
"Is that all you want me for, Tom, to act as ballast? Then
you'd better take a bag of sand--or Mr. Damon here!"
"Me? I guess not! Bless my diamond ring! My wife hasn't
forgiven me for going off on that last trip with you, Tom,
and I'm not going to take any more right away. But I don't
blame Ned--"
"Say, look here!" cried Tom, a little out of patience,
"you know me better than that, Ned. Of course your more than
ballast--I want you to help me manage the craft since I made
the changes on her. Now if you don't want to come, why say
so, and I'll get Eradicate. I don't believe he'll be afraid,
even if he--"
"Hold on dar now, Massa Tom!" exclaimed an aged colored
man, who was an all around helper at the Swift homestead,
"was yo' referencin' t' me when yo' spoke?"
"Yes, Rad, I was saying that if Ned wouldn't go up in the
airship with me you would."
"Well, now, Masa Tom, I shorely would laik t' 'blige yo',
I shore would. But de fack ob de mattah am dat I has a mos'
particular job ob white washin' t' do dish mornin', an' I
'spects I'd better be gittin' at it. It's a mos' particiilar
job, an', only fo' dat, I'd be mos' pleased t' go up in de
airship. But as it am, I mus' ax yo' t' 'scuse me, I really
mus'," and the colored man shuffled off at a faster gait
than he was in the habit of using.
"Well, of all things!" gasped Tom. "I believe you're all
afraid of the old airship, just because I wade some changes
in her. I'll go up alone, that's what I will."
"No, I'll go with you," interposed Ned Newton who was
Tom's most particular chum. "I only wanted to be sure it was
all right, that was all."
"Well, if you've fully made up your mind," went on the
young inventor, a little mollified, "lend me a hand to get
her in shape for a run. I expect to make faster time than I
ever did before, and I'm going to head out Waterford way.
You'd better come along, Mr. Damon, and I'll drop you off at
your house."
"Bless my feather bed!" gasped the man. "Drop me off! I
like that, Tom Swift!"
"Oh, I didn't mean it exactly that way," laughed Tom. "But
will you come."
"No, thanks, I'm going home by trolley," and then as the
odd man went in the house to speak to Tom's father, the two
lads busied themselves about the airship.
This was a large aeroplane, one of the largest Tom Swift
had ever constructed, and he was a lad who had invented many
kinds of machinery besides crafts for navigating the upper
regions. It was not as large as his combined aeroplane and
dirigible balloon of which I have told you in other books,
but it was of sufficient size to carry three persons besides
other weight.
Tom had built it some years before, and it had seemed good
enough then. Later he constructed some of different models,
besides the big combination affair, and he had gone on
several trips in that.
He and his chum Ned, together with Eradicate Sampson, the
colored man, and Mr. Damon, had been to a wonderful
underground city of gold in Mexico, and it was soon after
their return from this perilous trip that Tom had begun the
work of changing his old aeroplane into a speedier craft.
This had occupied him most of the Winter, and now that
Spring had come he had a chance to try what a re-built
motor, changed propellers, and different wing tips would do
for the machine.
The time had come for the test and, as we have seen, Tom
had some difficulty in persuading anyone to go along with
him? But Ned finally got over his feeling of nervousness.
"Understand, Tom," spoke Ned, "it isn't because I don't
think you know how to work an aeroplane that I hesitated.
I've been up in the air with you enough times to know that
you're there with the goods, but I don't believe even you
know what this machine is going to do."
"I can pretty nearly tell. I'm sure my theory is right."
"I don't doubt that. But will it work out in practice?"
"She may not make all the speed I hope she will, and I may
not be able to push her high into the air quicker than I
used to before I made the changes," admitted Tom, "but I'm
sure of one thing. She'll fly, and she won't come down until
I'm ready to let her. So you needn't worry about getting
"All right--if you say so. Now what do you want me to do,
"Go over the wire guys and stays for the first thing.
There's going to be lots of vibration, with the re-built
motor, and I want everything tight."
"Aye, aye, sir!" answered Ned with a laugh.
Then he set at his task, tightening the small nuts, and
screwing up the turn-buckles, while Tom busied himself over
the motor. There was some small trouble with the carburetor
that needed eliminating before it would feed properly.
"How about the tires?" asked Ned, when he had finished the
"You might pump them up. There, the motor is all right.
I'm going to try it now, while you attend to the tires."
Ned had pumped up one of the rubber circlets of the small
bicycle wheels on which the aeroplane rested, and was
beginning on the second, when a noise like a battery of
machine guns going off next to his ear startled him so that
he jumped, tripped over a stone and went down, the air pump
thumping him in the back.
"What in the world happened, Tom?" he yelled, for he had
to use all his lung power to be heard above that racket.
"Did it explode?"
"Explode nothing!" shouted Tom. "That's the re-built motor
in action."
"In action! I should say it was in action. Is it always
going to roar like that?"
Indeed the motor was roaring away, spitting fire and burnt
gases from the exhaust pipe, and enveloping the aeroplane in
a whitish haze of choking smoke.
No, I have the muffler cut out, and that's why she barks
so. But she runs easier that way, and I want to get her
smoothed out a bit.
"Whew! That smoke!" gasped his chum. "Why don't you--whew-
-this is more than I can stand," and holding his hands to
his smarting eyes, Ned, gasping and choking, staggered away
to where the air was better.
"It is sort of thick," admitted Tom. "But that's only
because she's getting too much oil. She'll clear in a few
minutes. Stick around and we'll go up."
Despite the choking vapor, the young inventor stuck to his
task of regulating the motor, and in a short while the smoke
became less, while the big propeller blades whirled about
more evenly. Then Tom adjusted the muffler, and most of the
noise stopped.
"Come on back, and finish pumping up the tires," he
shouted to Ned. "I'm going to stop her now, and then I'll
give her the pressure test, and we'll take a trip."
Having cleared his eyes of smoke, Ned came back to his
task, and this having been finished, Tom attached a heavy
spring balance, or scales, to the rope that held the airship
back from moving when her propellers were whirling about.
"How much pressure do you want?" asked Ned.
"I ought to get above twelve hundred With the way the
motor is geared, but I'll go up with ten. Watch the needle
for me."
It may be explained that when aeroplanes are tested on the
earth the propellers are set in motion. This of course would
send a craft whizzing over the ground, eventually to rise in
the air, but for the fact that a rope, attached to the
craft, and to some stationary object, holds it back.
Now if this rope is hooked to a spring balance, which in
turn is made fast to the stationary object, the "thrust" of
the propellers will be registered in pounds on the scale of
the balance. Anywhere from five hundred to nine hundred
pounds of thrust will take a monoplane or biplane up. But
Tom wanted more than this.
Once more the motor coughed and spluttered, and the big
blades whirled about so fast that they seemed like solid
pieces of wood. Tom stood on the ground near the levers
which controlled the speed, and Ned watched the scale.
"How much?" yelled the young inventor.
"Eight hundred."
Tom turned on a little more gasolene.
"How much?" he cried again.
"Ten hundred. That'll do!"
"No, I'm going to try for more.
Again he advanced the spark and gasolene levers, and the
comparatively frail craft vibrated so that it seemed as if
she would fly apart.
"Now?" yelled Tom.
"Eleven hundred and fifty!" cried Ned.
"Good! That'll do it. She'll give more after she's been
running a while. We'll go up."
Ned scrambled to his seat, and Tom followed. He had an
arrangement so that he could slip loose the retaining rope
from his perch whenever he was ready.
Waiting until the motor had run another minute, the young
inventor pulled the rope that released them. Over the
smooth starting ground that formed a part of the Swift
homestead darted the aeroplane. Faster and faster she moved,
Ned gripping the sides of his seat.
"Here we go!" cried Tom, and the next instant they shot up
into the air.
Ned Newton had ridden many times with his chum Tom, and
the sensation of gliding through the upper regions was not
new to him. But this time there was something different. The
propellers seemed to take hold of the air with a firmer
grip. There was more power, and certainly the speed was
"We're going fast!" yelled Ned into Tom's ear.
"That's right," agreed the young inventor. "She'll beat
anything but my Sky Racer, and she'd do that if she was the
same size." Tom referred to a very small aeroplane he had
made some time before. It was like some big bird, and very
Up and onward went the remodeled airship, faster and
faster, until, when several miles had been covered, Ned
realized that the young inventor had achieved another
"It's great, Tom! Great!" he yelled.
"Yes, I guess it will do, Ned. I'm satisfied. If there was
an international meet now I'd capture some of the prizes. As
it is--"
Tom stopped suddenly. His voice which had been raised to
overcome the noise of even the muffled motor, sounded
unnaturally loud, and no wonder, for the engine had ceased
"What's the matter?" gasped Ned.
"I don't know--a breakdown of some kind."
"Can you get it going again?"
"I'm going to try."
Tom was manipulating various levers, but with no effect.
The aeroplane was shooting downward with frightful rapidity.
"No use!" exclaimed the young inventor. "Something has
"But We're falling, Tom!"
"I know it. We've done it before. I'm going to volplane to
This, it may be explained, is gliding downward from a
height with the engine shut off. Aeroplanists often do it,
and Tom was no novice at the art.
They shot downward with less speed now, for the young
inventor had thrown up his headplanes to act as a sort of
brake. Then, a little later they made a good landing in a
field near a small house, in a rather lonely stretch of
country, about ten miles from Shopton, where Tom lived.
"Now to see what the trouble is," remarked our hero, as he
climbed out of his seat and began looking over the engine.
He poked in among the numerous cogs, wheels and levers, and
finally uttered an exclamation.
"Find it?" asked Ned.
"Yes, it's in the magneto. All the platinum bearings and
contact surfaces have fused and crystallized. I never saw
such poor platinum as I've been getting lately, and I pay
the highest prices for it, too. The trouble is that the
supply of platinum is giving out, and they'll have to find a
substitute I guess."
"Can't we go home in her?" asked Ned.
"I'm afraid not. I've got to put in new platinum bearings
and contacts before she'll spark. I only wish I could get
hold of some of the better kind of metal."
The magneto of an aeroplane performs a service similar to
one in an automobile. It provides the spark that explodes
the charge of gas in the cylinders, and platinum is a metal,
more valuable now than gold, much used in the delicate parts
of the magneto.
"Well, I guess it's walk for ours," said Ned ruefully.
"I'm afraid so," went on Tom. "If I only had some
platinum, I could--"
"Perhaps I could be of service to you," suddenly spoke a
voice behind them, and turning, the youths saw a tall,
bearded man, who had evidently come from the lonely house.
"Did I hear you say you needed some platinum?" he asked. He
spoke with a foreign accent, and Tom at once put him down
for a Russian.
"Yes, I need some for my magneto," began the young
"If you will kindly step up to my house, perhaps I can
give you what you want," went on the man. "My name is Ivan
Petrofsky, and I have only lately come to live here."
"I'm Tom Swift, of Shopton, and this is my chum, Ned
Newton," replied the young inventor, completing the
introductions. He was wondering why the man, who seemed a
cultured gentleman, should live in such a lonely place, and
he was wondering too how he happened to have some platinum.
"Will that answer?" asked Mr. Petrofsky, when they had
reached his house, and he had handed Tom several strips of
the precious silverlike metal.
"Do? I should say it would! My, but that is the best
platinum I've seen in a long while!" exclaimed Tom, who was
an expert judge of this metal. "Where did you get it, if I
may ask?"
"It came from a lost mine in Siberia," was the unexpected
"A lost mine?" gasped Tom.
"In Siberia?" added Ned.
Mr. Petrofsky slowly nodded his head, and smiled, but
rather sadly.
"A lost mine," he said slowly, "and if it could be found I
would be the happiest man on earth for I would then be able
to locate and save my brother, who is one of the Czar's
exiles," and he seemed shaken by emotion.
Tom and Ned stood looking at the bearded man, and then the
young inventor glanced at the platinum strips in his hand
while a strange and daring thought came to him.
While Tom and his chum are in the house of the Russian,
who so strangely produced the platinum just when it was most
needed, I am going to take just a little time to tell you
something about the hero of this story. Those who have read
the previous books of this series need no introduction to
him, but in justice to my new readers I must make a little
Tom Swift was an inventor, as was his father before him.
But Mr. Swift was getting too old, now, to do much, though
he had a pet invention--that of a gyroscope--on which he
worked from time to time. Tom lived with his father in the
village of Shopton, in New York state. His mother was dead,
but a housekeeper, named Mrs. Baggert, looked after the
wants of the inventors, young and old.
The first book of the series was called "Tom Swift and His
Motor-Cycle," and in that I related how Tom bought the
machine from a Mr. Wakefield Damon, of Waterford, after the
odd gentleman had unintentionally started to climb a tree
with it. That disgusted Mr. Damon with motor-cycling, and
Tom had lots of fun on the machine, and not a few daring
He and Mr. Damon became firm friends, and the oddity of
the gentleman--mainly that of blessing everything he could
think of--was no objection in Tom's mind. The young inventor
and Ned Newton went on many trips together, Mr. Damon being
one of the party.
In Shopton lived Andy Foger, a bullying sort of a chap,
who acted very meanly toward Tom at times. Another resident
of the town was a Mr. Nestor, but Tom was more interested in
his daughter Mary than in the head of the household. Add
Eradicate Sampson, an eccentric colored man who said he got
his name because he "eradicated" dirt, and his mule,
Boomerang, and I think you have met the principal characters
of these stories.
After Tom had much enjoyment out of his motor-cycle, he
got a motor boat, and one of his rivals on Lake Carlopa was
this same Andy Foger, but our hero vanquished him. Then Tom
built an airship, which had been the height of his ambition
for some years. He had a stirring cruise in the Red Cloud,
and then, deserting the air for the water, Tom and his
father built a submarine, in which they went after sunken
treasure. In the book, "Tom Swift and His Electric
Runabout," I told how, in the speediest car on the road, Tom
saved his father's bank from ruin, and in the book dealing
with Tom's wireless message I related how he saved the
Castaways of Earthquake Island.
When Tom went among the diamond makers, at the request of
Mr. Barco Jenks, and discovered the secret of phantom
mountain the lad fancied that might be the end of his
adventures, but there were more to follow. Going to the
caves of ice, his airship was wrecked, but he and his
friends managed to get back home, and then it was that the
young inventor perfected his sky racer, in which he made the
quickest flight on record.
Most startling were his adventures in elephant land
whither he went with his electric rifle, and he was the
means of saving a missionary, Mr. Illingway and his wife,
from the red pygmies.
Tom had not been home from Africa long before he got a
letter from this missionary, telling about an underground
City in Mexico that was said to be filled with gold. Tom
went there, and in the book, entitled, "Tom Swift in the
City of Gold," I related his adventures.
How he and his friends were followed by the Fogers, how
they eluded them, made their way to the ruined temple in a
small dirigible balloon, descended to the secret tunnel,
managed to turn aside the underground river, and reach the
city of gold with its wonderful gold statues--all this is
told in the volume.
Then, after pulling down, in the centre of the underground
city, the big golden statue, the door of rock descended, and
made our friends prisoners. They almost died, but Andy Foger
and his father, in league with some rascally Mexicans and a
tribe of head-hunters, finally made their way to the tunnel,
and most unexpectedly, released Tom and his friends.
There was a fight, but our hero's party escaped with
considerable gold and safely reached Shopton. Now, after a
winter spent in work, fixing over an old aeroplane, we again
meet Tom.
"Would you mind telling me something about where this
platinum comes from, and if you can get any more of it?"
asked Tom, after a pause, following the strange statement
made by the Russian.
"I will gladly tell you the story," spoke Mr. Petrofsky,
"for I am much interested in inventions, and I formerly did
something in that line myself, and I have even made a small
aeroplane, so you see I know the need of platinum in a high
power magneto."
"But where did you get such pure metal?" asked Tom. "I
have never seen it's equal."
"There is none like it in all the world," went on the
Russian, "and perhaps there never can be any more. I have
only a small supply. But in Siberia --in the lost mine--
there is a large quantity of it, as pure as this, needing
only a little refining.
"Can't we get some from there?" asked the young inventor
eagerly. "I should think the Russian government would mine
it, and export it."
"They would--if they could find it," said Ivan Petrofsky
dryly, "but they can't--no one can find it--and I have tried
very hard--so hard, in fact, that it is the reason for my
coming to this country--that and the desire to find and aid
my brother, who is a Siberian exile."
"This is getting interesting," remarked Ned to Tom in a
low voice, and the young inventor nodded.
"My brother Peter, who is younger than I by a few years,
and I, are the last of our family," began Mr. Petrofsky,
motioning Tom and Ned to take chairs. "We lived in St.
Petersburg, and early in life, though we were of the
nobility, we took up the cause of the common people."
"Nihilists?" asked Ned eagerly, for he had read something
of these desperate men.
"No, and not anarchists," said Mr. Petrofsky with a sad
smile. "Our party was opposed to violence, and we depended
on education to aid our cause. Then, too, we did all we
could in a quiet way to help the poor. My brother and I
invented several life-saving and labor-saving machines and
in this way we incurred the enmity of the rich contractors
and government officials, who made more money the more
people they could have working for them, for they made the
people buy their food and supplies from them.
"But my brother, and I persisted, with the result that we
were both arrested, and, with a number of others were sent
to Siberia.
"Of the horrors we endured there I will say nothing.
However, you have probably read much. In the country near
which we were quartered there were many mines, some of salt
and some of sulphur. Oh, the horrors of those mines! Many a
poor exile has been lost in the windings of a salt mine,
there to die miserably. And in the sulphur mines many die
also, not from being lost so much as being overcome by
stifling gases. It is terrible! And sometimes they are
purposely abandoned by their guides, for the government
wants to get rid of certain exiles.
"But you are interested in platinum. One day my brother
and I who had been sent to work in the salt mines, mistook a
turning and wandered on and on for several miles, finally
losing our way. We had food and water with us, or we would
have perished, and, as it was, we nearly died before we
finally found our way out of an abandoned opening.
"We came out in the midst of a terrible snowstorm, and
wandered about almost frozen. At last we were found by a
serf who, in his sled, took us to his poor cottage. There we
were warmed and fed back to life.
"We knew we would be searched for, as naturally, our
absence would lead to the suspicion that we had tried to
escape. So as soon as we were able, we started back to the
town where we were quartered. The serf wanted to take us in
his sled, but we knew he might be suspected of having tried
to aid us to get away, and he might be arrested. So we went
"As might have been expected, we became lost again, and
wandered about for several days. But we had enough food to
keep us alive. And it was during this wandering that I came
upon the platinum mine. It was down in a valley, in the
midst of a country densely wooded and very desolate. There
was an outcropping of the ore, and rather idly I put some of
it in my pockets. Then we wandered on, and finally after
awful suffering in terrific storms, were found by a
searching party and brought back to the barracks."
"Did they think you had escaped?" asked Tom.
"They did," replied the Russian, "and they punished us
severely for it, in spite of our denials. In time I managed
secretly to smelt the platinum ore, and I found I had some
of the purest metal I had ever seen. I was wishing I could
find the mine, or tell some of my friends about it, when one
of the officers discovered the metal in my bed.
"He demanded to know where I had gotten it, and knowing
that refusal would only make it the worse for me I told him.
There was considerable excitement, for the value of the
discovery was recognized, and a search was at once made for
the mine.
"But, even with the aid we were able to give, it could not
be located. Many expeditions went out to hunt for it but
came back baffled. They could not penetrate that wild
"They should have used an aeroplane," suggested Tom.
"They did," replied the Russian quickly, "but it was of no
"Why not?" the young inventor wanted to know.
"Because of the terrific winds that almost continually
sweep over that part of Siberia. They never seem to cease,
and there are treacherous air currents and 'pockets' that
engulfed more than one luckless aviator. Oh, you may be sure
the Russian government spared no means of finding the lost
platinum mine, but they could not locate it, or even get
near the place where they supposed it to be.
"Then, perhaps thinking that my brother and I were
concealing something, they separated us. Where they sent him
I do not know, but I was doomed to the sulphur mines. I was
heartbroken, and I scarcely cared whether I lived or died.
But an opportunity of escape came, and I took it. I wanted
to save my brother, but I did not know where he was, and I
thought if I could make my way to some civilized country, or
to free America, I might later be able to save my brother.
"I went to England, taking some of my precious platinum
with me, and stayed there for two years. I learned your
language, but my efforts to organize an expedition to search
for the lost mine, and for my brother, failed. Then I came
here, and--well, I am still trying."
"My! That is certainly interesting!" exclaimed Ned, who
had been all attention during the telling of the story.
"And you certainly had a hard time," declared Tom. "I am
much obliged for this platinum. Have you set a price on it?
It is worth much more than the ordinary kind."
"The price is nothing to you," replied the Russian, with a
smile. "I am only too glad to help you fix your aeroplane.
Will it take long? I should like to watch you."
"Come along," invited Tom. "I can soon have it going
again, and I'll give you a ride, if you like."
"No, thank you, I'm hardly up to that yet, though I may be
some day. The machine I made never flew well and I had
several bad falls."
Tom and Ned worked rapidly on the magneto, and soon had
replaced the defective bits of platinum.
"If the Russians had such a machine as this maybe they
could have gotten to that mine," suggested Ned, who was very
proud of Tom's craft.
"It would be useless in the terrific winds, I fear,"
answered Ivan Petrofsky. "But now I care little for the
mine. It is my brother whom I want to save. He must be in
some of the Siberian mines, and if I had such a craft as
this I might be able to rescue him."
Tom Swift dropped the file he was using. A bright light
sparkled in his eyes. He seemed strangely excited.
"Mr. Petrofsky!" he cried, "would you let me have a try at
finding your brother, and would you come with me?"
"Would I?" asked the Russian eagerly. "I would be your
debtor for life, and I would always pray for you, if you
could help me to save my brother Peter."
"Then we'll have a try at it!" cried Tom. "I've got a
different airship than this--one in which I can travel three
thousand miles without coming down. I haven't had any
excitement since I got back from the city of gold. I'm going
to Russia to help you rescue your brother from exile, and
I'm also going to have a try for that lost platinum
"Thank heaven, there is some hope for poor Peter at last,"
murmured Mr. Petrofsky earnestly.
"You never can get to the platinum mine," said Ned. The
winds will tear your airship to pieces."
"Not the kind I'm going to make," declared Tom. "It's
going to be an air glider, that will fairly live on high
winds. Ho! for Siberia and the platinum mines. Will you
"I don't know what you mean by an air glider, Tom Swift,
but I'll go to help rescue my brother," was the quick
answer, and then, with the light of a daring resolve shining
in his eyes, the young inventor proceeded to get his
aeroplane in shape for the trip back to Shopton.
"Then you won't take a ride with me to-day. asked the young
inventor, of the Russian, as he completed the repairs to the
magneto. "I'd like to have you meet my father, and a friend
of his, Mr. Damon. Most likely he'll go to Siberia with us,
if his wife will let him. I'd like to talk some plans over
with you."
"I shall certainly call on you," answered Ivan Petrofsky,
"but," he added with a smile, "I think I should prefer to
take my first ride in your larger airship--the one that
doesn't come down so often."
"Well, perhaps it is a little easier on an amateur,"
admitted Tom. "If you'll come over to our house at any time
I'll take you out in it, or I'll call for you."
"I'll come over in a few days," answered the escaped
exile. "Then I'll tell you all I know of the locality where
the platinum mine is located, and we can make our plans. In
the meanwhile don't say anything about what I have told
"Why?" asked Ned quickly.
Mr. Petrofsky approached closer to the lads, and in a low
voice said:
"I am not sure about it, but of late I think I have been
shadowed. I have seen strange men in the village near here
and they have eyed me rather suspiciously. Then, too, I have
surprised several men around my house. I live here all
alone, you know, and do most of my own work, a woman coming
in occasionally to clean. But I don't like these suspicious
characters hanging about.
"Who do you think they are?" asked Tom
"I'm almost afraid to think, but from my past experience I
think--nay, I fear--they may be spies, or agents of the
Russian government"
"Spies!" cried Ned.
"Hush. Not so loud," cautioned Mr. Petrofsky. "They may
even now be in hiding, especially since your aeroplane
landed so near my house. They may see something suspicious
even in that."
"But why should the Russian government set spies on you?"
asked Tom in a low voice.
"For two reasons. I am an escaped exile, and I
am not a citizen of the United States. Therefore
I may be sent back to the sulphur mines. And
another reason is that they may think I know the
secret of the platinum treasure--the lost mine."
"Say this is getting interesting!" exclaimed Tom. "If we
are going to have a brush with some of the spies of the
Russian government so much the better. I'm ready for 'em!"
"So am I!" added Ned.
"You don't know them," said Mr. Petrofsky, and he could
not repress a shudder. "I hope they are not on my trail, but
if they are--" he paused a moment, straightened himself up,
and looked like what he was, a strong man-- "if they are let
them look out. I'd give my life to save my brother from the
awful, living death to which he is consigned!"
"And we're with you!" cried Tom, offering the Russian his
hand. "We'll turn the trick yet. Now don't forget to come
and see us. Come along, Ned. If I'm going to build an air
glider I've got to get busy." And waving farewells to their
new friend, the lads took their places in the aeroplane and
were soon on their way to Shopton.
"Well, what do you think of it?" asked Ned of his chum, as
they sped along at a good elevation, the engine going at
half speed to be less noisy and make talking easier.
"Lots. I think we're in for a good time." an exciting one,
anyhow, if what he says is true. But what in the world is an
air glider, Tom?"
"It's the last word in aeroplanes. You don't need a motor
to make it go."
"Don't need a motor?"
"No, the wind does it all. It's a sort of aeroplane, but
the motion comes from the wind, acting on different planes,
and this is accomplished by shifting weights. In it you can
stand still in a fierce gale, if you like."
"How, by tying her fast on the ground?"
"No, hovering in the air. It's all done by getting the
proper balance. The harder the wind blows the better the air
glider works, and that's why I think it will be just the
thing for Siberia. I'm going to get right at work on it, and
you'll help me; won't you?"
"I sure will. Say, is platinum worth much?"
"Worth much? I should say it was! It's got gold beat now,
and the available supply is very small, and it's getting
more scarce. Russia has several mines, and the metal is of
good quality. I've used some Russian platinum, but the kind
Mr. Petrofsky gave me to-day was better than the best I ever
had. If we can only find that lost mine we'll be
millionaires all right."
"That's what we thought when we found the city of gold,
but the gold wasn't of as fine a grade as we hoped."
"Well, nothing like that can happen in this platinum deal.
It sure is rich ore that Mr. Petrofsky and his brother
found. Poor fellow! To think of being an exile in that awful
country, not knowing where you may be sent next. No wonder
Mr. Petrofsky wants to rescue him."
"That's right. Well, here we are. I wonder what your
father will say when he hears you're thinking of another
expedition, Tom?"
"Oh, he'll want me to go when he hears about the exile."
"And I'm sure my folks will let me go. How about Mr.
"I don't believe we can hold him back. It will make a nice
party, just you and I, and Mr. Damon and Mr. Petrofsky. That
will leave room for the other Russian--if we can rescue
him," and with that Tom shut off the engine and glided to
It may well be imagined that Mr. Swift was surprised when
his son told him the latest news, but he did not offer any
serious objection to the young inventor going to Siberia.
"Only you must be careful," he said. "Those Russian
officers are ugly when it comes to trying to take away any
of their prisoners. And this air glider--I don't exactly
know about that. It's a new machine, and you want to be sure
it works before you trust yourself to it."
"I will," promised Tom. "Say, I've got plenty of work
ahead of me,--to get my big airship in shape, and build the
glider. You'll have to help me, dad."
"I will, son. Now tell me more about this Mr. Petrofsky."
Which Tom did.
The days that followed were indeed busy ones for Tom. The
young inventor made a model air glider that sailed fairly
well, but he knew it would have to work better to be
successful, and he bent all his energies in that direction.
Meanwhile Mr. Damon had been told of the prospective trip.
"Bless my bank book! Of course I'll go," he said. "But
don't say anything about it to my wife--that is, just yet.
I'll bring her around to it gradually. She has always wanted
a diamond ring set in platinum, and now I can get it for
her. I know she'll let me go if I break it to her gently."
It may be mentioned here that many valuable diamonds are
now set in platinum instead of gold.
"I want to keep busy," said Mr. Damon, so Tom set him, Ned
and Eradicate at the task of getting the big airship in
shape for the trip. This air craft has not figured in any of
my previous stories, but as it is so nearly like the one
that was crushed in the caves of ice, I will not give a
description of it here. Those who care to may refer to the
book telling of Tom's trip to the caves of ice for a
detailed account of the craft.
Sufficient to say that this latest airship, named the
Falcon, was the largest Tom had ever built. It contained
much room, many comforts, and could sail for several
thousand miles without descending, except in case of
accident. It was a combined dirigible balloon and aeroplane,
and could be used as either, the necessary gas being made on
board. It was large enough to enable the air glider to be
taken on it in sections.
It was about a week after their first meeting with him,
that Ivan Petrofsky paid a visit to the Swift home. He was
warmly welcomed by the aged inventor and Mr. Damon, and,
closeted in the library of the house, he proceeded to go
more into details of his own and his brother's exile to
Siberia, and to tell about the supposed location of the lost
platinum mine.
"I don't believe we can start for several weeks yet," said
Tom, after some discussion. "It will take me that long to
make the glider."
"And I, too, need a little time," said the Russian. "I
will write to some friends in St. Petersburg and perhaps
they can get some information for us, as to where my brother
"That will be good," declared Mr. Damon. "Bless my icicle!
But the more I think of this trip the better I like it!"
It was arranged that the Russian should call again soon,
when the plans would be nearer in shape, and in the
meanwhile he must learn all he could from revolutionary
friends in Siberia.
It was a week after this, during which Tom, Ned and the
others had been very busy, that Tom decided to take a trip
to see their Russian friend. They had not heard from him
since his visit, and Tom wanted to learn something about the
strength of the Siberian winds.
He and Ned went in one of the small airships and soon they
were hovering over the grounds surrounding the lonely house
where Ivan Petrofsky lived.
"He doesn't seem to be at home," remarked Ned, as they
descended and approached the dwelling.
"No, and it looks quite deserted," agreed the young
inventor. "Say, all the doors are open, too! He shouldn't
go away and leave his house open like that--with the
valuable platinum there."
"Maybe he's asleep," suggested Ned.
They knocked on the opened door, but there was no answer.
Then they went inside. To their surprise the house was in
confusion. Furniture was overturned, tables and chairs were
broken, and papers were scattered about the room.
"There's been a fight here!" cried Tom.
"That's right," agreed Ned. "Maybe he's been hurt--maybe
burglars came for the platinum!"
"Come on!" cried Tom, making a dash for the stairs. "We'll
see if he's here."
The house was small, and it took but a moment to show that
Mr. Petrofsky was not there. Upstairs, as below, was the
same confusion--the overturned furniture and the papers
scattered about.
Tom stooped and picked up a scrap that looked like a piece
torn from a letter. On top was a seal--the black seal of
Russia--the imperial arms of the Czar!
"Look!" cried Tom, holding out the paper.
"What is it." asked Ned.
"The hand of the Czar!" answered his chum. "It has reached
out from Russia, and taken Mr. Petrofsky away!"
For a moment Ned could scarcely understand what Tom meant.
It scarcely seemed possible that such a thing could happen.
That some one in far-off Russia--be it the Czar or one of
the secret police--could operate from such a distance,
seeking out a man in an obscure house in a little American
village, and snatching him away.
"It isn't possible!" declared Ned breathlessly.
"What difference does that make?" asked Tom. "The thing
has happened, and you can't get out of it. Look at all the
evidence--there's been a fight, that's sure, and Mr.
Petrofsky is gone."
"But maybe he went away of his own accord," insisted Ned,
who was sometimes hard to convince.
"Nonsense! If a man went away of his own accord would he
smash up his furniture, leave his papers scattered all about
and go off leaving the doors and windows open for any one to
walk in? I guess not."
"Well, maybe you're right. But think of it! This isn't
"No, but he's a Russian subject, and, by his own
confession an escaped exile. If he was arrested in the usual
way he could be taken back, and our government couldn't
interfere. He's been taken back all right. Poor man! Think
of being doomed to those sulphur mines again, and as he
escaped they'll probably make it all the harder for him!"
"But I thought our government wouldn't help other nations
to get back prisoners convicted of political crimes,
suggested Ned. "That's all Mr. Petrofsky was guilty of--
politics, trying to help the poor in his own country. It's a
shame if our government stands for anything like that!"
"That's just the point!" exclaimed Tom. Probably the
spies, secret police, or whoever the Russian agents were,
didn't ask any help from our government. If they did there
might be a chance for him. But likely they worked in secret.
They came here, sneaked in on him, and took him away before
he could get help. Jove! If he could only have gotten word
to me I'd have come in the airship, and then there'd be a
different ending to this."
"I guess you're right, Tom. Well, that ends it I suppose."
"Ends what?"
"Our trip to the platinum mine."
"Not a bit of it. I'm going to have a hunt for it."
"But how can you when Mr. Petrofsky can't go along to show
us the way? Besides, we wanted to help rescue his brother,
and now we can't."
"Well, I'm going to make a big try," declared the young
inventor firmly. "And the first thing I'm going to do is to
get our friend out of the clutches of the Russian police."
"You are? How?"
"I'm going to make a search for him. Look here, Ned, he
must have been taken away some time to-day--perhaps only a
few hours ago--and they can't have gone far with him."
"How do you make that out?" Ned wanted to know.
"Well, I guess I'm detective enough for that," and Tom
smiled. "Look here, the doors and windows are open. Now it
rained last night, and there was quite a wind. If the
windows had been open in the storm there'd be some traces of
moisture in the rooms. But there isn't a drop. Consequently
the windows have been opened since last night."
"Say, that's so!" cried Ned admiringly.
"But that's not all," went on Tom. "Here's a bottle of
milk on the table, and it's fresh," which he proved by
tasting it. "Now that was left by the milkman either late
last night or early this morning. I don't believe it's over
twelve hours old."
"Well, what does this mean?" asked Ned, who couldn't quite
follow Tom's line of reasoning.
"To my mind it means that the spies were here no later
than this morning. Look at the table upset, the dishes on
the floor. Here's one with oatmeal in it, and you know how
hard and firm cooked oatmeal gets after it stands a bit.
This is quite fresh, and soft, and--"
"And that means--" interrupted Ned, who was in turn
interrupted by Tom, who exclaimed:
"It means that Mr. Petrofsky was at breakfast when they
burst in on him, and took him away. They had hard work
overpowering him, I'll wager, for he could put up a pretty
good fight. And the broken furniture is evidence of that.
Then the spies, after tying him up, or putting him in a
carriage, searched the house for incriminating papers.
That's as plain as the nose on your face. Then the police
agents, or whoever they were, skipped out in a hurry, not
taking the trouble to close the windows and doors."
"I believe it did happen that way," agreed Ned, who
clearly saw what Tom meant. "But what can we do? How can we
find him?"
"By getting on the trail," answered his chum quickly.
"There may be more clews in the house, and I'm sure there'll
be some out of doors, for they must have left footprints or
the marks of carriage wheels. We'll take a look, and then
we'll get right on the search. I'm not going to let them
take Mr. Petrofsky to Russia if I can help it. I want to get
after that platinum, and he's the only one who can pilot us
anywhere near the place; and besides, there's his brother
we've got to rescue. We'll make a search for the exile."
"I'm with you!" cried Ned. "Jove! Wouldn't it be great if
we could rescue him? They can't have gotten very far with
"I'm afraid they have quite a start on us admitted Tom
with a dubious shake of his head, "but as long as they're in
the United States we have a chance. If ever they get him on
Russian soil it's all up with him."
"Come on then!" cried Ned. "Let's get busy. What's the
first thing to do?"
"Look for clews," replied Tom. "We'll begin at the top of
the house and work down. It's lucky we came when we did, for
every minute counts."
Then the two plucky lads began their search for the
kidnapped Russian exile. Had those who took him away seen
the mere youths who thus devoted themselves to the task,
they might have laughed in contempt, but those who know Tom
Swift and his sturdy chum, know that two more resourceful
and brave lads would be hard to find.
"Nothing much up here," remarked Tom, when he and Ned had
gone all over the second floor twice. "That scrap of paper,
which put me on to the fact that some one from the Russian
government had been here, is about all. They must have taken
all the documents Mr. Petrofsky had."
"Maybe he didn't have any," suggested Ned.
"If he was wise he'd get rid of them when he knew he was
being shadowed, as he told us. Perhaps that was why they
broke up the furniture, searching for hidden papers, or they
may have done it out of spite because they didn't find
anything. But we might as well go downstairs and look
But the first floor was equally unproductive of clews,
save those already noted, which showed, at least so Tom
believed, that Mr. Petrofsky had been surprised and
overpowered while at breakfast.
"Now for outside!" cried the young inventor. "We'll see if
we can figure out how they got him away."
There were plenty of marks in the soft ground and turf,
which was still damp from the night's rain, though it was
now afternoon. Unfortunately, however, in approaching the
house after leaving the aeroplane, Ned and Tom had not
thought to exercise caution, and, not suspecting anything
wrong, they had stepped on a number of footprints left by
the kidnappers.
But for all that, they saw enough to convince them that
several men had been at the lonely house, for there were
many marks of shoes. It was out of the question, however, to
tell which were those of Mr. Petrofsky and which those of
his captors.
"They might have carried him out to a carriage they had in
waiting," suggested Ned. "Let's go out to the front gate and
look in the road. They hardly would bring the carriage up to
the door."
"Good idea," commented Tom, and they hurried to the main
thoroughfare that passed the Russian's house.
"Here they are!" cried Ned, Who was in the lead. "There's
been a carriage here as sure as you're a foot high. and it's
a rubber-tired one too."
"GOOD!" cried Tom admiringly. "You're coming right along
in your detective training. How do you make that out?"
"See here, where a piece of rubber has been broken or cut
out of the tire. It makes a peculiar mark in the dirt every
time the wheel goes around."
"That's right, and it will be a good thing to trace the
carriage by. Come on, we'll keep right after it."
"Hold on a bit," suggested Ned, who, though not so quick
as Tom Swift, frequently produced good results by his very
slowness. "Are you going off and leave the airship here for
some one to walk off with?"
"Guess they wouldn't take it far," replied the young
inventor, "but I'd better make it safe. I'll disconnect it
so they can't start it, though if Andy Foger happens to come
along he might slash the planes just out of spite. But I
guess he won't show up."
Tom took a connecting pin out of the electrical apparatus,
making it impossible to start the aeroplane, and then,
wheeling it out of sight behind a small barn, he and Ned
went back to the carriage marks in the road.
"Hurry!" urged Tom, as he started off in the direction of
the village of Hurdtown, near where the cottage stood. "We
will ask people living along the highway if they've seen a
carriage pass."
"But what makes you think they went off that way?" asked
Ned. "I should think they'd head away from the village, so
as not to be seen."
"No, I don't agree with you. But wait, we'll look at the
marks. Maybe that will help us."
Peering carefully at the marks of horses' hoofs and the
wheel impressions, Tom uttered a cry of discovery.
"I have it!" he declared. "The carriage came from the
village, and kept right on the other way. You're right, Ned.
They didn't go back to town.
"Are you sure?"
"Of course. You can see for yourself; if the carriage had
turned around the track would show, but it doesn't and, even
if they turned on the grass, there'd be two lines of marks--
one coming out here and one returning. As it is there is
only a single set--just as if the carriage drove up here,
took on its load, and continued on. This way, Ned."
They hurried down the road, and soon came to a cluster of
farm houses. Inquiries there, however, failed to bring
anything to light, for either the occupants of the house had
failed to notice passing vehicles, or there had been so many
that any particular carriage was not recalled. And there
were now so many impressions in the soft dirt of the
highway--so many wheel tracks and hoof imprints--that it was
impossible to pick out those of the carriage with the cut
rubber tire. "Well, I guess it isn't of much use to go on
any farther," spoke Ned, when they had traveled several
miles and had learned nothing.
"We'll try one more house, and then go back," agreed Tom.
"We'll tell dad about what's happened, and see what he
"Carriage?" repeated an old farmer to whom they next put
the question. "Wa'al, now, come t' think of it, I did see
one drivin' along here early this morning. It had rubber
tires on too, for I recollect remarkin' t' myself that it
didn't make much noise. Had t' talk t' myself," he added in
explanation," 'cause nobody else in the family was up,
'ceptin' th' dog."
"Did the carriage have some Russians in it?" asked Tom
eagerly, "and was one a big bearded man?"
"Wa'al, now you've got me," admitted the farmer frankly.
"It was quite early you see, and I didn't take no particular
notice. I got up early t' do my milkin' 'cause I have t'
take it t' th' cheese factory. That's th' reason nobody was
up but me. But I see this carriage comin' down th' road, and
thinks I t' myself it was pretty middlin' early fer anybody
t' be takin' a pleasure ride. I 'lowed it were a pleasure
ride, 'cause it were one of them hacks that folks don't
usually use 'ceptin' fer a weddin', or a funeral, an' it
wa'n't no funeral."
"Then you can't tell us anything more except that it
passed?" asked Ned.
"No, I couldn't see inside, 'cause it was rather dark at
that hour, and then, too, I noticed that they had th' window
shades down."
"That's suspicious!" exclaimed Tom. "I believe they are
the fellows we re after," and, without giving any
particulars he said that they were looking for a friend who
might have been taken away against his will.
"Could you tell where they were going?" asked
Tom, scarcely hoping to get an affirmative answer.
"Wa'al, th' man on th' seat pulled up when he see me,"
spoke the farmer with exasperating slowness, "an' asked me
how far it was t' th' Waterville station, an' I told him."
"Why didn't you say so at first?" asked Tom quickly. "Why
didn't you tell us they were heading for the railroad?"
"You didn't ask me," replied the farmer. "What difference
does it make."
"Every minute counts!" exclaimed the young inventor. "We
want to keep right after those fellows. Maybe the agent can
tell us where they bought tickets to, and we can trace them
that way.
"Shouldn't wonder," commented the farmer. There ain't many
trains out from Waterville at that time of day, an' mighty
few passengers. Shouldn't wonder but Jake Applesaner could
put ye on th' trail."
"Much obliged," called Tom. "Come on, Ned," and he started
back in the direction of the house where the kidnapping had
taken place.
"That ain't th' way t' 'vaterville!" the farmer shouted
after them.
"I know it, we're going to get our airship," answered Tom,
and then he heard the farmer mutter.
"Plumb crazy! That's what they be! Plumb crazy! Going
after their airship! Shouldn't wonder but they was escaped
lunatics, and the other fellers was keepers after 'em. Hu!
Wa'al, I've got my work to do. 'Tain't none of my affair."
"Let him think what he likes," commented Ned as he and his
chum hurried on. "We're on the trail all right."
If Jake Applesauer, the agent at the Waterville station,
was surprised at seeing two youths drop down out of an
aeroplane, and begin questioning him about some suspicious
strangers that had taken the morning train, he did not show
it. Jake prided himself on not being surprised at anything,
except once when he took a counterfeit dollar in return for
a ticket, and had to make it good to the company.
But, to the despair of Tom and Ned, he could not help them
much. He had seen the party, of course. They had driven up
in the hack, and one of the men seemed to be sick, or hurt,
for his head was done up in bandages, and the others had to
half carry him on the train.
"That was Mr. Petrofsky all right," declared Ned.
"Sure," assented Tom. "They must have hurt and drugged
him. But you can't tell us for what station they bought
tickets, Mr. Applesauer?"
"No, for they didn't buy any. They must have had 'em, or
else they paid on the train. One man drove off in the coach,
and that's all I know."
As Tom and Ned started back to Shopton in the aeroplane
they discussed what could be done next. A hard task lay
before them, and they realized that.
"They could have gotten off at any station between here
and New York, or even changed to another railroad at the
junction," spoke Tom. "It's going to be a hard job."
"Guess we'll have to get some regular detectives on it,"
suggested Ned.
"And that's what I'll do," declared the young inventor.
"They may be able to locate Mr. Petrofsky before those spies
take him out of this country. If they don't--it will be too
late. I'm going to talk to dad about it, and if he agrees
I'll hire the best private detectives."
Mr. Swift gave his consent when Tom had told the story,
and, a day later, one of the best detectives of a well known
agency called on Tom in Shopton and assumed charge of the
The early reports from the detective were quite
reassuring. He got on the trail of the men who had taken Mr.
Petrofsky away, and confirmed the suspicion that they were
agents of the Russian police. He trailed them as far as New
York, and there the clews came to an end.
"Whether they are in the big city, which might easily be,
or in some of the nearby towns, will take some time to
learn," the detective wrote, and Tom wired back telling him
to keep on searching.
But, as several weeks went by, and no word came, even Tom
began to give up hope, though he did not stop work on the
air glider, which was nearing completion. And then, most
unexpectedly a clew came--a clew from far-off Russia.
Tom got a letter one day--a letter in a strange hand, the
stamp and postmark showing that it had come from the land of
the Czar.
"What do you suppose it contains?" asked Ned, who was with
his chum when the communication was received.
"Haven't the least idea; but I'll soon find out."
"Maybe it's from the Russian police, telling you to keep
away from Siberia."
"Maybe," answered Tom absently, for he was reading the
missive. "I say!" he suddenly cried. "This is great! A clew
at last, and from St. Petersburg! Listen to this, Ned!
"This letter is from the head of one of the secret
societies over there, a society that works against the
government. It says that Mr. Petrofsky is being detained a
prisoner in a lonely hut on the Atlantic sea coast, not far
from New York--Sandy Hook the letter says--and here are the
very directions how to get there!"
"No!" cried Ned, in disbelief. "How in the world could
anybody in Russia know that."
"It tells here," said Tom. "It's all explained. As soon as
the secret police got Mr. Petrofsky they communicated with
the head officials in St. Petersburg. You know nearly
everyone is a spy over there, and the letter says that Mr.
Petrofsky's friends there soon heard the news, and even about
the exact place where he is being held."
"What are they holding him for?" asked Ned.
"That's explained, too. It seems they can't legally take
him back until certain papers are received from his former
prison in Siberia, and those are now on the way. His friends
write to me to hasten and rescue him."
"But how did they ever get your address?"
"That's easy, though you wouldn't think so. It seems, so
the letter explains, that as soon as Mr. Petrofsky got
acquainted with us he wrote to friends in St. Petersburg,
giving my address, and telling them, in case anything ever
happened to him, to notify us. You see he suspected that
something might, after he found he was being shadowed that
"And it all worked out. As soon as his friends heard that
he was caught, and learned where he was being held, they
wrote to me. Hurrah, Ned! A clew at last! Now to wire the
detective--no, hold on, we'll go there and rescue him
ourselves! We'll go in the airship, and pick up Detective
Trivett in New York."
"That's the stuff! I'm with you!"
"Bless my suspender buttons! So am I, whatever it is!"
cried Mr. Damon, entering the room at that moment.
"We ought to be somewhere near the place now, Tom."
"I think we are, Ned. But you know I'm not going too close
in this airship."
"Bless my silk hat!" exclaimed Mr. Damon. "I hope we don't
have to walk very far in such a deserted country as this,
Tom Swift."
"We'll have to walk a little way, Mr. Damon," replied the
young inventor. "If I go too close to the hut they'll see
the airship, and as those spies probably know that Mr.
Petrofsky has been dealing with me, They'd smell a rat at
once, and run away, taking him with them, and we'd have all
our work to do over again."
"That's right," agreed Detective Trivett, who was one of
the four in the airship that was now hovering over the
Atlantic coast, about ten miles below the summer resorts of
which Asbury Park was one.
It was only a few hours after Tom had received the letter
from Russia informing him of the whereabouts of the
kidnapped Russian, and he had acted at once.
His father sanctioned the plan of going to the rescue in
one of Tom's several airships and, Mr. Damon, having been on
hand, at once agreed to go. Of course Ned went along, and
they had picked up the private detective in New York, where
he was vainly seeking a clew to the whereabouts of Mr.
Now the young inventor and his friends were hovering over
the sandy stretch of coast that extends from Sandy Hook down
the Atlantic seaboard. They were looking for a small fishing
hamlet on the outskirts of which, so the Russian letter
stated, was situated the lonely hut in which Mr. Petrofsky
was held a prisoner.
"Do you think you can pick it out from a distance, Tom?"
asked Mr. Damon, as the airship floated slowly along. It was
not the big one they intended taking on their trip to
Siberia, but it was sufficiently large to accommodate the
four and leave room for Mr. Petrofsky, should they succeed
in rescuing him.
"I think so," answered the young inventor.
In the letter from Russia a comparatively accurate
description of the prisoner's hut had been given, and also
some details about his guards. For there is little goes on
in political circles in the realm of the Czar that is not
known either to the spies of the government or those of the
opposition, and the latter had furnished Tom with reliable
"That looks like the place," said Tom at length, when,
after peering steadily through a powerful telescope, during
which time Ned steered the ship, the young inventor "picked
up" a fishing settlement. "There is the big fish house,
spoken of in the letter," he went on, "and the Russians know
a lot about fish. That house makes a good landmark. We'll go
down now, before they have a chance to see us."
The others thought this a good idea, and a little later
the airship sank to the ground amid a lonely stretch of sand
dunes, about two miles from the hamlet on the outskirts of
which the prison hut was said to be located.
"Now," said Tom, "we've got to decide on a plan of
Campaign. It won't do for all of us to go to the hut and
make the rescue. Some one has got to stay with the airship,
to be ready to start it off as soon as we come back with Mr.
Petrofsky--if we do come.
"Then there's no use in me staying here," spoke Detective
Trivett. "I don't know enough even to turn on the gasolene."
"No, it's got to be Ned or me," said the young inventor.
"I'll stay," volunteered Ned quickly, for though he would
very much have liked to be in at the rescue, he realized
that his place was in the airship, as Mr. Damon was not
sufficiently familiar with the machinery to operate it.
Accordingly, after looking to everything to see that it
was in working order, Tom led the advance. It was just
getting dusk, and they figured on getting to the hut after
"Have everything ready for a quick start," Tom said to
Ned, "for we may come back running."
"I will," was the prompt answer, and then, getting their
bearings, the little party set off.
They had to travel over a stretch of sandy waste that ran
along the beach. Back in shore were a few scattered
cottages, and not yet opened for the summer, and on the
ocean side was the pounding surf. The hut, as Tom recalled
the directions, lay just beyond a group of stunted hemlock
trees that set a little way hack from the ocean, on a bluff
overlooking the sea. It was not near any other building.
Slowly, and avoiding going any nearer the other houses
than they could help, the little party made its way. They
had to depend on their own judgement now, for the minor
details of the location of the hut could not be given in the
letter from Russia. In fact the spies themselves, in
writing to their head officers about the matter, had not
described the location in detail.
"That looks like it over there," said Tom at last, when
they had gone about a mile and a half, and saw a lonely hut
with a light burning in it.
Cautiously they approached and, as they drew nearer, they
saw that the light came through the window of a small hut.
"Looks like the place," commented the detective.
"We'll have a look," remarked Tom.
He crept up so he could glance in the window, and no
sooner had he peered in, than he motioned for the others to
Looking under a partly-drawn curtain, Mr. Damon and Mr.
Trivett saw the Russian whom they sought. He was seated at a
table, his head bowed on his hands, and in the room were
three men. A rifle stood in one corner, near one of the
"They're taking no chances," whispered Mr. Damon. "What
shall we do, Tom?"
"It's three to three," replied the young inventor. "But if
we can get him away without a fight, so much the better. I
think I have it. I'll go up to the door, knock and make
quite a racket, and demand admittance in the name of the
Czar. That will startle them, and they may all three rush to
answer. Mr. Damon, you and the detective will stay by the
window. As soon as you see the men rush for the door, smash
in the window with a piece of driftwood and call to Mr.
Petrofsky to jump out that way. Then you can run with him
toward the airship, and I'll follow. It may work."
"I don't see why it wouldn't," declared the detective. "Go
ahead, Tom. We're ready."
Looking in once more, to make sure that the guards were
not aware of the presence of the rescuing party, Tom went to
the front door of the hut. It was a small building,
evidently one used by fishermen.
Tom knocked loudly on the portal, at the same time crying
out in a voice that he strove to make as deep and menacing
as possible:
"Open! Open in the name of the Czar!"
Looking through the window, ready to act on the instant,
Mr. Damon and the detective saw the three guards spring to
their feet. One remained near Mr. Petrofsky, who also leaped
"Now!" called the detective to his companion. "Smash the
The next instant a big piece of driftwood crashed through
the casement, just as the two men were hurrying to the front
door to answer Tom's summons.
"Mr. Petrofsky! This way!" yelled Mr. Damon, sticking his
head in through the broken sash. "Come out! We've come to
save you! Bless my putty blower, but this is great! Come
For a moment the exile stared at the head thrust through
the broken window, and he listened to Tom's emphatic knocks
and demands. Then with a cry of delight the Russian sprang
for the open casement, while the guard that had remained
near him made a leap to catch him, crying out:
"Betrayed! Betrayed! It's the Nihilists! Look out, comrades!"
Mr. Damon continued to hammer away at the window sash with
the piece of driftwood. There were splinters of the frame
and jagged pieces of glass sticking out, making it dangerous
for the exile to slip through.
"Come on! Come on!" the eccentric man continued to call.
"Bless my safety valve! We'll save you! Come on!"
Mr. Petrofsky was leaping across the room, just ahead of
the one guard. The other two were at the open door now,
through which Tom could be seen. Then the spies, realizing
in an instant that they had been deceived, made a dash after
their comrade, who had his hand on the tails of the exile's
"Break away! Break loose!" cried Mr. Damon, who, by this
time had cleared the window so a person could get through.
"Don't let them hold you!"
"I don't intend to!" retorted Mr. Petrofsky, and he
swerved suddenly, tearing his coat, from the grasp of the
In another instant the exile was at the casement, and was
being helped through by Mr. Damon, and there was need of it,
for the three guards were there now, doing their best to
keep their prisoner.
"Pull away! Pull away!" cried Mr. Damon.
"We'll help you!" shouted Tom, who, now that his trick had
worked, had sped around to the other side of the hut.
"Don't be afraid, we're with you!" exclaimed the
detective, who was with the young inventor.
"Grab him! Keep him! Hold him!" fairly screamed the
rearmost of the three guards. "It is a plot of the Nihilists
to rescue him. Shoot him, comrades. He must not get away!"
"Don't you try any of your shooting games, or I'll take a
hand in it!" shouted the detective, and, at the same moment
he drew his revolver and fired harmlessly in the air.
"A bomb! A bomb!", yelled the guards in terror.
"Not yet, but there may be!" murmured Tom. The firing of
the shot produced a good effect, for the three men who were
trying to detain Ivan Petrofsky at once fell back from the
window and gave him just the chance needed. He scrambled
through, with the aid of Mr. Damon, and before the guards
could again spring at him, which they did when the echoes of
the shot had died away. They had realized, too late, that it
was not a bomb, and that there was no immediate danger for
"Come on!" cried Tom. "Make for the airship! We've got to
get the start of them!"
Leading the way, he sprinted toward the road that led to
the place where the airship awaited them. He was followed by
Mr. Damon and the detective, who had Mr. Petrofsky between
"Are you all right?" Tom called back to the exile. "Are
you hurt? Can you run?"
"I'm all right," was the reassuring answer. "Go ahead; But
they'll be right after us."
"Maybe they'll stop when they see this," remarked the
detective significantly, and he held his revolver so that
the rays of the newly-risen moon glinted on it.
"Here they come!" cried Tom a moment later, as three
figures, one after the other, came around the corner of the
house. They had not taken the shorter route through the
window, as had Mr. Petrofsky, and this gained a little time
for our friends.
"Stop! Hold on!" cried one of the guards in fairly good
English. "That is our prisoner."
"Not any more!" the young inventor yelled back. "He's ours
"Look out! They're going to shoot!" cried Mr. Damon.
"Bless my gunpowder! can't you stop them some way or other,
Mr. Detective?"
"The only way is by firing first," answered Mr. Trivett,
"and I don't want to hurt them. Guess I'll fire in the air
He did, and the guards halted. They seemed to be holding a
consultation, as Tom learned by glancing hastily back, and
he caught the glisten of some weapon. But if the three men
had any notion of firing they gave it up, and once more came
on running. Doubtless they had orders to get their prisoner
back to Russia alive, and did not want to take any chances
of hitting him.
"Leg it!" cried Tom. "Leg it!"
He was well ahead, and wanted the others to catch up to
him, but none of the men was a good runner, and Mr.
Petrofsky, by reason of being rather heavily built, was
worse than the other two, so they had to accommodate their
pace to his.
"I wonder if we can make it," mused Tom, as he realized
that the airship was a good distance off yet. the guards,
though quite a way in the rear now were coming on fast.
"It's going to be a close race," thought the young inventor.
"I wish we'd brought the airship a little nearer."
It was indeed a race now, for the guards, seeming to know
that they would not be shot at, were coming on more
confidently, and were rap-idly lessening the distance that
separated them from their recent prisoner.
"We've got to go faster!" cried Tom.
"Bless my shoe leather!" yelled Mr. Damon. "I can't go any
Still he did make the attempt, and so did the exile and
the detective. Little was said now, for each of the parties
was running a dogged race, and in silence. They had gone
possibly half a mile, and the first advantage of Tom and his
friends was rapidly being lost, when suddenly there sounded
in the air above a curious throbbing noise.
"Bless my gasolene! What's that?" cried Mr. Damon.
"The airship! It's the airship!" yelled Tom, as he saw a
great dark shape slowly approaching. "Ned is bringing her to
met us."
"Good!" cried the detective. "We need it I'm about
"This way, Ned! This way!" cried Tom, and, an instant
later, they were in the midst of a brilliant glow, for Ned
had turned the current into the great searchlight on the bow
of the air craft, and the beams were focused on our friends.
Ned could now see the refugees, and in a moment he sent the
graceful craft down, bringing it to a halt on the ground
near Tom.
"In with you!" cried the lad. "She's all ready to start up
"Come on!" yelled Tom to the others. "We're all right now,
if you hustle!"
"Bless my pin cushion!" gasped Mr. Damon, making a final
The three guards had halted in confusion on seeing the
big, black bulk of the airship, and when they noted the
gleaming of the searchlight they must have realized that
their chances were gone. They made a rush, however, but it
was too late. Over the side of the craft scrambled Tom, Mr.
Damon, the detective and Ivan Petrofsky, and an instant
later Ned had sent it aloft. The race was over, and the
young inventor and his friends had won.
"You're the stuff!" cried Tom to Ned, as he went with his
chum to the pilot house to direct the progress of the
airship. "It's lucky you came for us. We never could have
made the distance. We left the ship too far off."
"That's what I thought after you'd gone," replied his
chum. "So I decided to come and meet you. I had to go slowly
so as not to pass you in the darkness."
They were speeding off now, and Ned, turning the beams of
the great searchlight below them, picked up the three guards
who were gazing helplessly aloft after their fast
disappearing prisoner.
"You're having your first ride in an airship, Mr.
Petrofsky," remarked Tom, when they had gone on for some
little distance. "How do you like it?"
"I'm so excited I hardly know, but it's quite a sensation.
But how in the world did you ever find me to rescue me?"
Then they told the story of their search, and the
unexpected clew from Russia. In turn the exile told how he
had been attacked at the breakfast table one morning by the
three spies--the very men who had been shadowing him--and
taken away secretly, being drugged to prevent his calling
for help. He had been kept a close prisoner in the lonely
hut, and each day he had expected to be taken back to serve
out his sentence in Siberia.
"Another day would have been too late," he told Tom, when
he had thanked the young inventor over and over again, "for
the papers would have arrived, and the last obstacle to
taking me back to Russia would have been removed. They
dared not take me out of the United States without official
documents, and they would have been forged ones, for they
intended trumping up a criminal charge against me, the
political one not being strong enough to allow them to
extradite me."
"Well I'm glad we got you," said Tom heartily. "We will
soon be ready to start for Siberia."
"In this kind of a craft?"
"Yes, only much larger. You'll like it. I only hope my
air glider works."
By putting on speed, Tom was able to reach Shopton before
midnight, and there was quite an informal celebration in the
Swift homestead over the rescue of the exile. The detective,
for whom there was no further need, was paid off, and Mr.
Petrofsky was made a member of the household.
"You'd better stay here until we are ready to start," Tom
said, "and then we can keep an eye on you. We need you to
show us as nearly as possible where the platinum field is."
"All right," agreed the Russian with a laugh. "I'm sure
I'll do all I can for you, and you are certainly treating me
very nicely after what I suffered from my captors."
Tom resumed work on his air glider the next day, and he
had an additional helper, for Mr. Petrofsky proved to be a
good mechanic.
In brief, the air glider was like an aeroplane save that
it had no motor. It was raised by a strong wind blowing
against transverse planes, and once aloft was held there by
the force of the air currents, just like a box kite is kept
up. To make it progress either with or against the wind,
there were horizontal and vertical rudders, and sliding
weights, by which the equilibrium could be shifted so as to
raise or lower it. While it could not exactly move directly
against the wind it could progress in a direction contrary
to which the gale was blowing, somewhat as a sailing ship
And, as has been explained, the harder the wind blew the
better the air glider worked. In fact unless there was a
strong gale it would not go up.
"But it will be just what is needed out there in that part
of Siberia," declared the exile, "for there the wind is
never quiet. Often it blows a regular hurricane."
"That's what we want!" cried Tom. He had made several
models of the air glider, changing them as he found out his
errors, and at last he had hit on the right shape and size.
Midway of the big glider, on which work was now well
started, there was to be an enclosed car for the carrying of
passengers, their food and supplies. Tom figured on carrying
five or six.
For several weeks the work on the air glider progressed
rapidly, and it was nearing completion. Meanwhile nothing
more had been heard or seen of the Russian spies.
"Well," announced Tom one night, after a day's hard work,
"we'll be ready for a trial now, just as soon as there comes
a good wind."
"Is it all finished?" asked Ned.
"No, but enough for a trial spin. What I want is a big wind now."
There was a humming in the air. The telegraph wires that
ran along on high poles past the house of Tom Swift sung a
song like that of an Aeolian harp. The very house seemed to tremble.
"Jove! This is a wind!" cried Tom as he awakened on a
morning a few days after his air glider was nearly
completed. "I never saw it so strong. This ought to be just
what I want I must telephone to Mr. Damon and to Ned."
He hustled into his clothes, pausing now and then to look
out of his window and note the effects of the gale. It was a
tremendous wind, as was evidenced by the limbs of several
trees being broken off, while in some cases frail trees
themselves had been snapped in twain.
"Coffee ready, Mrs. Baggert?" asked our hero as he went
downstairs. "I haven't got time to eat much though."
In spite of his haste Tom ate a good breakfast and then,
having telephoned to his two friends, and receiving their
promises to come right over, our hero went out to make a few
adjustments to his air glider, to get it in shape for the
He was a little worried lest the wind die out, but when he
got outside he noted with satisfaction that the gale was
stronger than at first. In fact it did considerable damage
in Shopton, as Tom learned later.
It certainly was a strong wind. An ordinary aeroplane
never could have sailed in it, and Tom was doubtful of the
ability of even his big airship to navigate in it. But he
was not going to try that.
"And maybe my air glider won't work," he remarked to
himself as he was on his way to the shed where it had been
constructed. "The models went up all right, but maybe the
big one isn't proportioned right. However, I'll soon see."
He was busy adjusting the balancing weights when Ned
Newton came in.
"Great Scott!" exclaimed the lad, as he labored to close
the shed door, "this is a blow all right, Tom! Do you think
it's safe to go up?"
"I can't go up without a gale, Ned."
"Well, I'd think twice about it myself."
"Why, I counted on you going up with me."
"Burr-r-r-r!" and Ned pretended to shiver. "I haven't an
accident insurance policy you know."
"You won't need it, Ned. If we get up at all we'll be all
right. Catch hold there, and shift that rear weight a little
forward on the rod. I expect Mr. Damon soon."
The eccentric man came in a little later, just as Tom and
Ned had finished adjusting the mechanism.
"Bless my socks!" cried Mr. Damon. "Do you really mean to
go up to-day, Tom?"
"I sure do! Why, aren't you going with me?" and Tom winked
at Ned.
"Bless my--" began Mr. Damon, and then, evidently
realizing that he was being tested he exclaimed: "Well, I
will go, Tom! If the air glider is any good it ought to hold
me. I will go up."
"Now, Ned, how about you?" asked the young inventor.
"Well, I guess it's up to me to come along. but I sure do
wish it was over with," and Ned glanced out of the window to
see if the gale was dying out. But the wind was as high as
It was hard work getting the air glider out of the shed,
and in position on top of a hill, about a quarter of a mile
away, for Tom intended "taking off" from the mound, as he
could not get a running start without a motor. The wind,
however, he hoped, would raise him and the strange craft.
In order to get it over the ground without having it
capsize, or elevate before they were ready for it, drag
ropes, attached to bags of sand were used, and once these
were attached the four found that they could not wheel the
air glider along on its bicycle wheels.
"We'll have to get Eradicate and his mule, I guess," said
Tom, after a vain endeavor to make progress against the
wind. "When it's up in the air it will be all right, but
until then I'll need help to move it. Ned, call Rad, will
The colored man, with Boomerang, his faithful mule, was
soon on hand. The animal was hitched to the glider, and
pulled it toward the hill.
"Now to see what happens," remarked Tom as he wheeled his
latest invention around where the wind would take it as soon
as the restraining ropes were cast off, for it was now held
in place by several heavy cables fastened to stakes driven
in the ground.
Tom gave a last careful look to the weights, planes and
rudders. He glanced at a small anemometer or wind gage, on
the craft, and noted that it registered sixty miles an hour.
"That ought to do," he remarked. "Now who's going up with
me? Will you take a chance, Mr. Petrofsky?"
"I'd rather not--at first."
"Come on then, Ned and Mr. Damon. Mr. Petrofsky and Rad
can cast off the ropes."
The wind, if anything, was stronger than ever. It was a
terrific gale, and just what was needed. But how would the
air glider act? That was what Tom wanted very much to know.
"Cast off!" he cried to the Russian and Eradicate, and
they slipped the ropes.
The next moment, with a rush and whizzing roar, the air
glider shot aloft on the wings of the wind.
"We're certainly going up!" yelled Ned, as he sat beside
Tom in the cabin of the air glider.
"That's right!" agreed the young inventor rather proudly,
as he grasped two levers, one of which steered the craft,
the other being used to shift the weights. "We're going up.
I was pretty sure of that. The next thing is to see if it
will remain stationary in the air, and answer the rudder."
"Bless my top knot!" cried Mr. Damon. "You don't mean to
tell me you can stand still in a gale of wind, Tom Swift."
"That's exactly what I do mean. You can't do it in an
aeroplane, for that depends on motion to keep itself up in
the air. But the glider is different. That's one of its
specialties, remaining still, and that's why it will be
valuable if we ever get to Siberia. We can hover over a
certain spot in a gale of wind, and search about below with
telescopes for a sign of the lost platinum mine.
"How high are you going up?" demanded Ned, for the air
glider was still mounting upward on a slant. If you' ever
scaled a flat piece of tin, or a stone, you'll remember how
it seems to slide up a hill of air, when it was thrown at
the right angle. It was just this way with the air glider--
it was mounting upward on a slant.
"I'm going up a couple of hundred feet at least," answered
Tom, "and higher if the gale-strata is there. I want to give
it a good test while I'm at it."
Ned looked down through a heavy plate of glass in the
floor of the cabin, and could see Mr. Petrofsky and
Eradicate looking up at them.
"Bless my handkerchief!" cried Mr. Damon, when his
attention had been called to this. "It's just like an
"Except that we haven't a bit of machinery on board," said
Tom. "These weights do everything," and he shifted them
forward on the sliding rods, with the effect that the air
glider dipped down with a startling lurch.
"We're falling!" cried Ned.
"Not a bit of it," answered Tom. "I only showed you how it
worked. By sliding the weights back we go up."
He demonstrated this at once, sending his craft sliding up
another hill of air, until it reached an elevation of four
hundred feet, as evidenced by the barograph.
"I guess this is high enough," remarked Tom after a bit.
"Now to see if she'll stand still."
Slowly he moved the weights along, by means of the
compound levers, until the air glider was on an "even keel"
so to speak. It was still moving forward, with the wind now,
for Tom had warped his wing tips.
"The thing to do," said the young inventor, "is to get it
exactly parallel with the wind-strata, so that the gale will
blow through the two sets of planes, just as the wind blows
through a box kite. Only we have no string to hold us from
moving. We have to depend on the equalization of friction on
the surfaces of the wings. I wonder if I can do it."
It was a delicate operation, and Tom had not had much
experience in that sort of thing, for his other airships and
aeroplanes worked on an entirely different principle. But he
moved the weights along, inch by inch, and flexed the tips,
planes and rudders until finally Ned, who was looking down
through the floor window, cried out
"We're stationary!"
"Good!" exclaimed Tom. "Then it's a success."
"And we can go to Siberia?" added Mr. Damon.
"Sure," assented the young inventor. "And if we have luck
we'll rescue Mr. Petrofsky's brother, and get a lot of
platinum that will be more valuable than gold."
It would not be true to say that the air glider was
absolutely stationary. There was a slight forward motion,
due to the fact that it was not yet perfected, and also
because Tom was not expert enough in handling it.
The friction on the plane surfaces was not equalized, and
the gale forced the craft along slightly. But, compared to
the terrific power of the wind, the air glider was
practically at a standstill, and this was remarkable when
one considers the force of the hurricane that was blowing
above below and through it.
For actually that was what the hurricane was doing. It was
as if an immense box kite was suspended in the air, without
a string to hold it from moving, and as though a cabin was
placed amidships to hold human beings.
"This sure is great!" cried Ned. "Have you got her in
control, Tom?"
"I think so. I'll try and see how she works."
By shifting the weights, changing the balance, and warping
the wings, the young inventor sent the craft higher up, made
it dip down almost to the earth, and then swoop upward like
some great bird. Then he turned it completely about and
though he developed no great speed in this test made it
progress quarteringly against the wind,
"It's almost perfect," declared Tom. "A few touches and
she'll be all right."
"Is it all right?" asked Ivan Petrofsky anxiously, as the
three left the cabin, and Eradicate hitched his mule to the
glider to take it back to the shed.
"I see where it can be improved," he said, as they made
ready to descend. "I'll soon have it in shape."
"Then we can go to Siberia?"
"In less than a month. The big airship needs some repairs,
and then we'll be off."
The Russian said nothing, but he looked his thanks to Tom,
and the manner in which he grasped the hand of our hero
showed his deep feelings.
The glider was given several more trials, and each time it
worked better. Tom decided to change some of the weights,
and he devoted all his time to this alteration, while Ned,
Mr. Damon, and the others labored to get the big airship in
shape for the long trip to the land of the exiles.
So anxious was Tom to get started, that he put in several
nights working on the glider. Ned occasionally came over to
help him, while Mr. Damon was on hand as often as his wife
would allow. Mr. Petrofsky spent his nights writing to
friends in Russia, hoping to get some clew as to the
whereabouts of his brother.
It was on one of these nights, when Tom and Ned were
laboring hard, with Eradicate to help them that an incident
occurred which worried them all not a little. Tom was
adjusting some of the new weights on the sliding rods, and
called to Ned:
"I say, old man, hand me that big monkey wrench, will you.
I can't loosen this nut with the small one. You'll find it
on the bench by that back window."
As Ned went to get the tool he looked from the casement.
He started, stood staring through the glass for a moment
into the outer darkness, and then cried out:
"Tom, we're being watched! There are some spies outside!"
"What?" exclaimed the young inventor "Where are they? Who
are they?"
"I don't know. Those Russian police, maybe out front, and
maybe we can catch them!"
Grabbing up the big monkey wrench, Ned made a dash for the
large sliding doors, followed by Tom who had an iron bar,
and Eradicate with a small pair of pliers.
"By golly!" cried the colored man, "ef I gits 'em I'll
pinch dere noses off!"
Going from the brightly lighted shop into the darkness of
the night, illuminated as it was only by the stars, neither
Tom, Ned, nor Eradicate, could see anything at first. They
had to stand still for a moment to accustom their eyes to
the gloom.
"Can you see them?" cried Tom to his chum.
"No, but I can hear them! Over this way!" yelled Ned, and
then, being able to dimly make out objects, so he would not
run into them, he started off, followed by the young
Tom could hear several persons running away now, but he
could see no one, and from the sound he judged that the
spies, if such they were, were hurrying across the fields
that surrounded the shop.
It was almost a hopeless task to pursue them, but the two
lads were not the kind that give up. They rushed forward,
hoping to be able to grapple with those who had looked in
the shop window, but it was not to be.
The sound of the retreating footsteps became more and more
faint, until finally they gave no clew to follow.
"Better stop," advised Tom. "No telling where we'll end up
if we keep on running. Besides it might be dangerous."
"Dangerous; how?" panted Ned.
"They might dodge around, and wait for us behind some tree
or bush."
"An' ef dat Foger feller am around he jest as soon as not
fetch one ob us a whack in de head," commented Eradicate
"Guess you're about right," admitted Ned. "There isn't
much use keeping on. We'll go back."
"What sort of fellows were they?" asked Tom, when, after a
little further search, the hunt was given up. "Could you see
them well, Ned?"
"Not very good. Just as I went to get you that wrench I
noticed two faces looking in the window. I must have taken
them by surprise, for they dodged down in an instant. Then I
yelled, and they ran off."
"Did you see Andy Foger?"
"No, I didn't notice him."
"Was either of them one of the spies who had Mr. Petrofsky
in the hut?"
"I didn't see those fellows very well, you remember, so I
couldn't say."
"That's so, but I'll bet that's who they were."
"What do you think they're after, Tom?"
"One of two things. They either want to get our Russian
friend into their clutches again, or they're after me--to
try to stop me from going to Siberia."
"Do you think they'd go to such length as that?"
"I'm almost sure they would. Those Russian police are
wrong, of course, but they think Mr. Petrofsky is an
Anarchist or something like that, and they think they're
justified in doing anything to get him back to the Siberian
mines. And once the Russian government sets out to do a
thing it generally does it--I'll give 'em credit for that."
"But how do you suppose they know you're going to Russia?"
"Say, those fellows have ways of getting information you
and I would never dream of. Why, didn't you read the other
day how some fellow who was supposed to be one of the worst
Anarchists ever, high up in making bombs, plotting, and all
that sort of thing--turned out to be a police spy? They get
their information that way. I shouldn't be surprised but
what some of the very people whom Mr. Petrofsky thinks are
his friends are spies, and they send word to headquarters of
every move he makes."
"Why don't you warn him?"
"He knows it as well as I do. The trouble is you can't
tell who the spies are until it's too late. I'm glad I'm not
mixed up in that sort of thing. If I can get to Siberia,
help Mr. Petrofsky rescue his brother, and get hold of some
of that platinum I'll be satisfied. Then I won't go back to
the land of the Czar, once I get away from there."
"That's right. Well, let's go back and work on the
"And we'll have Eradicate patrolling about the shop to make
sure we're not spied on again."
"By golly! Ef I sees any oh 'em, I suah will pinch 'em!"
cried the colored man, as he clicked the pliers.
But there was no further disturbance that night, and, when
Tom and Ned ceased work, they had made good progress toward
finishing the air glider.
The big airship was almost ready to be given a trial
flight, with her motors tuned up to give more power, and as
soon as the Russian exile had a little more definite
information as to the possible whereabouts of his brother,
they could start.
In the days that followed Tom and his friends worked hard.
The air glider was made as nearly perfect as any machine is,
and in a fairly stiff gale, that blew up about a week later,
Tom did some things in it that made his friends open their
eyes. The young inventor had it under nearly as good control
as he had his dirigible balloons or aeroplanes.
The big airship, too, was made ready for the long voyage,
extra large storage tanks for gasolene being built in, as it
was doubtful if they could get a supply in Siberia without
arranging for it in advance, and this they did not want to
do. Besides there was the long ocean flight to provide for.
"But if worst comes to worst I can burn kerosene in my
motor," Tom explained, for he had perfected an attachment to
this end. "You can get kerosene almost anywhere in Russia."
At last word was received from Russia, from some
Revolutionist friends of the exile, stating that his brother
was supposed to be working in a certain sulphur mine north
of the Iablonnoi mountains, and half way between that range
and the city of Iakutsk.
"But it might be a salt mine, just as well," said Mr.
Petrofsky, when he told the boys the news. "Information
about the poor exiles is hard to get"
"Well, we'll take a chance!" cried Tom determinedly.
The preparations went on, and by strict watchfulness none
of the spies secured admission to the shop where the air
glider was being finished. The big airship was gotten in
shape for the voyage, and then, after a final trial of the
glider, it was taken apart and put aboard the Falcon, ready
for use on the gale-swept plains of Siberia.
The last of the stores, provisions and supplies were put
in the big car of the airship, a route had been carefully
mapped out, and Tom, after saying good-bye to Mary Nestor,
his father, the housekeeper, and Eradicate, took his place
in the pilot house of the airship one pleasant morning at
the beginning of Summer.
"Don't you wish you were going, Rad?" the young inventor
asked, for the colored man had decided to stay at home.
"No indeedy, Massa Tom," was the answer. "Dat's a mighty
cold country in Shebeara, an' I laik warm wedder."
"Well, take care of yourself and Boomerang," answered Tom
with a laugh. Then he pulled the lever that sent a supply of
gas into the big bag, and the ship began to rise.
"I guess we've given those spies the slip," remarked Ned,
as they rose from the ground calling good-byes to the
friends they left behind.
"I hope so," agreed Tom, but could he have seen two men,
of sinister looks, peering at the slowly-moving airship from
the shelter of a glove of trees, not far off, he might have
changed his opinion, and so would Ned.
Then, as the airship gathered momentum, it fairly sprang
into the air, and a moment later, the big propellers began
revolving. They were off on their long voyage to find the
lost platinum mine, and rescue the exile of Siberia.
Tom had the choice of two routes in making his voyage to
far-off Siberia. He could have crossed the United States,
sailed over the Pacific ocean, and approached the land of
the Czar from the western coast above Manchuria. But he
preferred to take the Atlantic route, crossing Europe, and
so sailing over Russia proper to get to his destination.
There were several reasons for this.
The water voyage was somewhat shorter, and this was an
important consideration when there was no telling when he
might have an accident that would compel him to descend. On
the Atlantic he knew there would be more ships to render
assistance if it was needed, although he hoped he would not
have to ask for it.
"Then, too," he said to Ned, when they were discussing the
matter, "we will have a chance to see some civilized
countries if we cross Europe, and we may land near Paris."
"Paris!" cried Ned. "What for?"
"To renew our supply of gasolene, for one thing," replied
the young inventor. "Not that we will be out when we arrive,
but if we take on more there we may not have to get any in
Russia. Besides, they have a very good quality in France, so
all told, I think the route over Europe to be the best."
Ned agreed with him, and so did Mr. Petrofsky. As for Mr.
Damon, he was so busy getting his sleeping room in order,
and blessing everything he could think of, that he did not
have time to talk much. So the eastern route was decided on,
and as the big airship, carrying our friends, their
supplies, and the wonderful air glider rose higher and
higher, Tom gradually brought her around so that the pointed
nose of the gas bag aimed straight across the Atlantic.
They were over the ocean on the second day out, for Tom
did not push the craft to her limit of speed, now they had
time to consider matters at their leisure, for they had been
rather hurried on leaving.
The machinery was working as nearly to perfection as it
could be brought, and Tom, after finding out that his craft
would answer equally well as a dirigible balloon or an
aeroplane, let it sail along as the latter.
"For," he said, "we have a long trip ahead of us "and we
need to save all the elevating gas we can save. If worst
comes to worst, and we can't navigate as an aeroplane any
more, we can even drift along as a dirigible. But while we
have the gasolene we might as well make speed and be an
The others agreed with him, and so it was arranged. Tom,
when he had seen to it that his craft was working well, let
Ned take charge and devoted himself to seeing that all the
stores and supplies were in order for quick use.
Of course, until they were nearer the land of the Czar,
and that part of Siberia where Mr. Petrofsky's brother was
held as an exile, they could do little save make themselves
as comfortable as possible in the airship. And this was not
hard to do.
Naturally, in a craft that had to carry a heavy load, and
lift itself into the air, as well as propel itself along,
not many things could be taken. Every ounce counted. Still
our friends were not without their comforts. There was a
well stocked kitchen, and Mr. Damon insisted on installing
himself as cook. This had been Eradicate's work but the
eccentric man knew how to do almost everything from making
soup to roasting a chicken, and he liked it. So he was
allowed free run of the galley.
Tom and Ned spent much time in the steering tower or
engine room, for, though all of the machinery was automatic,
there was need of almost constant attention, though there
was an arrangement whereby in case of emergency, the airship
would steer herself in any set direction for a certain
number of hours.
There were ample sleeping quarters for six persons, a
living room and a dining saloon. In short the Falcon was
much like Tom's Red Cloud, only bigger and better. There was
even a phonograph on board so that music, songs, and
recitations could be enjoyed.
"Bless my napkin! but this is great!" exclaimed Mr. Damon,
about noon of the second day, when they had just finished
dinner and looked down through the glass windows in the
bottom of the cabin at the rolling ocean below them. "I
don't believe many persons have such opportunities as we
"I'm sure they do not," added Mr. Petrofsky. "I can hardly
think it true, that I am on my way back to Siberia to rescue
my dear brother."
"And such good weather as we're having," spoke Ned. "I'm
glad we didn't start off in a storm, for I don't exactly
like them when we're over the water."
"We may get one yet," said Tom. "I don't just like the way
the barometer is acting. It's falling pretty fast."
"Bless my mercury tube!" cried Mr. Damon. "I hope we have
no bad luck on this trip."
"Oh, we can't help a storm or two," answered Tom. "I guess
it won't do any harm to prepare for it."
So everything was made snug, and movable articles on the
small exposed deck of the airship were lashed fast. Then, as
night settled down, our friends gathered about in the
cheerful cabin, in the light of the electric lamps, and
talked of what lay before them.
As Mr. Damon could steer as well as Tom or Ned, he shared
in the night watch. But Mr. Petrofsky was not expert enough
to accept this responsibility.
It was when Mr. Damon finished his watch at midnight, and
called Tom, that he remarked.
"Bless my umbrella, Tom. But I don't like the looks of the
"Why, what's it doing?"
"It isn't doing anything, but it's clouding up and the
barometer is going down."
"I was afraid we were in for it," answered the young
inventor. "Well, we'll have to take what comes."
The airship plunged on her way, while her young pilot
looked at the various gages, noting that to hold her way
against the wind that had risen he would have to increase
the speed of the motor.
"I don't like it," murmured Tom, "I don't like it," and
he shook his head dubiously.
With a suddenness that was almost terrifying, the storm
broke over the ocean about three o'clock that morning. There
was a terrific clap of thunder, a flash of lighting, and a
deluge of rain that fairly made the staunch Falcon stagger,
high in the air as she was.
"Come on, Ned!" cried Tom, as he pressed the electric
alarm bell connected with his chum's berth. "I need you, and
Mr. Damon, too."
"What's the matter?" cried Ned, awakened suddenly from a
sound sleep.
"We're in a bad storm," answered Tom, "and I'll have to
have help. We need more gas, to try and rise above it."
"Bless my hanging lamp!" cried Mr. Damon, "I hope nothing
And he jumped from his berth as the Falcon plunged and
staggered through the storm that was lashing the ocean below
her into white billow of foam.
For a few moments it seemed as if the Falcon would surely
turn turtle and plunge into the seething ocean. The storm
had burst with such suddenness that Tom, who was piloting
his air craft, was taken unawares. He had not been using
much power or the airship would have been better able to
weather the blast that burst with such fury over her. But as
it was, merely drifting along, she was almost like a great
sheet of paper. Down she was forced, until the high-flying
spray from the waves actually wet the lower part of the car,
and Ned, looking through one of the glass windows, saw, in
the darkness, the phosphorescent gleam of the water so near
to them.
"Tom!" he cried in alarm. "We're sinking!"
"Bless my bath sponge! Don't say that!" gasped Mr. Damon.
"That's why I called you," yelled the young inventor.
"We've got to rise above the storm if possible. Go to the
gas machine, Ned, and turn it on full strength. I'll speed
up the motor, and we may be able to cut up that way. But get
the gas on as soon as you can. The bag is only about half
full. Force in all you can!
"Mr. Damon, can you take the wheel? It doesn't make any
difference which way we go as long as you keep her before
the wind, and yank back the elevating rudder as far as
she'll go! We must head up."
"All right, Tom," answered the eccentric man, as he fairly
jumped to take the place of the young inventor at the helm.
"Can I do anything?" asked the Russian, as Tom raced for
the engine room, to speed the motor up to the last notch.
"I guess not. Everything is covered, unless you want to
help Mr. Damon. In this blow it will be hard to work the
rudder levers."
"All right," replied Ivan Petrofsky, and then there came
another sickening roll of the airship, that threatened to
turn her completely over.
"Lively!" yelled Tom, clinging to various supports as he
made his way to the engine room. "Lively, all hands, or
we'll be awash in another minute!"
And indeed it seemed that this might be so, for with the
wind forcing her down, and the hungry waves leaping up, as
if to clutch her to themselves, the Falcon was having
anything but an easy time of it.
It was the work of but an instant however, when Tom
reached the engine room, to jerk the accelerator lever
toward him, and the motor responded at once. With a low,
humming whine the wheels and gears redoubled their speed,
and the great propellers beat the air with fiercer strokes.
At the same time Tom heard the hiss of the gas as it
rushed into the envelope from the generating machine, as Ned
opened the release valve.
"Now we ought to go up," the young inventor murmured, as
he anxiously watched the barograph, and noted the position
of the swinging pendulum which told of the roll and dip of
the air craft.
For a moment she hung in the balance, neither the
increased speed of the propellers, nor the force of the gas
having any seeming effect. Mr. Damon and the Russian,
clinging to the rudder levers, to avoid being dashed against
the sides of the pilot house, held them as far back as they
could, to gain the full power of the elevation planes. But
even this seemed to do no good.
The power of the gale was such, that, even with the motor
and gas machine working to their limit, the Falcon only held
her own. She swept along, barely missing the crests of the
giant waves.
"She's got to go up! She's got to go up!" cried Tom
desperately, as if by very will power he could send her
aloft. And then, when there came a lull in the fierce
blowing of the wind, the elevation rudder took hold, and
like a bird that sees the danger below, and flies toward the
clouds, the airship shot up suddenly.
"That's it!" cried Tom in relief, as he noted the needle
of the barograph swinging over, indicating an everincreasing
height. "Now we're safe."
They were not quite yet, but at last the power of
machinery had prevailed over that of the elements. Through
the pelting rain, and amid the glare of the lightning, and
the thunder of heaven's artillery, the airship forced her
way, up and up and up.
Setting the motor controller to give the maximum power
until he released it, Tom hastened to the gas-generating
apparatus. He found Ned attending to it, so that it was now
working satisfactorily.
"How about it, Tom?" cried his chum anxiously.
"All right now, Ned, but it was a close shave! I thought
we were done for, platinum mine, rescue of exiles, and all."
"So did I. Shall I keep on with the gas?"
"Yes, until the indicator shows that the bag is full. I'm
going to the pilot house."
Running there, Tom found that Mr. Damon and the Russian
had about all they could manage. The young inventor helped
them and then, when the Falcon was well started on her
upward course, Tom set the automatic steering machine, and
they had a breathing spell.
To get above the sweep of the blast was no easy task, for
the wind strata seemed to be several miles high, and Tom
did not want to risk an accident by going to such an
elevation. So, when having gone up about a mile, he found a
comparatively calm area he held to that, and the Falcon sped
along with the occupants feeling fairly comfortable, for
there was no longer that rolling and tumbling motion.
The storm kept up all night, but the danger was
practically over, unless something should happen to the
machinery, and Tom and Ned kept careful watch to prevent
this. In the morning they could look down on the storm-swept
ocean below them, and there was a feeling of thankfulness in
their hearts that they were not engulfed in it.
"This is a pretty hard initiation for an amateur, remarked
Mr. Petrofsky. "I never imagined I should be as brave as
this in an airship in a storm."
"Oh, you can get used to almost anything," commented Mr.
It was three days before the storm blew itself out and
then came pleasant weather, during which the Falcon flew
rapidly along. Our friends busied themselves about many
things, talked of what lay before them, and made such plans
as they could.
It was the evening of the fifth day, and they expected to
sight the coast of France in the morning. Tom was in the
pilot house, setting the course for the night run, and Ned
had gone to the engine room to look after the oiling of the
Hardly had he reached the compartment than there was a
loud report, a brilliant flash of fire, and the machinery
stopped dead.
"What is it?" cried Tom, as he came in on the run, for the
indicators in the pilot house had told him something was
"An accident!" cried Ned. "A breakdown, Tom! What shall we
There was an ominous silence in the engine room, following
the flash and the report. The young inventor took in every
bit of machinery in a quick glance, and he saw at once that
the main dynamo and magneto had short-circuited, and gone
out of commission. Almost instantly the airship began to
sink, for the propellers had ceased revolving.
"Bless my barograph!" cried Mr. Damon, appearing on the
scene. "We're sinking, Tom!"
"It's all right," answered our hero calmly. "It's a bad
accident, and may delay us, but there's no danger. Ned,
start up the gas machine," for they were progressing as an
aeroplane then. "Start that up, and we'll drift along as a
"Of course! Why didn't I think of that!" exclaimed Ned,
somewhat provoked at his own want of thought. The airship
was going down rapidly, but it was the work of but a moment
to start the generator, and then the earthward motion was
"We'll have to take our chance of being blown to France,"
remarked Tom, as he went over to look at the broken
electrical machinery. "But we ought to fetch the coast by
morning with this wind. Lucky it's blowing our way."
"Then you can't use the propellers?" asked Mr. Petrofsky.
"No," replied Tom, "but if we get to France I can easily
repair this break. It's the platinum bearings again. I do
hope we'll locate that lost mine, for I need a supply of
good reliable metal.
"Then we'll have to land in France?" asked the Russian,
and he seemed a trifle uneasy.
"Yes," answered Tom. "Don't you want to?"
"Well, I was thinking of our safety."
"Bless my silk hat!" cried Mr. Damon. "Where is the danger
of landing there? I rather hoped we could spend some time in
"There is no particular danger, unless it be comes known
that I am an escaped exile, and that we are on our way to
Siberia to rescue another one, and try to find the platinum
mine. Then we would be in danger."
"But how are they to know it?" asked Ned, who had come
back from the gas machine.
"France, especially in Paris and the larger cities, is a
hot-bed of political spies," answered Mr. Petrofsky. Russia
has many there on the secret police, and while the objectors
to the Czar's government are also there, they could do
little to help us."
"I guess they won't find out about us unless we give it
away," was Tom's opinion.
"I'm afraid they will," was the reply of the Russian.
"Undoubtedly word has been cabled by the spies who annoyed
us in Shopton, that we are on our way over here. Of course
they can't tell where we might land, but as soon as we do
land the news will be flashed all over, and the word will
come back that we are enemies of Russia. You can guess the
"Then let's go somewhere else," suggested Mr. Damon.
"It would be the same anywhere in Europe," replied Ivan
Petrofsky. "There are spies in all the large centres."
"Well, I've got to go to Paris, or some large city to get
the parts I need," said Tom. "Unfortunately I didn't bring
any along for the dynamo and magneto, as I should have done,
and I can't get the necessary pieces in a small town. I'll
have to depend on some big machine shop. But we might land
in some little-frequented place, and I could go in to town
"That might answer," spoke the Russian, and it was decided
to try that.
Meanwhile it was somewhat doubtful whether they would
reach France, for they were dependent on the wind. But it
seemed to be blowing steadily in the desired direction, and
Tom noted with satisfaction that their progress was
comparatively fast. He tried to repair the broken machinery
but found that he could not, though he spent much of the
night over it.
"Hurrah!" cried Ned when morning came, and he had taken an
observation. "There's some kind of land over there."
The wind freshened while they were at breakfast and using
more gas so as to raise them higher Tom directed the course
of his airship as best he could. He wanted to get high
enough so that if they passed over a city they would not be
At noon it could be seen through the glass that they were
over the outskirts of some large place, and after the
Russian had taken an observation he exclaimed:
"The environs of Paris! We must not land there!"
"We won't, if the wind holds out," remarked Tom and this
good fortune came to them. They succeeded in landing in a
field not far from a small village, and though several
farmers wondered much as the sight of the big airship, it
was thought by the platinum-seekers that they would be
comparatively safe.
"Now to get the first train for Paris and get the things I
need," exclaimed Tom. He set to work taking off the broken
pieces that they might be duplicated, and then, having
inquired at an inn for the nearest railroad station, and
having hired a rig, the young inventor set off.
"Can you speak French?" asked Mr. Petrofsky. "If not I
might be of service, but if I go to Paris I might be
"Never mind," interrupted Tom. "I guess I can parley enough
to get along with."
He had a small knowledge of the tongue, and with that, and
knowing that English was spoken in many places, he felt that
he could make out. And indeed he had no trouble. He easily
found his way about the gay capital, and located a machine
shop where a specialty was made of parts for automobile and
airship motors. The proprietor, knowing the broken pieces
belonged to an aeroplane, questioned Tom about his craft but
the young inventor knew better than to give any clew that
might make trouble, so he returned evasive answers.
It was nearly night when he got back to the place where he
had left the Falcon, and he found a curious crowd of rustics
grouped about it.
"Has anything happened?" he asked of his friends.
"No, everything is quiet, I'm glad to say," replied Mr.
Petrofsky. "I don't think our presence will create stir
enough so that the news of it will reach the spies in Paris.
Still I will feel easier when we're in the air again."
"It will take a day to make the repairs," said Tom, "and
put in the new pieces of platinum. But I'll work as fast as
I can."
He and Ned labored far into the night, and were at it
again the next morning. Mr. Damon and the Russian were of no
service for they did not understand the machinery well
enough. It was while Tom was outside the craft, filing a
piece of platinum in an improvised vise, that a poorlyclothed
man sauntered up and watched him curiously. Tom
glanced at him, and was at once struck by a difference
between the man's attire and his person.
For, though he was tattered and torn, the man's face
showed a certain refinement, and his hands were not those of
a farmer or laborer in which character he obviously posed.
"Monsieur has a fine airship there," he remarked to Tom.
"Oh, yes, it'll do." Tom did not want to encourage
"Doubtless from America it comes?"
The man spoke English but with an accent, and certain
"Maybe so," replied the young inventor.
"Is it permit to inspect the interior?"
"No, it isn't," came from Tom shortly. He had hurt his
finger with the file, and he was not in the best of humor.
"Ah, there are secrets then?" persisted the stranger.
"Yes!" said Tom shortly. "I wish you wouldn't bother me.
I'm busy, can't you see."
"Ah, does monsieur mean that I have poor eyesight?"
The question was snapped out so suddenly, and with such a
menacing tone that Tom glanced up quickly. He was surprised
at the look in the man's eyes.
"Just as you choose to take it," was the cool answer. "I
don't know anything about your eyes, but I know I've got
work to do."
"Monsieur is insulting!" rasped out the seeming farmer.
"He is not polite. He is not a Frenchman."
"Now that'll do!" cried Tom, thoroughly aroused. "I don't
want to be too short with you, but I've really got to get
this done. One side, if you please," and having finished
what he was doing, he started toward the airship.
Whether in his haste Tom did not notice where he was
going, or whether the man deliberately got in his way I
cannot say, but at any rate they collided and the seeming
farmer went spinning to one side, falling down.
"Monsieur has struck me! I am insulted! You shall pay for
this!" he cried, jumping to his feet, and making a rush for
our hero.
"All right. It was your own fault for bothering me but if
you want anything I'll give it to you!" cried Tom, striking
a position of defense.
The man was about to rush at him, and there would have
been a fight in another minute, had not Mr. Petrofsky,
stepping to the open window of the pilot house, called out:
"Tom! Tom! Come here, quick. Never mind him!"
Swinging away from the man, the young inventor rushed
toward the airship. As he entered the pilot house he noticed
that his late questioner was racing off in the direction of
the village.
"What is it? What's the matter?" he asked of the Russian.
"Is something more wrong with the airship?"
"No, I just wanted to get you away from that man.
"Oh, I could take care of myself."
"I know that, but don't you see what his game was? I
listened to him. He was seeking a quarrel with you."
"A quarrel?"
"Yes. He is a police spy. He wanted to get you into a
fight and then he and you would be arrested by the local
authorities. They'd clap you into jail, and hold us all
here. It's a game! They suspect us, Tom! The Russian spies
have had some word of our presence! We must get away as
quickly as we can!"
The announcement of Ivan Petrofsky came to Tom with
startling suddenness. He could say nothing for a moment, and
then, as he realized what it meant, and as he recalled the
strange appearance and actions of the man, he understood the
"Was he a spy?" he asked.
"I'm almost sure he was," came the answer. "He isn't one
of the villagers, that's sure, and he isn't a tourist. No
one else would be in this little out-of-the-way place but a
police official. He is in disguise, that is certain."
"I believe so," agreed Tom. "But what was his game?"
"We are suspected," replied the Russian. "I was afraid a
big airship couldn't land anywhere, in France without it
becoming known. Word must have been sent to Paris in the
night, and this spy came out directly."
"But what will happen now?"
"Didn't you see where he headed for? The village. He has
gone to send word that his trick failed. There will be more
spies soon, and we may be detained or thrown into jail on
some pretext or other. They may claim that we have no
license, or some such flimsy thing as that. Anything to
detain us. They are after me, of course, and I'm sorry that
I made you run such danger. Perhaps I'd better leave you,
"No, you don't!" cried Tom heartily. "We'll all hang
together or we'll hang separately', as Benjamin Franklin or
some of those old chaps once remarked. I'm not the kind to
desert a friend in the face of danger."
"Bless my revolver! I should say not!" cried Mr. Damon.
"What's it all about? Where's the danger?"
They told him as briefly as possible, and Ned, who had
been working in the motor room, was also informed.
"Well, what's to be done?" asked Tom. "Had we better get
out our ammunition, or shall I take out a French license."
"Neither would do any good," answered the Russian. "I
appreciate your sticking by me, and if you are resolved on
that the only thing to do is to complete the repairs as soon
as possible and get away from here."
"That's it!" cried Ned. "A quick flight. We can get more
gasolene here, for lots of autos pass along the road through
the village. I found that out. Then we needn't stop until we
hit the trail for the mine in Siberia!"
"Hush!" cautioned the Russian. "You can't tell who may be
sneaking around to listen. But we ought to leave as soon as
we can."
"And we will," said Tom. "I've got the magneto almost
"Let's get a hustle on then!" urged Ned. "That fellow
meant business from his looks. The nerve of him to try to
pick a quarrel that way."
"I might have told by his manner that something was
wrong," commented Tom, "but I thought he was a fresh tramp
and I didn't take any pains in answering him. But come on,
Ned, get busy."
They did, with such good effect that by noon the machinery
was in running shape again, and so far there had been no
evidence of the return of the spy. Doubtless he was waiting
for instructions, and something might happen any minute.
"Now, Ned, if you'll see to having some gasolene brought
out here, and the tanks filled, I'll tinker with the dynamo
and get that in running shape," said Tom. "It only needs a
little adjustment of the brushes. Then we'll be off."
Ned started for the village where there was a gasolene
depot He fancied the villagers regarded him rather
curiously, but he did not stop to ask what it meant. Another
odd fact was that the usual crowd of curious rustics about
the airship was missing. It was as though they suspected
trouble might come, and they did not want to he mixed up in
Never, Ned thought, had he seen a man so slow at getting
ready the supply of gasolene. He was to take it out in a
wagon, but first he mislaid the funnel, then the straining
cloth, and finally he discovered a break in the harness that
needed mending.
"I believe he's doing it on purpose to delay us," thought
the youth, "but it won't do to say anything. Something is in
the wind." He helped the man all he could, and urged him in
every way he knew, but the fellow seemed to have grown
suddenly stupid, and answered only in French, though
previously he had spoken some English.
But at last Ned, by dint of hard work, got him started,
and rode on the gasolene wagon with him. Once at the
anchored airship, Tom and the others filled the reserve
tanks themselves, though the man tried to help. However he
did more harm than good, spilling several gallons of the
"Oh, get away, and let us do it!" cried Tom at last. "I
know what you--"
"Easy!" cautioned Mr. Petrofsky, with a warning look, and
Tom subsided.
Finally the tanks were full, the man was paid, and he
started to drive away.
"Now to make a quick flight!" cried Tom, as he took his
place in the pilot house, while Ned went to the engine room.
"Full speed, Ned!"
"Yes, and we'll need it, too," said the Russian.
"Why?" asked Tom.
"Look!" was the answer, and Ivan Petrofsky pointed across
the field over which, headed toward the airship, came the
man who had sought a quarrel with Tom. And with the spy were
several policemen in uniform, their short swords dangling at
their sides.
"They're after us!" cried Mr. Damon. "Bless my chronometer
they're after us!"
"Start the motor, Ned! Start the motor!" cried Tom, and a
moment later the hum of machinery was heard, while the
police and the spy broke into a run, shouting and waving
their hands.
Slowly the airship arose, almost too slowly to suit those
on board who anxiously watched the oncoming officers. The
latter had drawn their short swords, and at the sight of
them Mr. Damon cried out:
"Bless my football! If they jab them into the gas bag,
Tom, we're done for!"
"They won't get the chance," answered the young inventor,
and he spoke truly, for a moment later, as the big
propellers took hold of the air, the Falcon went up with a
rush, and was far beyond the reach of the men. In a rage the
spy shook his fist at the fast receding craft, and one of
the policemen drew his revolver.
"They're going to fire!" cried Ned.
"They can't do much damage," answered Tom coolly. "A
bullet hole in the bag is easily repaired, and anywhere else
it won't amount to anything."
The officer was aiming his revolver at the airship, now
high above his head, but with a quick motion the spy pulled
down his companion's arm, and they seemed to be disputing
among themselves.
"I wonder what that means?" mused Mr. Damon.
"Probably they didn't want to risk getting into trouble,"
replied the Russian. "There are strict laws in France about
using firearms, and as yet we are accused of no crime. We
are only suspected, and I suppose the spy didn't want to get
into trouble. He is on foreign ground, and there might be
international complications."
"Then you really think he was a spy?" asked Tom.
"No doubt of it, and I'm afraid this is only the beginning
of our trouble."
"In what way?"
"Well, of course word will be sent on ahead about us, and
every where we go they'll be on the watch for us. They have
our movements pretty well covered."
"We won't make a descent until we get to Siberia," said
Tom, "and I guess there it will be so lonesome that we won't
be troubled much."
"Perhaps," admitted the Russian, "but we will have to be
on our guard. Of course keeping up in the air will be an
advantage but they may--"
He stopped suddenly and shrugged his shoulders.
"What were you going to say?" inquired Ned.
"Oh, it's just something that might happen, but it's too
remote a possibility to work about. We're leaving those
fellows nicely behind," he added quickly, as though anxious
to change the subject
"Yes, at this rate we'll soon be out of France," observed
Tom, as he speeded the ship along still more. The young
inventor wondered what Mr. Petrofsky had been going to say,
but soon after this, some of the repaired machinery in the
motor room needed adjusting, and the young inventor was kept
so busy that the matter passed from his mind.
The dynamo and magneto were doing much more efficient work
since Tom had put the new platinum in, and the Falcon was
making better time than ever before. They were flying at a
moderate height, and could see wondering men, women and
children rush out from their houses, to gaze aloft at the
strange sight. Paris was now far behind, and that night they
were approaching the borders of Prussia, as Mn Petrofsky
informed them, for he knew every part of Europe.
The route, as laid down by Tom and the Russian, would send
the airship skirting the southern coast of the Baltic sea,
then north-west, to pass to one side of St. Petersburg, and
then, after getting far enough to the north, so as to avoid
the big cities, they would head due east for Siberia.
"In that way I think we'll avoid any danger from the
Russian police," remarked the exile.
For the next few days they flew steadily on at no
remarkable speed, as the extra effort used more gasolene
than Tom cared to expend in the motor. He realized that he
would need all he had, and he did not want to have to buy
any more until he was homeward bound, for the purchase of it
would lead to questions, and might cause their detention.
Mr. Damon gave his friends good meals and they enjoyed
their trip very much, though naturally there was some
anxiety about whether it would have a successful conclusion.
"Well, if we don't find the platinum mine we'll rescue
your brother, if there's a possible chance!" exclaimed Tom
one day, as he sat in the pilot house with the exile. "Jove!
it will be great to drop down, pick him up, and fly away
with him before those Cossacks, or whoever has him, know
what's up."
"I'm afraid we can't make such a sensational rescue as
that," replied Mr. Petrofsky. "We'll have to go at it
diplomatically. That's the only way to get an exile out of
Siberia. We must get word to him somehow, after we locate
him, that we are waiting to help him, and then we can plan
for his escape. Poor Peter! I do hope we can find him, for
if he is in the salt or sulphur mines it is a living death!"
and he shuddered at the memory of his own exile.
"How do you expect to get definite information as to where
he might be?" asked Tom.
"I think the only thing to do is to get in touch with some
of the revolutionists," answered the Russian. "They have
ways and means of finding out even state secrets. I think
our best plan will be to land near some small town, when we
get to the edge of Siberia. If we can conceal the airship,
so much the better. Then I can disguise myself and go to the
"Will it be safe?" inquired the young inventor.
"I'll have to take that chance. It's the only way, as I am
the only one in our party who can speak Russian."
"That's right," admitted Tom with a laugh. "I'm afraid I
could never master that tongue. It's as hard as Chinese."
"Not quite," replied his friend, "but it is not an easy
language for an American."
They talked at some length, and then Tom noticing, by one
of the automatic gages on the wall of the pilot house, that
some of the machinery needed attention, went to attend to
He was rather surprised, on emerging from the motor
compartment, to see Mr. Damon standing on the open after
deck of the Falcon gazing earnestly toward the rear.
"Star-gazing in the day time?" asked Tom with a laugh.
"Bless my individuality!" exclaimed the odd man. "How you
startled me, Tom! No, I'm not looking at stars, but I've
been noticing a black speck in the sky for some time, and I
was wondering whether it was my eyesight, or whether it
really is something."
"Where is it?"
"Straight to the rear," answered Mr. Damon, "and it seems
to be about a mile up. It's been hanging in the same place
this ten minutes."
"Oh, I see," spoke Tom, when the speck had been pointed
out to him. "It's there all right, but I guess it's a bird,
an eagle perhaps. Wait, I'll get a glass and we'll take a
As he was taking the telescope down from its rack in the
pilot house, Mr. Petrofsky saw him.
"What's up?" asked the Russian, and the youth told him.
"Must be a pretty big bird to be seen at such a distance
as it is," remarked Tom.
"Maybe it isn't a bird," suggested Ivan Petrofsky. "I'll
take a look myself," and, showing something of alarm in his
manner, he followed Tom to where Mr. Damon awaited them. Ned
also came out on deck.
Quickly adjusting the glass, Tom focused it on the black
speck. It seemed to have grown larger. Me peered at it
steadily for several seconds.
"Is it a bird?" asked Mr. Damon.
"Jove! It's another airship--a big biplane!" cried Tom,
"and there seems to be three men in her."
"An aeroplane!" gasped Ned.
"Bless my deflecting rudder!" cried Mr. Damon. "An airship
in this out-of-the-way place?" for they were flying over a
desolate country.
"And they're coming right after us," added Tom, as he
continued to gaze.
"I thought so," was the quiet comment of Mr. Petrofsky.
"That is what I started to say a few days ago," he went on,
"when I stopped, as I hardly believed it possible. I thought
they might possibly send an aeroplane after us, as both the
French and Russian armies have a number of fast ones. So
they are pursuing us. I'm afraid my presence will bring you
no end of trouble."
"Let it come!" cried Tom. "If they can catch up to us
they've got a good machine. Come on, Ned, let's speed her
up, and make them take more of our star dust."
"Wait a minute," advised the Russian, as he took the
telescope from Tom, and viewed the ever-increasing speck
behind them. "Are you sure of the speed of this craft?" he
asked a moment later.
"I never saw the one yet I couldn't pull away from, even
after giving them a start," answered the young inventor
proudly. "That is all but my little sky racer. I could let
them get within speaking distance, and then pull out like
the Congressional Limited passing a slow freight."
"Then wait a few minutes," suggested Mr. Petrofsky. "That
is an aeroplane all right, but I can't make out from what
country. I'd like a better view, and if it's safe we can
come closer."
"Oh, it's safe enough," declared Tom. "I'll get things in
shape for a quick move," and he hurried back to the machine
room, while the others took turns looking at the on-coming
aeroplane. And it was coming on rapidly, showing that it had
tremendous power, for it was a very large one, carrying
three men.
"How do you suppose they got on our track?" asked Ned.
"Oh, we must have been reported from time to time, as we
flew over cities or towns," replied Mr. Petrofsky. "You know
we're rather large, and can be seen from a good distance.
Then too, the whole Russian secret police force is at the
service of our enemies."
"But we're not over Russia yet," said Mr. Damon.
Ivan Petrofsky took the telescope and peered down toward
the earth. They were not a great way above it, and at that
moment they were passing a small village.
"Can you tell where we are?" asked the odd man.
"We are just over the border of the land of the Czar," was
the quiet answer. "The imperial flag is flying from a staff
in front of one of the buildings down there. We are over
"And here comes that airship," called Ned suddenly.
They gazed back with alarm, and saw that it was indeed so.
The big aeroplane had come on wonderfully fast in the last
few minutes.
"Tom! Tom!" cried his chum. "Better get ready to make a
"I'm all ready," calmly answered our hero. "Shall I go
"If you can give us a few seconds longer I may be able to
tell who is after us," remarked Mr. Petrofsky, turning his
telescope on the craft behind them.
"I can let them get almost up to us, and get away,"
replied Tom.
The Russian did not answer. He was gazing earnestly at the
approaching aeroplane. A moment later he took the glass down
from his eye.
"It's our spy again," he said. "There are two others with
him. That is one of the aeroplanes owned by the secret
police. They are stationed all over Europe, ready for
instant service, and they're on our trail."
The pursuing craft was so near that the occupants could
easily be made out with the naked eye, but it needed the
glass to distinguish their features, and Mr. Petrofsky had
done this.
"Shall I speed up?" cried Tom.
"Yes, get away as fast as you can!" shouted the Russian.
"No telling what they may do," and then, with a hum and a
roar the motor of the Falcon increased its speed, and the
big airship shot ahead.
From the pursuing aircraft came a series of sharp
explosions that fairly rattled through the clear air.
"Look out for bombs!" yelled Ned.
"Bless my safety match!" cried Mr. Damon. "Are they
"It's only their motor hack-firing," cried Tom. "It's all
right, They're done for now, well leave them behind."
He was a true prophet, for with a continued rush and a
roar the airship of our friends opened up a big gap between
her rear rudders and the forward planes of the craft that
was chasing her. The three men were working frantically to
get their motor in shape, but it was a useless task
A little later, finding that they were losing speed, the
three police agents, or spies, whatever they might be, had
to volplane to earth and there was no need for the Falcon to
maintain the terrific pace, to which Tom had pushed her. The
pursuit was over.
"Well, we got out of that luckily," remarked Ned, as he
looked down to where the spies were making a landing. "I
guess they won't try that trick again."
"I'm afraid they will," predicted Mr. Petrofsky. "You
don't know these government agents as I do. They never give
up. They'll fix their engine, and get on our trail again."
"Then we'll make them work for what they get," put in Tom,
who, having set the automatic speed accelerator, had
rejoined his companions. "We'll try a high flight and if
they can pick up a trail in the air, and come up to us,
they're good ones!"
He ran to the pilot house, and set the elevation rudder at
its limit. Meanwhile the spies were working frantically over
their motor, trying to get it is shape for the pursuit. But
soon they realized that this was out of the question, for
the Falcon was far away, every moment going higher and
higher, until she was lost to sight beyond the clouds.
"I guess they'll have their own troubles now," remarked
Ned. "We've seen the last of them."
"Don't be too sure," spoke the Russian. We may have them
after us again. We're over the land of the Czar now, and
they'll have everything their own way. They'll want to stop
me at any cost."
"Do you think they suspect that we're after the platinum?"
asked Tom.
"They may, for they know my brother and I were the only
ones who ever located it, though unless I get in the exact
neighborhood I'd have trouble myself picking it out. I
remember some of the landmarks, but my brother is better at
that sort of work than I am. But I think what they are
mostly afraid of is that I have some designs on the life of,
say one of the Grand Dukes, or some high official. But I am
totally opposed to violent measures," went on Mr. Petrofsky.
"I believe in a campaign of education, to gain for the downtrodden
people what are their rights."
"Do you think they know you are coming to rescue your
brother?" asked Tom.
"I don't believe so. And I hope not, for once they
suspected that, they would remove him to some place where I
never could locate him."
Calmer feelings succeeded the excitement caused by the
pursuit, and our friends, speculating on the matter, came to
the conclusion that the aeroplane must have started from
some Prussian town, as Mr. Petrofsky said there were a
number of Russian secret police in that country. The Falcon
was now speeding along at a considerable height, and after
running for a number of miles, sufficient to preclude the
possibility that they could be picked up by the pursuing
aeroplane, Tom sent his craft down, as the rarefied
atmosphere made breathing difficult.
It was about three days after the chase when, having
carefully studied the map and made several observations
through the telescope of the Country over which they were
traveling, that Ivan Petrofsky said:
"If it can be managed, Tom, I think we ought to go down
about here. There is a Russian town not far away, and I know
a few friends there, There is a large stretch of woodland,
and the airship can be easily concealed there.
"All right," agreed the young inventor, "down we go, and I
hope you get the information want."
Flying high so as to keep out of the observation of the
inhabitants of the Russian town, the young inventor sent his
craft in a circle about it, and, having seen a clearing in
the forest, he made a landing there, the Falcon having come
to rest a second time since leaving Shopton, now several
thousand miles away.
"We'll hide here for a few days," observed Tom, "and you
can spend as much time in town as you like, Mr. Petrofsky,"
The Russian, disguising himself by trimming his beard, and
putting on a pair of dark spectacles, went to the village
that afternoon.
While he was gone Tom, Ned and Mr. Damon busied themselves
about the airship, making a few repairs that could not very
well be done while it was in motion. As night came on, and
the exile did not return, Tom began to get a little worried,
and he had some notion of going to seek him, but he knew it
would not be safe.
"He'll come all right," declared Ned, as they sat down to
supper. All about them was an almost impenetrable forest,
cut here and there by paths along which, as Mr. Petrofsky
had told them, the wood cutters drove their wagons.
It was quite a surprise therefor, when, as they were
leaving the table, a knock was heard on the cabin door.
"Bless my electric bell!" cried Mr. Damon. "Who can that
"Mr. Petrofsky of course," answered Ned.
"He wouldn't knock--he'd walk right in," spoke Tom, as he
went to the door. As he opened it he saw several darkbearded
men standing there, and in their midst Mr.
For one moment our hero feared that his friend had been
arrested and that the police bad come to take the rest of
them into custody. But a word from the exile reassured him.
"These are some of my friends," said Mr. Petrofsky simply.
"They are Nihilists which I am not, but--"
"Nihilists yes! Always!" exclaimed one who spoke English.
"Death to the Czar and the Grand Dukes! Annihilation to the
"Gently my friend, gently," spoke Mr. Petrofsky. "I am
opposed to violence you know." And then, while his new
friends gazed wonderingly at the strange craft, he led them
inside. Tom and the others were hardly able to comprehend
what was about to take place.
"Has anything happened?" asked Tom. "Are we suspected?
Have they come to warn us?"
"No, everything is all right, so far," answered Ivan
Petrofsky. "I didn't have the success I hoped for, and we
may have to wait here for a few days to get news of my
brother. But these men have been very kind to me," he went
on, "and they have ways of getting information that I have
not. So they are going to aid me."
"That's right!" exclaimed the one who had first spoken.
"We will yet win you to our cause, Brother Petrofsky. Death
to the Czar and the Grand Dukes!"
"Never!" exclaimed the exile firmly. "Peaceful measures
will succeed. But I am grateful for what you can do for me.
They heard me describe your wonderful airship," he explained
to Tom, "and wanted to see for themselves."
The Nihilists were made welcome after Mr. Petrofsky had
introduced them. They had strange and almost unpronounceable
names for the ears of our friends, and I will not trouble
you with them, save to say that the one who spoke English
fairly well, and who was the leader, was called Nicolas
Androwsky. There was much jabbering in the Russian tongue,
when Mr. Petrofsky and Mr. Androwsky took the others about
the craft, explaining how it worked.
"I can't show you the air glider," said Tom, who naturally
acted as guide, "as it would take too long to put together,
and besides there is not enough wind here to make it
"Then you need much wind?" asked Nicolas Androwsky.
"The harder the gale the better she flies," answered Tom
"Bless my sand bag, but that's right!" exclaimed Mr.
Damon, who, up to now had not taken much part in the
conversation. He followed the party about the airship,
keeping in the rear, and he eyed the Nihilists as if he
thought that each one had one or more dynamite bombs
concealed on his person.
"Ha!" exclaimed Mr. Androwsky, turning suddenly to the odd
man. "Are you not one of us? Do you not believe that this
terrible kingdom should be destroyed--made as nothing, and a
new one built from its ashes? Are you not one of us?" and
with a quick gesture he reached into his pocket.
"No! No!" exclaimed Mr. Damon, starting back. "Bless my
election ticket! No! Never could I throw a bomb. Please
don't give me one." Mr. Damon started to run away.
"A bomb!" exclaimed the Nihilist, and then he drew from
his pocket some pamphlets printed in Russian. "I have no
bombs. Here are some of the tracts we distribute to convert
unbelievers to our cause," he went on. "Read them and you
will understand what we are striving for. They will convert
you, I am sure."
He went on, following the rest of the party, while Mr.
Damon dropped back with Ned.
"Bless my gas meter!" gasped the odd man, as he stared at
the queerly-printed documents in his hand. "I thought he was
going to give me a bomb to throw!"
"I don't blame you," said Ned in a low voice. "They look
like desperate men, but probably they have suffered many
hardships, and they think their way of righting a wrong is
the only way. I suppose you'll read those tracts," he added
with a smile.
"Hum! I'm afraid not," answered Mr. Damon. "I might just
as well try to translate a Chinese laundry check. But I'll
save 'em for souvenirs," and he carefully put them in his
pocket, as if he feared they might unexpectedly turn into a
bomb and blow up the airship.
The tour of the craft was completed and the Nihilists
returned to the comfortable cabin where, much to their
surprise, they were served with a little lunch, Mr. Damon
bustling proudly about from the table to the galley, and
serving tea as nearly like the Russians drink it as
"Well, you certainly have a wonderful craft here--
wonderful," spoke Mr. Androwsky. "If we had some of these in
our group now, we could start from here, hover over the
palace of the Czar, or one of the Grand Dukes, drop a bomb,
utterly destroy it, and come back before any of the hated
police would be any the wiser."
"I'm afraid I can't lend it to you," said Tom, and he
could scarcely repress a shudder at the terrible ideas of
the Nihilists.
"It would never do," agreed Ivan Petrofsky. "The campaign
of education is the only way."
There were gutteral objections on the part of the other
Russians, and they turned to more cheerful subjects of talk.
"What are your plans?" asked Tom of the exile. "You say
you can get no trace here of your brother?"
"No, he seems to have totally disappeared from sight.
Usually we enemies of the government can get some news of a
prisoner, but poor Peter is either dead, or in some obscure
mine, which is hidden away in the forests or mountains."
"Maybe he is in the lost platinum mine," suggested Ned.
"No, that has not been discovered," declared the exile,
"or my friends here would have heard of it. That is still to
be found."
"And we'll do it, in the air glider," declared Tom. "By
the way, Mr. Petrofsky, would it not be a good plan to ask
your friends the location of the place where the winds
constantly blow with such force. It occurs to me that in
some such way we might locate the mine."
"It would be of use if there was only one place of the
gales," replied the exile. "But Siberia has many such spots
in the mountain fastnesses--places which, by the peculiar
formation of the land, have constant eddys of air over them.
No, the only way is for us to go as nearly as possible to
the place where my brother and I were imprisoned, and search
"But what is that you said about us having to stay here,
to get some news of your brother?" asked Tom.
"I had hoped to get some information here,"
resumed Mr. Petrofsky, "but my friends here
are without news. However, they are going to
make inquiries, and we will have to stay here
until they have an answer. It will be safe, they
think, as there are not many police in town, and
the local authorities are not very efficient. So the
airship will remain here, and, from time to time
I will go to the village, disguised, and see if any
word has come."
"And we will bring you news as soon as we get it,"
promised Mr. Androwsky. "You are not exactly one of us, but
you are against the government, and, therefor, a brother.
But you will be one of us in time."
"Never," replied the exile with a smile. "My only hope now
is to get my brother safely away, and then we will go and
live in free America. But, Tom, I hope I won't put you out
by delaying here."
"Not a bit of it. More than half the object of our trip is
to rescue your brother. We must do that first. Now as to
details," and they fell to discussing plans. It was late
that night when the Nihilists left the airship, first having
made a careful inspection to see that they were not spied
upon. They promised at once to set to work their secret
methods of getting information.
For several days the airship remained in the vicinity of
the Russian town. Our friends were undisturbed by visitors,
as they were in a forest where the villagers seldom came and
the nearest wood-road was nearly half a mile off.
Every day either Mr. Petrofsky went in to town to see the
Nihilists or some of them came out to the Falcon, usually at
"Well, have you any word yet?" asked Tom, after about a
week had passed.
"Nothing yet," answered the exile, and his tone was a bit
hopeless. "But we have not given up. All the most likely
places have been tried, but he is not there. We have had
traces of him, but they are not fresh ones. He seems to have
been moved from one mine to another. Probably they feared I
would make an attempt to rescue him. But I have not given
up. Me is somewhere in Siberia."
"And we'll find him!" cried Tom with enthusiasm.
For three days more they lingered, and then, one night,
when they were just getting ready to retire, there was a
knock on the cabin door. Mr. Petrofsky had been to the
village that day, and had received no news. He had only
returned about an hour before.
"Some one's knocking," announced Ned, as if there could be
any doubt of it.
"Bless my burglar alarm!" gasped Mr. Damon.
"I'll see who it is," volunteered Mr. Petrofsky, and Tom
looked toward the rack of loaded rifles, for that day a man,
seemingly a wood cutter had passed close to the airship, and
had hurried off as if he had seen a ghost.
The knock was repeated. It might be their friends, and it
might be--
But Mr. Petrofsky solved the riddle by throwing back the
portal, and there stood the Nihilist, Nicolas Androwsky.
"Is there anything the matter?" asked the exile quickly.
"We have news," was the cautious answer, as the Nihilist
slipped in, and closed the door behind him.
"News of my brother?"
"Of your brother! He is in a sulphur mine in the Altai
Mountains, near the city of Abakansk."
"Where's that?" asked Tom for he had forgotten most of his
Russian geography.
"The Altai Mountains are a range about the middle of
Siberia," explained Mr. Petrofsky. "They begin at the
Kirghiz Steppes, and run west. It is a wild and desolate
place. I hope we can find poor Peter alive."
"And this city of Abakansk?" went on the young inventor.
"It is many miles from here, but I can give you a good
map," said the Nihilist. "Some of our friends are there," he
added with a half-growl. "I wish we could rescue all of
"We'd like to," spoke Tom. "But I fear it is impossible.
But now that we have a clew, come on! Let's start at once!
It may be dangerous to stay here. On to Siberia!"
The news they had waited for had come at last. It might be
a false clew, but it was something to work on, and Tom was
tired of inaction. Then, too, even after they had started,
the prisoner might be moved and they would have to trace him
"But that is the latest information we could get," said
Mr. Androwsky. "It came through some of our Anarchist
friends, and I believe is reliable. Can you soon make a
thousand miles in your airship?"
"Yes," answered Tom, "if I push her to the limit."
"Then do so," advised the Nihilist, "for there is need of
haste. In making inquiries our friends might incur
suspicions and Peter Petrofsky may be exiled to some other
"Oh, we'll get there," cried Tom. "Ned, see to the gas
machine. Mr. Damon, you can help me in the pilot house."
"Here is a map of the best route," said the Nihilist, as
he handed one to Mr. Petrofsky. "It will take you there the
shortest way. But how can you steer when high in the air?"
"By compass," explained Tom. "We'll get there, never fear,
and we're grateful for your clew."
"I never can thank you enough!" exclaimed the exile, as he
shook hands with Mr. Androwsky,
The Nihilist left, after announcing that, in the event of
the success of Tom and his friends, and the rescue of the
exile from the sulphur mine, it would probably become known
to them, as such news came through the Revolutionary
channels, slowly but surely.
"Here we go!" cried the young inventor gaily, as he turned
the starting lever in the pilot house, and silently, in the
darkness of the night, the Falcon shot upward. There was not
a light on board, for, though small signal lamps had been
kept burning when the craft was in the forest, to guide the
Nihilists to her, now that she was up in the air, and in
motion, it was feared that her presence would become known
to the authorities of the town, so even these had been
"After we get well away we can turn on the electrics,"
remarked Tom, "and if they see us at a distance they may
take us for a meteor. But, so close as this, they'd get wise
in a minute."
Mr. Damon, who had done all that Tom needed in the
starting of the craft, went to the forward port rail, and
idly looked down on the black forest they were leaving. He
could just make out the clearing where they had rested for
over a week, and he was startled to see lights bobbing in
"I say, Mr. Petrofsky!" he called. "Did we leave any of
our lanterns behind us?"
"I don't believe so," answered the exile. "I'll ask Tom."
"Lanterns? No," answered the young inventor. "Before we
started I took down the only one we had out. I'll take a
Setting the automatic steering apparatus, he joined Mr.
Damon and the Russian. The lights were now dimly visible,
moving about in the forest clearing.
"It's just as if they were looking for something," said
Tom. "Can it be that any of your Nihilist friends, Mr.
Petrofsky are--"
"Friends--no friends--enemies!" cried the Russian. "I
understand now! We got away just in time. Those are police
agents who are looking for us! They must have received word
about our being there. Androwsky and the others never carry
lights when they go about. They know the country too well,
and then, too, it leads to detection. No, those are police
spies. A few minutes later, and we would have been
"As it is we're right over their heads, and they don't
know it," chuckled Tom. The airship was moving silently
along before a good breeze, the propellers not having been
started, and Tom let her drift for several miles, as he did
not want to give the police spies a clew by the noise of the
The twinkling lights in the forest clearing disappeared
from sight, and the seekers went on in the darkness.
"Well, we've got the hardest part of our work yet ahead of
us," remarked Tom several hours later when, the lights
having been set aglow, they were gathered in the main cabin.
There was no danger of being seen now, for they were quite
"We've done pretty well, so far," commented Ned. "I think
we will have easier work rescuing Mr. Petrofsky's brother
than in locating the mine.
"I don't know about that," answered the Russian. "It is
almost impossible to rescue a person from Siberia. Of course
it is not going to be easy to locate the lost mine, but as
for that we can keep on searching, that is if the air glider
works, but there are so many forces to fight against in
rescuing a prisoner.
They had a long journey ahead of them, and not an easy
route to follow, but as the days passed, and they came
nearer and nearer to their goal, they became more and more
They were passing over a desolate country, for they
avoided the vicinity of large towns and cities.
"I wonder when we'll strike Siberia?" mused Tom one
afternoon, as they sat on the outer deck, enjoying the air.
"At this rate of progress, very soon." answered the exile,
after glancing at the map. "We should be at the foot of the
Ural mountains in a few hours, and across them in the night.
Then we will be in Siberia."
And he was right, for just as supper was being served,
Ned, who had been making observations with a telescope,
"These must be the Urals!"
Mr. Petrofsky seized the glass.
"They are," he announced. "We will cross between Orsk and
Iroitsk. A safe place. In the morning we will be in Siberia
--the land of the exiles."
And they were, morning seeing them flying over a most
desolate stretch of landscape. Onward they flew, covering
verst after verst of loneliness.
"I'm going to put on a little more speed," announced Tom,
after a visit to the storeroom, where were kept the reserve
tanks of gasolene. "I've got more fluid than I thought I
had, and as we're on the ground now I want to hurry things.
I'm going to make better time," and he yanked over the lever
of the accelerator, sending the Falcon ahead at a rapid
All day this was kept up, and they were just making an
observation to determine their position, along toward supper
time, when there came the sound of another explosion from
the motor room.
"Bless my safety valve!" cried Mr. Damon. "Something has
gone wrong again."
Tom ran to the motor, and, at the same time the Falcon
which was being used as an aeroplane and not as a dirigible,
began to sink.
"We're going down!" cried Ned.
"Well, you know what to do." shouted his chum. "The gas
bag! Turn on the generator!"
Ned ran to it, but, in spite of his quick action, the
craft continued to slide downward.
"She won't work !" he cried.
"Then the intake pipe must be stopped!" answered the young
inventor. "Never mind, I'll volplane to earth and we can
make repairs. That magneto has gone out of business again."
"Don't land here!" cried Ivan Petrofsky.
"Why not?"
"Because we are approaching a large town--Owbinsk I think
it is-the police there will be there to get us. Keep on to
the forest again!"
"I can't!" cried Tom. "We've got to go down, police or no
Running to the pilot house, he guided the craft so that it
would safely volplane to earth. They could all see that now
they were approaching a fairly large town, and would
probably land on its outskirts. Through the glass Ned could
make out people staring up at the strange sight.
"They'll be ready to receive us," he announced grimly.
"I hope they have no dynamite bombs for us," murmured Mr.
Damon. "Bless my watch chain! I must get rid of that
Nihilist literature I have about me, or they'll take me for
one," and he tore up the tracts, and scattered them in the
Meanwhile the Falcon continued to descend.
"Maybe I can make quick repairs, and get away before they
realize who we are," said Tom, as he got ready for the
They came down in a big field, and, almost before the
bicycle wheels had ceased revolving, under the application
of the brakes, several men came running toward them.
"Here they come!" cried Mr. Damon.
"They are only farmers," said the exile. He had donned his
dark glasses again, and looked like anything but a Russian.
"Lively, Ned!" cried Tom. "Let's see if we can't make
repairs and get off again."
The two lads frantically began work, and they soon had the
magneto in running order. They could have gone up as an
aeroplane, leaving the repairs to the gas bag to be made
later but, just as they were ready to start, there came
galloping out a troop of Cossack soldiers. Their commander
called something to them.
"What is he saying?" cried Tom to Mr. Petrofsky.
"He is telling them to surround us so that we can not get
a running start, such as we need to go up. Evidently he
understands aeroplanes."
"Well, I'm going to have a try," declared the young
He jumped to the pilot house, yelling to Ned to start the
motor, but it was too late. They were hemmed in by a cordon
of cavalry, and it would have been madness to have rushed
the Falcon into them, for she would have been wrecked, even
if Tom could have succeeded in sending her through the
"I guess it's all up with us," groaned Ned.
And it seemed to; for, a moment later, an officer and
several aides galloped forward, calling out something in
"What is it?" asked Tom.
"He says we are under arrest," translated the exile.
"What for?" demanded the young inventor.
Ivan Petrofsky shrugged his shoulders.
"It is of little use to ask--now," he answered. "It may be
we have violated some local law, and can pay a fine and go,
or we may be taken for just what we are, or foreign spies,
which we are not. It is best to keep quiet, and go with
"Go where?" cried Tom.
"To prison, I suppose," answered the exile. "Keep quiet,
and leave it to me. I will do all I can. I don't believe
they will recognize me.
"Bless my search warrant!" cried Mr. Damon. "In a Russian
prison! That is terrible!"
A few minutes later, expostulations having been useless,
our friends were led away between guards who carried ugly
looking rifles, and who looked more ugly and menacing
themselves. Then the doors of the Russian prison of Owbinsk
closed on Tom and his friends, while their airship was left
at the mercy of their enemies.
The blow had descended so suddenly that it was paralyzing.
Tom and his friends did not know what to do, but they saw
the wisdom of the course of leaving everything to Ivan
Petrofsky. lie was a Russian, and he knew the Russian police
ways--to his sorrow.
"I'm not afraid, said Tom, when they had been locked in a
large prison room, evidently set apart for the use of
political, rather than criminal, offenders. "We're United
States citizens, and once our counsel hears of this--as he
will--there'll be some merry doings in Oskwaski, or whatever
they call this place. But I am worried about what they may
do to the Falcon."
"Have no fears on that score," said the Russian exile.
"They know the value of a good airship, and they won't
destroy her."
"What will they do then?" asked Tom.
"Keep her for their own use, perhaps."
"Never!" cried Tom. "I'll destroy her first!"
"If you get the chance!" interposed the exile.
"But we're American citizens!" cried Tom, "and--"
"You forget that I am not," interrupted Mr. Petrofsky. "I
can't claim the protection of your flag, and that is why I
wish to remain unknown. We must act quietly. The more
trouble we make, the more important they will know us to be.
If we hope to accomplish anything we must act cautiously."
"But my airship!" cried Tom.
"They won't do anything to that right away," declared the
Russian in a whisper for he knew sometimes the police
listened to the talk of prisoners. "I think, from what I
overheard when they arrested us, that we either trespassed
on the grounds of some one in authority, who had us taken in
out of spite, or they fear we may be English or French
spies, seeking to find out Russian secrets."
They were served with food in their prison, but to all
inquiries made by Ivan Petrofsky, evasive answers were
returned. He spoke in poor, broken Russian, so that he would
not be taken for a native of that country. Had he been, he
would have at once been in great danger of being accused as
an escaped exile.
Finally a man who, the exile whispered to his Companions,
was the local governor, came to their prison. He eagerly
asked questions as to their mission, and Mr. Petrofsky
answered them diplomatically.
"I don't think he'll make much out of what I told him,"
said the exile when the governor had gone. "I let him think
we were scientists, or pleasure seekers, airshipping for our
amusement. He tried to tangle me up politically, but I knew
enough to keep out of such traps."
"What's going to become of us?" asked Ned.
"We will be detained a few days--until they find out more
about us. Their spies are busy, I have no doubt, and they
are telegraphing all over Europe about us."
"What about my airship?" asked Tom.
"I spoke of that," answered the exile. "I said you were a
well-known inventor of the United States, and that if any
harm came to the craft the Russian Government would not only
be held responsible, but that the governor himself would be
liable, and I said that it cost much money. That touched
him, for, in spite of their power, these Russians are
miserably paid. He didn't want to have to make good, and if
it developed that he had made a mistake in arresting us, his
superiors would disclaim all responsibility, and let him
shoulder the blame. Oh, all is not lost yet, though I don't
like the looks of things."
Indeed it began to seem rather black for our friends, for,
that night they were taken from the fairly comfortable,
large, prison room, and confined in small stone cells down
in a basement. They were separated, but as the cells
adjoined on a corridor they could talk to each other. With
some coarse food, and a little water, Tom and his friends
were left alone.
"Say I don't like this!" cried our hero, after a pause.
"Me either," chimed in Ned.
"Bless my burglar alarm!" exclaimed Mr. Damon. "It's an
awful disgrace! If my wife ever heard of me being in jail--"
"She may never hear of it!" interposed Tom.
"Bless my heart!" cried the odd man. "Don't say such
They discussed their plight at length, but nothing could
be done, and they settled themselves to uneasy slumber. For
two days they were thus imprisoned, and all of Mr.
Petrofsky's demands that they be given a fair trial, and
allowed to know the nature of the charge against them, went
for naught. No one came to see them but a villainous looking
guard, who brought them their poor meals. The governor
ignored them, and Mr. Petrofsky did not know what to think.
"Well, I'm getting sick of this!" exclaimed Tom--I wish I
knew where my airship was."
"I fancy it's in the same place," replied the exile. "From
the way the governor acted I think he'd be afraid to have it
moved. It might be damaged. If I could only get word to some
of my Revolutionary friends it might do some good, but I
guess I can't. We'll just have to wait."
Another day passed, and nothing happened. But that night,
when the guard came to bring their suppers, something did
"Hello! we've got a new one!" exclaimed Tom, as he noted
the man. "Not so bad looking, either."
The man peered into his cell, and said something in
"Nothing doing," remarked the young inventor with a short
laugh. "Nixy on that jabbering."
But, no sooner had the man's words penetrated to the cell
of Ivan Petrofsky, that the exile called out something. The
guard started, hastened to that cell door, and for a few
seconds there was an excited dialogue in Russian.
"Boys! Mr. Damon! We're saved!" suddenly cried out Mr.
"Bless my door knob! You don't say so!" gasped the odd
man. "How? Has the Czar sent orders to release us."
"No, but somehow my Revolutionary friends have heard about
my arrest, and they have arranged for our release--secretly
of course. This guard is affiliated with the Nihilist group
that got on the trail of my brother. He bribed the other
guard to let him take his place for to-night, and now
"Yes! What is it?" cried Tom.
"He's going to open the cell doors and let us out!"
"But how can we get past the other guards, upstairs?"
asked Ned.
"We're not going that way," explained Mr. Petrofsky.
"There is a secret exit from this corridor, through a tunnel
that connects with a large salt mine. Once we are in there
we can make our way out. We'll soon be free."
"Ask him if he's heard anything of my airship?" asked Tom.
Mr. Petrofsky put the question rapidly in Russian and then
translated the answer.
"It's in the same place."
"Hurray!" cried Tom.
Working rapidly, the Nihilist guard soon had the cell
doors open, for he had the keys, and our friends stepped out
into the corridor.
"This way," called Ivan Petrofsky, as he followed their
liberator, who spoke in whispers. "He says he will lead us
to the salt mine, tell us how to get out and then he must
make his own escape."
"Then he isn't coming with us?" asked Ned.
"No, it would not he safe. But he will tell us how to get
out. It seems that years ago some prisoners escaped this
way, and the authorities closed up the tunnel. But a cavein
of the salt mine opened a way into it again."
They followed their queer guide, who led them down the
corridor. He paused at the end, and then, diving in behind a
pile of rubbish, he pulled away some boards. A black
opening, barely large enough for a man to walk in upright,
was disclosed.
"In there?" cried Tom.
"In there," answered Mr. Petrofsky. He and the guard
murmured their good-byes, and then, with a lighted candle
the faithful Nihilist had provided, and with several others
in reserve, our friends stepped into the blackness. They
could hear the board being pulled back into place behind
"Forward!" cried the exile, and forward they went.
It was not a pleasant journey, being through an uneven
tunnel in the darkness. Half a mile later they emerged into
a large salt mine, that seemed to be directly beneath the
town. Work in this part had been abandoned long ago, all the
salt there was left being in the shape of large pillars,
that supported the roof. It sparkled dully in the candle
"Now let me see if I remember the turnings," murmured Mr.
Petrofsky. "He said to keep on for half an hour, and we
would come out in a little woods not far from where our
airship was anchored."
Twisting and turning, here and there in the semi-darkness,
stumbling, and sometimes falling over the uneven floor, the
little party went on.
"Did you say half an hour?" asked Tom, after a while.
"Yes," replied the Russian.
"We've been longer than that," announced the young
inventor, after a look at his watch. "It's over an hour."
"Bless my timetable!" cried Mr. Damon.
"Are you sure?" asked Mr. Petrofsky.
"Yes," answered Tom in a low voice.
The Russian looked about him, flashing the candle on
several turnings and tunnels. Suddenly Ned uttered a cry.
"Why, we passed this place a little while before!" he
said. "I remember this pillar that looks like two men
It was true. They all remembered it when they saw it
"Back in the same place!" mused the Russian. "Then we have
doubled on our tracks. I'm afraid we're lost!"
"Lost in a Russian salt mine!" gasped Tom, and his words
sounded ominous in that gloomy place.
For a space of several seconds no one moved or spoke. In
the flickering light of the candle they looked at one
another, and then at the fantastic pillars of salt all about
them. Then Mr. Damon started forward.
"Bless my trolley car!" he exclaimed. "It isn't possible!
There must be some mistake. If we'll keep on we'll come out
all right. You know your way about, don't you, Mr.
"I thought I did, from what the guard told us. but it
seems I must have taken a wrong turning."
"Then it's easily remedied," suggested Tom "All we'll have
to do will be to go to the place where we started, and begin
over again."
"Of course," agreed Ned, and they all seemed more
"And if we start out once more, and get lost again, then
what?" asked Mr. Damon.
"Well, if worst comes to worst, we can go, back in the
tunnel, go to our cells and ask the guard to come with us
and show us the way went on Tom.
"Never!" cried the exile. "It would be the most dangerous
thing in the world to go back to the prison. Our escape has
probably been discovered by this time, and to return would
only be to put our heads in the noose. We must keep on at
any cost!"
"But if we can't get out," suggested Tom, "and if we
haven't anything to eat or drink, we--"
He did not finish, but they all knew what he meant.
"Oh, we'll get out!" declared Ned, who was something of an
optimist. "You've been in salt mines before, haven't you,
Mr. Petrofsky?"
"Yes, I was condemned to one once, but it was not in this
part of the country, and it was not an abandoned one. I
imagine this was only an isolated mine, and that there are
no others near it, so when they abandoned it, after all the
salt was taken out, most people forgot about it. I remember
once a party of prisoners were lost in a large salt mine,
and were missed for several days."
"What happened to them?" asked Tom.
"I don't like to talk about it," replied the Russian with a
"Bless my soul! Was it as bad as that?" asked Mr. Damon.
"It was," replied the exile. "But now let's see if we can
find our way back, and start afresh. I'll be more careful
next time, and watch the turns more closely."
But he did not get the chance. They could not find the
tunnel whence they had started. Turn after turn they took,
down passage after passage sometimes in such small ones that
they almost had to crawl.
But it was of no use. They could not find their way back
to the starting place, and they could not find the opening
of the mine. They had used two of the slow burning candles
and they had only half a dozen or so left. When these were
But they did not like to think of that, and stumbled on
and on. They did not talk much, for they were too worried.
Finally Ned gasped:
"I'd give a good deal for a drink of water."
"So would I," added his chum. "But what's the use of
wishing? If there was a spring down here it would be salt
water. But I know what I would do--if I could."
"What?" asked Mr. Damon.
"Go back to the prison. At least we wouldn't starve there,
and we'd have something to drink. If they kept us we know we
could get free--sometime."
"Perhaps never!" exclaimed Ivan Petrofsky. "It is better
to keep on here, and, as for me, I would rather die here
than go back to a Russian prison. We must--we shall get
But it was idle talk. Gradually they lost track of time as
they staggered on, and they hardly knew whether a day had
passed or whether it was but a few hours since they had been
Of their sufferings in that salt mine I shall not go into
details. There are enough unpleasant things in this world
without telling about that. They must have wandered around
for at least a day and a half, and in all that while they
had not a drop of water, and not a thing to eat. Wait,
though, at last in their desperation they did gnaw the
tallow candles, and that served to keep them alive, and, in
a measure, alleviate their awful sufferings from thirst.
Back and forth they wandered, up and down in the galleries
of the old salt mine. They were merely hoping against hope.
"It's worse than the underground city of gold," said Ned
in hollow tones, as he staggered on. "Worse--much worse."
His head was feeling light. No one answered him.
It was, as they learned later, just about two days after
the time when they entered the mine that they managed to get
out. Forty-eight hours, most of them of intense suffering.
They were burning their last candle, and when that was out
they knew they would have the horrors of darkness to fight
against, as well as those of hunger and thirst.
But fate was kind to them. How they managed to hit on the
right gallery they did not know, but, as they made a turn
around an immense pillar of salt Tom, who was walking weakly
in advance, suddenly stopped.
"Look! Look!" he whispered. "Another candle! Someone--
someone is searching for us! We are saved!"
"It may be the police!" said Ned.
"That is not a candle," spoke the Russian in hollow tones
as he looked to where Tom pointed, to a little glimmer of
light. "It is a star. Friends, we are saved, and by
Providence! That is a star, shining through the opening of
the mine. We are saved!"
Eagerly they pressed forward, and they had not gone far
before they knew that the exile was right. They felt the
cool night wind on their hot cheeks.
"Thank heaven!" gasped Tom, as he pushed on.
A moment later, climbing over the rusted rails on which
the mine cars had run with their loads of salt, they
staggered into the open. They were free--under the silent
"And now, if we can only find the airship," said Tom
faintly, "we can--"
"Look there!" whispered Ned, pointing to a patch of deeper
blackness that the surrounding night. "What's that."
"The Falcon!" gasped Tom. He started toward her, for she
was but a short distance from a little clump of trees into
which they had emerged from the opening of the salt mine.
There, on the same little plane where they had landed in her
was the airship. She had not been moved.
"Wait!" cautioned Ivan Petrofsky. "She may be guarded."
Hardly had he spoken than there walked into the faint
starlight on the side of the ship nearest them, a Cossack
soldier with his rifle over his shoulder.
"We can't get her!" gasped Ned.
"We've got to get her!" declared Tom. "We'll die if we
"But the guards! They'll arrest us!" said the exile.
An instant later a second soldier joined the first, and
they could be seen conversing. They then resumed their
pacing around the anchored craft. Evidently they were
waiting for the escaped prisoners to come up when they would
give the alarm and apprehend them.
"What can we do?" asked Mr. Damon.
"I have a plan," said Tom weakly. "It's the only chance,
for we're not strong enough to tackle them. Every time they
go around on the far side of the airship we must creep
forward. When they come on this side we'll lie down. I doubt
if they can see us. Once we are on hoard we can cut the
ropes, and start off. Everything is all ready for a start if
they haven't monkeyed with her, and I don't think they have.
We've got room enough to run along as an aeroplane and mount
upward. It's our only hope."
The others agreed, and they put the plan into operation.
When the Cossack guards were out of sight the escaped
prisoners crawled forward, and when the soldiers came into
view our friends waited in silence.
It took several minutes of alternate creeping and waiting
to do this, but it was accomplished at last and unseen they
managed to slip aboard Then it was the work of but a moment
to cut the restraining ropes.
Silently Tom crept to the motor room. He had to work in
absolute darkness, for the gleam of a light would have
drawn the fire of the guards. But the youth knew every inch
of his invention. The only worriment was whether or not the
motor would start up after the break-down, not having been
run since it was so hastily repaired. Still he could only
He looked out, and saw the guards pacing back and forth.
They did not know that the much-sought prisoners were within
a few feet of them.
Ned was in the pilot house. He could see a clear field in
front of him.
Suddenly Tom pulled the starting lever. There was a little
clicking, followed by silence. Was the motor going to
revolve? It answered the next moment with a whizz and a
"Here we go!" cried the young inventor, as the big machine
shot forward on her flight. "Now let them stop us!"
Forward she went until Ned, knowing by the speed that she
had momentum enough, tilted the elevation rudder, and up she
shot, while behind, on the ground, wildly running to and
fro, and firing their rifles, were the two amazed guards.
"Have we--have we time to get a drink?" gasped Ned, when
the aeroplane, now on a level keel, had been shooting
forward about three minutes. Already it was beyond the reach
of the rifles.
"Yes, but take only a little," cautioned Tom. "Oh! it
doesn't seem possible that we are free!"
He switched on a few interior lights, and by their glow
the faint and starving platinum-seekers found water and
food. Their craft had, apparently, not been touched in their
absence, and the machinery ran well.
Cautiously they ate and drank, feeling their strength come
back to them, and then they removed the traces of their
terrible imprisonment, and set about in ease and comfort,
talking of what they had suffered.
Onward sped the aeroplane, onward through the night, and
then Tom, having set the automatic steering gear, all fell
into heavy slumbers that lasted until far into the next day.
When the young inventor awoke he looked below and could
see nothing--nothing but a sea of mist.
"What's this?" he cried. "Are we above the clouds, or in a
fog over some inland sea?"
He was quite worried, until Ivan Petrofsky informed him
that they were in the midst of a dense fog, which was common
over that part of Siberia,
"But where are we?" asked Ned.
"About over the province of Irtutsk," was the answer. "We
are heading north," he went on, as he looked at the compass,
"and I think about right to land somewhere near where my
brother is confined in the sulphur mine."
"That's so; we've got to drop," said Tom. "I must get the
gas pipe repaired. I wish we could see over what soft of a
place we were so as to know whether it would be safe to
land. I wish the mist would clear away."
It did, about noon, and they noted that they were over a
desolate stretch of country, in which it would be safe to
make a landing.
Bringing the aeroplane down on as smooth a spot as he
could pick out, Tom and Ned were soon at work clearing out
the clogged pipe of the gas generator. They had to take it
out in the open air, as the fumes were unpleasant, and it
was while working over it that they saw a shadow thrown on
the ground in front of them. Startled they looked up, to see
a burly Russian staring at them.
The sudden appearance of a man in that lonely spot, his
calm regard of the lads, his stealthy approach, which had
made it possible for him to be almost upon them before they
were aware of his presence, all this made them suspicious of
danger. Tom gave a quick glance about, however, and saw no
others--no Cossack soldiers, and as he looked a second time
at the man he noted that he was poorly dressed, that his
shoes were ragged, his whole appearance denoting that he had
traveled far, and was weary and ill.
"What do you make of this, Ned?" asked Tom, in a low
"I don't know what to make of it. He can't be an officer,
in that rig, and he has no one with him. I guess we haven't
anything to be afraid of. I'm going to ask him what he
Which Tom did in his plainest English. At once the man
broke into a stream of confused Russian, and he kept it up
until Tom held up his hand for silence.
"I'm sorry, but I can't understand you," said the young
inventor. "I'll call some one who can, though," and, raising
his voice, he summoned Ivan Petrofsky who, with Mr. Damon,
was inside the airship doing some small repairs.
"There's a Russian out here, Mr. Petrofsky," said Tom,
"and what he wants I can't make out."
The exile was quickly on the scene and, after a first
glance at the man, hurried up to him, grasped him by the
hand and at once the two were talking such a torrent of
hard-sounding words that Tom and Ned looked at each other
helplessly, while Mr. Damon, who had come out, exclaimed:
"Bless my dictionary! they must know each other."
For several minutes the two Russians kept up their rapidfire
talk and then Mr. Petrofsky, evidently realizing that
his friends must wonder at it, turned to them and said:
"This is a very strange thing. This man is an escaped
convict, as I once was. I recognized him by certain signs as
soon as I saw him, though I had never met him before. There
are certain marks by which a Siberian exile can never be
forgotten," he added significantly. "He made his escape from
the mines some time ago, and has suffered great hardships
since. The revolutionists help him when they can, but he has
to keep in concealment and travels from town to town as best
he may. He has heard of our airship, I suppose from
inquiries the revolutionists have been making in our behalf,
and when he unexpectedly came upon us just now he was not
frightened, as an ordinary peasant would have been. But he
did not know I was aboard."
"And does he know you?" asked Tom. "Does he know you are
trying to rescue your brother?"
"No, but I will tell him."
There was another exchange of the Russian language, and it
seemed to have a surprising result. For, no sooner had Ivan
Petrofsky mentioned his brother, than the other, whose name
was Alexis Borious seemed greatly excited. Mr. Petrofsky was
equally so at the reply his new acquaintance made, and
fairly shouted to Tom, Ned and Mr. Damon.
"Friends, I have unexpected good news! It is well that we
met this man or we would have gone many miles out of our
way. My brother has been moved to another mine since the
revolutionists located him for me. He is in a lonely
district many miles from here. This man was in the same mine
with him, until my brother was transferred, and then Mr.
Borious escaped. We will have to change our plans."
"And where are we to head for now?" asked Tom.
"Near to the town of Haskaski, where my poor brother is
working in a sulphur mine!"
"Then let's get a move on!" cried Tom with enthusiasm. "Do
you think this man will come with us, Mr. Petrofsky, to help
in the rescue, and show us the place?"
"He says he will," translated the exile, "though he is
much afraid of our strange craft. Still he knows that to
trust himself to it is better than being captured, and sent
back to the mines to starve to death!"
"Good!" cried Tom. "And if he wants to, and all goes well,
we'll take him out of Russia with us. Now get busy, Ned, and
we'll have this machine in shape again soon.
While Ivan Petrofsky took his new friend inside, and
explained to him about the workings of the Falcon, Tom and
Ned labored over the gas machine with such good effect that
by night it was capable of being used. Then they went
aloft, and making a change in their route, as suggested by
Mr. Borious, they headed for the desolate sulphur region.
For several days they sailed on, and gradually a plan of
rescue was worked out. According to the information of the
newcomer, the best way to save Mr. Petrofsky's brother was
to make the attempt when the prisoners were marched back
from the mines to the barracks where they were confined.
"It will be dark then," said Mr. Borious, "and if you can
hover in your airship near at hand, and if Mr. Petrofsky can
call out to his brother to run to him, we can take him up
with us and get away before the guards know what we are
"But aren't the prisoners chained?" asked Tom.
"No, they depend on guards to prevent escapes."
"Then we'll try that way," decided the young inventor.
On and on they sailed, the Falcon working admirably. Verst
after verst was covered, and finally, one morning, Mr.
Borious, who knew the country well, from having once been a
prisoner there, said:
"We are now near the place. If we go any closer we may be
observed. We had better remain hidden in some grove of trees
so that at nightfall we can go forth to the rescue."
"But how can we find it after dark?" asked Ned.
"You can easily tell by the lights in the barracks," was
the answer. "I can stand in the pilot house to direct you,
for nearly all these exile prisons are alike. The prisoners
will march in a long line from the mine. Then for the
It was tedious waiting that day, but it had to be done,
and to Tom, who was anxious to effect the rescue, and
proceed to the place of the winds to try his air glider, it
seemed as if dusk would never come as they remained in
But night finally approached and then the great airship
went silently aloft, ready to hover over the prison ground.
Fortunately there was little wind; and she could be used as
a balloon, thus avoiding the noise of the motor.
"The next thing I do, when I get home," remarked Tom, as
they drifted along. "Will be to make a silent airship. I
think they would be very useful."
With Mr. Borious in the pilot house, to point out the way,
Tom steered through the fast-gathering darkness. The Russian
had soon become used to the airship, and was not at all
"Can you go just where you want to, as a balloon?" asked
the new guide.
"No, but almost," replied Tom. "At the last moment I've
got to take a chance and start the motor to send us just
where we want to go. That's why I think a silent airship
would be a great thing. You could get up on the enemy before
he knew it."
"There are the prison barracks," said the guide a little
later, his talk being translated by Mr. Petrofsky. Below and
a little ahead of them could been seen a cluster of lights.
"Yes, that looks like a line of prisoners," remarked Ned,
who was peering through a pair of night glasses.
"Where?" asked Tom eagerly, and they were pointed out to
him. He took an observation, and exclaimed:
"There they are, sure enough. Now if your brother is only
among them, Mr. Petrofsky, we'll soon have him on board."
"Heaven grant that he may be there!" said the exile in a
low voice.
A moment later, the Falcon, meanwhile having been allowed
to drift as close as possible to the dimly-seen line of
prisoners, Tom set in motion the great motor, the propeller
blades heating the air fiercely.
At the sound there was a shout on the ground below, but
before the excitement had time to spread, or before any of
the guards could form a notion of what was about to take
place, Tom had sent his craft to earth on a sharp slant,
closer to the line of prisoners than he had dared to hope.
Mr. Petrofsky sprang out on deck, and in a loud voice
called in Russian:
"Peter! Peter! If you are there, come here! Come quickly!
It is I, your brother Ivan who speaks. I have come to save
you--save you in the wonderful airship of Tom Swift! Come
quickly and we will take you away! Peter Petrofsky!"
For a moment there was silence, and then the sound of some
one running rapidly was borne to the ears of the waiting
ones. It was followed, a moment later, by angry shouts from
the guards.
"Quick! Quick, Peter!" cried the brother, "over this way!"
For an instant only the exile showed a single electric
flash light, that his brother might see in which direction
to run. The echo of the approaching footsteps came nearer,
the shouts of the guards redoubled, and then came the sound
of many men running in pursuit.
"Hurry, Peter, hurry!" cried Mr. Petrofsky, and, as he
spoke in Russian the guards, of course, understood.
Suddenly a rifle shot rang out, but the weapon seemed to
have been fired in the air. A moment later a dark figure
clambered aboard the airship.
"Peter, is it you?" cried Ivan Petrofsky, hoarsely.
"Yes, brother! But get away quickly or the whole guard
will be swarming about here!"
"Praise the dear Lord you are saved!"
"Is it all right?" cried Tom, who wanted to make sure they
were saving the right man.
"Yes! Yes, Tom! Go quickly!" called Ivan Petrofsky, as he
folded his brother in his arms. A moment later, with a roar,
the Falcon shot away from the earth, while below sounded
angry cries, confused shouts and many orders, for the guards
and their officers had never known of such a daring rescue
as this.
There was a volley of shots from the prison guards, and
the flashes of the rifles cut bright slivers of flame in the
darkness, but, so rapidly did the airship go up, veering off
on a wide slant, under the skillful guidance of Tom that the
shots did no harm.
"Bless my bullet pouch!" cried Mr. Damon. "They must be
quite excited."
"Shouldn't wonder," calmly observed Ned, as he went to
help his chum in managing the airship. "But it won't do
them any good. We've got our man."
"And right from under their noses, too," added Ivan
Petrofsky exultingly. "This rescue of an exile will go down
in the history of Russia."
The two exile brothers were gazing fondly at each other,
for now that the Falcon was so high, Tom ventured to turn on
the lights.
A moment later the three Russians were excitedly
conversing, while Tom and Ned managed the craft, and Mr.
Damon, after listening a moment to the rapid flow of the
strange language, which quite fascinated him, hurried to the
galley to prepare a meal for the rescued one, who had been
taken away before he had had a chance to get his supper.
His wonder at his startling and unexpected rescue man well
be imagined, but the joy at being reunited to his brother
overshadowed everything for the time being. But when he had
a chance to look about, and see what a strange craft he was
in, his amazement knew no bounds, and he was like a child.
He asked countless questions, and Ivan Petrofsky and Mr.
Borious took turns in answering them. And from now on, I
shall give the conversation of the two new Russians just as
if they spoke English, though of course it had to be
translated by Ivan Petrofsky, Peter's brother.
If Peter was amazed at being rescued in an airship, his
wonder grew when he was served with a well-cooked meal,
while high in the air, and while flying along at the rate of
fifty miles an hour. He could not talk enough about it.
By degrees the story of how Tom and his friends had
started for Russia was told, and there was added the detail
of how Mr. Borious came to be picked up.
"But brother Ivan, you did not come all that distance to
rescue me; did you?" asked Peter.
"Yes, partly, and partly to find the platinum mine."
"What? The lost mine that you and I stumbled upon in that
terrible storm?"
"That is the one, Peter."
"Then, Tom Swift may as well return. I doubt if we can
even locate the district where it was, and if we did find
it, the winds blow so that even this magnificent ship could
not weather the gales."
"I guess he doesn't understand about my air glider," said
Tom with a smile, when this was translated to him. "I wish I
had a chance to put it together, and show him how it works."
"Oh, it will work all right," replied Ned, who was very
proud of his friend's inventive ability.
"Now, what is the next thing to be done?" asked Tom, a
little later that evening, when, supper having been served,
they were sitting in the main cabin, talking over the events
of the past few days. "I'd like to get on the track of that
platinum treasure."
"And we will do all in our power to aid you." said Ivan
Petrofsky. "My brother and I owe much to you--in fact Peter
owes you his life; do you not?" and he turned to him.
"I do," was the firm answer.
"Oh, nonsense!" exclaimed Tom, who did not like to he
praised. "I didn't do much."
"Much! You do not call taking me away from that place--
that sulphur mine--that horrible prison barrack with the
cruel guards--you do not call that much? My, friend," spoke
the Russian solemnly, "no one on earth has done so much for
me as you have, and if it is the power of man to show you
where that lost mine is, my brother and I will do so!"
"Agreed," spoke Ivan quietly.
"Then what plans shall we make?" asked Tom, after a little
more talk. "Are we to go about indiscriminately, or is there
any possible way of getting on the trail?"
"My brother and I will try and decide on a definite
route," spoke Ivan Petrofsky. "It is some time since I have
seen him, and longer since we accidently found the mine
together, but we will consult each other, and, if possible
make some sort of a map."
This was done the next day, the present maps aboard the
Falcon being consulted, and the brothers comparing notes.
They began to lay out a stretch of country in which it was
most likely the lost mine lay. It took several days to do
this, for sometimes one brother would forget some point, and
again the other would. But at last they agreed on certain
"This is the nearest we can come to it," said Ivan
Petrofsky to Tom. "The lost platinum mine lies somewhere
between the city of Iakutsk and the first range of the
Iablonnoi mountains. Those are the northern and southern
boundaries. As for the western one, it is most likely the
Lena river, and the eastern one the Amaga river. So you see
you have quite a large stretch of country to search, Tom
"Yes, I should say I had," agreed the young inventor. But
I have had harder tasks. Now that I know where to head for
I'll get there as soon as possible."
"And what will you do when you arrive?" asked Ned.
"Fly about in the Falcon, in ever-widening circles,
starting as near the centre of that area as possible,"
replied Tom. "And as soon as I run into a steady hurricane
I'll know that I'm at the place of the big winds, and I'll
get out my glider, for I'll be pretty sure to be near the
"Bless my gas meter!" cried Mr. Damon. "That's the talk!"
Tom put his plan into operation at once, by heading the
nose of his craft for the desolate region mapped out by the
Russian brothers.
The days that followed were filled with weary searching.
It was like the time when they had sought for the plain of
the great ruined Temple in Mexico, that they might locate
the underground city of gold. Only in this case they had no
such landmark as a great Aztec ruin to guide them.
What they were seeking for was something unseen, but which
could be felt--a mysterious wind--a wind that might be
encountered any time, and which might send the Falcon to the
earth a wreck.
The Russian brothers, staggering about in the storm, had
seen the mine under different conditions from what it would
be viewed now. Then it was winter in Siberia. Now it was
summer, though it was not very warm.
On and on sailed the Falcon. The weather could not have
been better, but for once Tom wanted bad weather. He wanted
a blow--the harder the better--and all eyes anxiously
watched the anemometer, or wind gage. But ever it revolved
lazily about in the gentle breeze.
"Oh, for a hurricane!" cried Tom.
He got his wish sooner than he anticipated. It was about
two days after this, when they were going about in a great
circle, about two hundred miles from the imaginary centre of
the district in which the mine lay, that, as Mr. Damon was
getting dinner a dish he was carrying to the table was
suddenly whisked out of his hand.
"I say, what's the matter?" he cried. "Bless my--"
But he had no time to say more. The airship fairly stood
on end, and then, turning completely about, was rapidly
driven in the opposite direction, though her propellers were
working rapidly.
"What's up?" yelled Ned.
"We are capsizing!" shouted Ivan Petrofsky, and indeed it
seemed so, for the airship was being forced over.
"I guess we've struck what we want!" cried Tom. "We're in
a hurricane all right! This is the place of the big wind!
Now for my air glider, if I can get the airship to earth
without being wrecked! Ned, lend a hand! We've got our work
cut out for us now!"
For several moments it seemed as if disaster would
overtake the little band of platinum-hunters. In spite of
all that Tom and Ned could do, the Falcon was whipped about
like a feather in the wind. Sometimes she was pointing her
nose to the clouds, and again earthward. Again she would be
whirling about in the grip of the hurricane, like some
fantastic dancer, and again she would roll dangerously. Had
she turned turtle it probably would have been the last of
her and of all on board.
"Yank that deflecting lever as far down as it will go!"
yelled Tom to his chum.
"I am. She won't go any farther."
"All right, hold her so. Mr. Damon, let all the gas out of
the bag. I want to be as heavy as possible, and get to earth
as soon as we can."
"Bless my comb and brush!" cried the odd man. "I don't
know what's going to become of us."
"You will know, pretty soon, if the gas isn't let out!"
retorted Tom grimly, and then Mr. Damon hastened to the
generator compartment, and opened the emergency outlet.
Finally, by crowding on all the possible power, so that
the propellers and deflecting rudders forced the craft down,
Tom was able to get out of the grip of the hurricane, and
landed just beyond the zone of it on the ground.
"Whew! That was a narrow squeak!" cried Ned, as he got
out. "How'd you do it, Tom?"
"I hardly know myself. But it's evident that we're on the
right spot now."
"But the wind has stopped blowing," said Mr. Damon. "It
was only a gust."
"It was the worst kind of a gust I ever want to see,"
declared the young inventor. "My air glider ought to work to
perfection in that. If you think the wind has died out, Mr.
Damon, just walk in that direction," and Tom pointed off to
the left.
"Bless my umbrella, I will," was the reply and the odd man
started off. He had not gone far, before he was seen to put
his hand to his cap. Still he kept on.
"He's getting into the blow-zone," said Tom in a low
The next moment Mr. Damon was seen to stagger and fall,
while his cap was whisked from his head, and sent high into
the air, almost instantly disappearing from sight.
"Some wind that," murmured Ned, in rather awe-struck
"That's so," agreed his chum. "But we'd better help Mr.
Damon," for that gentleman was slowly crawling back, not
caring to trust himself on his feet, for the wind had
actually carried him down by its force.
"Bless my anemometer!" he gasped, when Tom and Ned had
given him a hand up. "What happened?"
"It was the great wind," explained Tom. "It blows only in
a certain zone, like a draft down a chimney. It is like a
cyclone, only that goes in a circle. This is a straight
wind, but the path of it seems to be as sharply marked as a
trail through the forest. I guess we're here all right. Does
this location look familiar to you?" he asked of the Russian
"I can't say that it does," answered Ivan. "But then it
was winter when we were here."
"And, another thing," put in Peter. "That wind zone is
quite wide. The mine may be in the middle, or near the other
"That's so," agreed Tom. "We'll soon see what we can do.
Come on, Ned, let's get the air glider out and put her
together. She'll have a test as is a test, now."
I shall not describe the tedious work of re-assembling Tom
Swift's latest invention in the air craft line--his glider.
Sufficient to say that it was taken out from where it had
been stored in separate pieces on board the Falcon, and put
together on the plain that marked the beginning of the wind
It was a curious fact that twenty feet away from the path
of the wind scarcely a breeze could be felt, while to
advance a little way into it meant that one would at once be
almost carried off his feet.
Tom tested the speed of it one day with a special
anemometer, and found that only a few hundred feet inside
the zone the wind blew nearly one hundred miles an hour.
"What is it like inside, I wonder?" asked Ned.
"It must be terrific," was his chum's opinion.
"Dare you risk it, Tom?"
"Of course. The harder it blows the better the glider
works. In fact I can't make much speed in a hundred-mile
wind for with us all on board the craft will be heavy, and
you must remember that I depend on the wind alone to give me
"What do you think causes the wind to blow so peculiarly
here Tom?" went on Ned.
"Oh, it must be caused by high mountain ranges on either
side, or the effects of heat and cold, the air being
evaporated over a certain area because of great heat, say a
volcano, or something like that; though I don't know that
they have volcanoes here. That creates a vacuum, and other
air rushes in to fill the vacant space. That's all wind
is, anyhow, air rushing in to fill a vacuum, or low pressure
zone, for you remember that nature abhors a vacuum."
It took nearly a week to assemble the Vulture, as Tom had
named his latest craft, from the fact that it could hover in
the air motionless, like that great bird. At last it was
completed and then, weights being taken aboard to steady it,
all was ready for the test. Tom would have liked to have
taken all his passengers in the glider, for it would work
better then, but the three Russians were timid, though they
promised to get aboard after the trial.
The test came off early one morning, Tom, Ned and Mr.
Damon being the only ones aboard. Bags of sand represented
the others. The glider was wheeled to the edge of the wind
zone and they took their places in the car. It was hard
work. for the gale, that had never ceased blowing for an
instant since they found its zone, was very strong. But the
glider remained motionless in it, for the wing planes, the
rudders, and equalizing weights had been adjusted to make
the strain of the wind neutral.
"All ready?" asked Tom, when his chum and his friend were
in the enclosed car of the glider.
"As ready as I ever shall be," answered Ned.
"Bless my suspenders! Let her go, Tom, and have it over
with!" cried the odd man.
The young inventor pulled a lever, and almost instantly
the glider darted forward. A moment later it soared aloft,
and the three Russians cheered. But their voices were lost
in the roar of the hurricane, as Tom sent his craft higher
and higher.
It worked perfectly, and he could direct it almost
anywhere. The wind acted as the motive power, the bending
and warping wings, and the rudders and weights controlling
its force.
"I'm going higher, and see if I can remain stationary!"
yelled Tom in Ned's ear. His chum only nodded. Mr. Damon was
seated on a bench, clinging to the sides of it as if he
feared he would fall off.
Higher and higher went the Vulture, ever higher, until,
all at once, Tom pulled on another lever and she was still.
There she hung in the air, the wind rushing through her
planes, but the glider herself as still and quiet as though
she rested on the ground in a calm. She hardly moved a foot
in either direction, and yet the wind, as evidenced by the
anemometer was howling along at a hundred and twenty miles
an hour!
"Success!" cried Tom. "Success! Now we can lie stationary
in any spot, and spy out the land through our telescope. Now
we will find the lost platinum mine!"
"Well, I'm not deaf," responded Ned with a smile, for Tom
had fairly yelled as he had at the start, and there was no
need of this now, for though the wind blew harder than ever
it was not opposed to any of the weights or planes, and
there was only a gentle humming sound as it rushed through
the open spaces of the queer craft.
Tom gave his glider other and more severe tests, and she
answered every one. Then he came to earth.
"Now we'll begin the search," he said, and preparations
were made to that end. The Russians, now that they had seen
how well the craft worked, were not afraid to trust
themselves in her.
As I have explained, there was an enclosed car, capable of
holding six. In this were stores, supplies and food
sufficient for several days. Tom's plan was to leave the
airship anchored on the edge of the wind zone, as a sort of
base of supplies or headquarters. From there he intended to
go off from time to time in the wind-swept area to look for
the lost mine.
There were weary days that followed. Hour after hour was
spent in the air in the glider, the whole party being
aboard. Observation after observation was taken, sometimes a
certain strata of wind enabling them to get close enough to
the earth to use their eyes, while again they had to use the
telescopes. They covered a wide section but as day after day
passed, and they were no nearer their goal, even Tom
optimistic as he usually was, began to have a tired and
discouraged look.
"Don't you see anything like the place where you found the
mine?" he asked of the exile brothers.
They could only shake their heads. Indeed their task was
not easy, for to recognize the place again was difficult.
More than a week passed. They had been back and forth to
their base of supplies at the airship, often staying away
over night, once remaining aloft all through the dark hours
in the glider, in a fierce gale which prevented a landing.
They ate and slept on board, and seldom descended unless at
or near the place where they had left the Falcon. Once they
completely crossed the zone of wind, and came to a calm
place on the other side. It was as wild and desolate as the
other edge.
Nearly two weeks had passed, and Tom was almost ready to
give up and go back home. He had at least accomplished part
of his desire, to rescue the exile, and he had even done
better than originally intended, for there was Mr. Borious
who bad also been saved, and it was the intention of the
young inventor to take him to the United States.
"But the platinum treasure has me beat, I guess," said Tom
grimly. "We can't seem to get a trace of it."
Night was coming on, and he had half determined to head
back for the airship. Ivan Petrofsky was peering anxiously
down at the desolate land, over which they were gliding. He
and his brother took turns at this.
They were not far above the earth, but landmarks, such as
had to be depended on to locate the mine, could not readily
be observed without the glass. Mr. Damon, with a pair of
ordinary field glasses, was doing all he could to pick out
likely spots, though it was doubtful if he would know the
place if he saw it.
However, as chance willed it, he was instrumental in
bringing the quest to a close, and most unexpectedly. Peter
Petrofsky was relieving his brother at the telescope, when
the odd man, who had not taken his eyes from the field
glasses, suddenly uttered an exclamation.
"Bless my tooth-brush!" he cried. "That's a most desolate
place down there. A lot of trees blown down around a lake
that looks as black as ink."
"What's that!" cried Ivan Petrofsky. "A lake as black as
ink? Where?"
"We just passed it!" replied Mr. Damon.
"Then put back there, as soon as you can, Tom!" called the
Russian. "I want to look at that place."
With a long, graceful sweep the young inventor sent the
glider back over the course. Ivan Petrofsky glued his eyes
to the telescope. He picked out the spot Mr. Damon had
referred to, and a moment later cried:
"That's it! That's near the lost platinum mine! "We've
found it again, Tom--everybody! Don't you remember, Peter,"
he said turning to his brother, "when we were lost in the
snow we crawled in among a tangle of trees to get out of the
blast. There was a sheet of white snow near them, and you
broke through into water. I pulled you out. That must have
been a lake, though it was lightly frozen over then. I
believe this is the lost mine. Go down, Tom! Go down!"
"I certainly will!" cried the youth, and pulling on the
descending lever he shunted the glider to earth.
Like a bird descending from some dizzy height, the Vulture
landed close to the pool of black water. It was a small lake
and the darkness must have been caused by its depth, for
later when they took some out in a glass it was as clear as
a crystal. Then, too, there might have been black rocks on
the bottom.
"Can it he possible that we are here at last?" cried Tom,
above the noise of the gale, for the wind was blowing at a
terrific rate. But our friends knew better now how to adjust
themselves to it, and the lake was down in a valley, the
sides of which cut off the power of the gale. As for the
glider it was only necessary to equalize the balance and it
would remain stationary in any wind.
"This is the place! This is the place!" cried Ivan
Petrofsky. "Don't you remember, Peter?"
"Indeed I do! I have good cause to! This is where we found
the platinum!"
"Bless my soul!" cried Mr. Damon. "Where is it, in the
"The mine itself is just beyond that barrier of broken and
twisted trees," replied the elder Russian brother. "It is an
irregular opening in the ground, as though once, centuries
ago, an ancient people tried to get out the precious metal.
We will go to it at once."
"But it is getting late," objected Ned.
"No matter," said Tom. "If we find any platinum we'll stay
here all night, and longer if necessary to get a good
supply. This is better than the city of gold, for we're in
the open."
"I should say we were," observed Mr. Damon, as he bent to
the blast, which was strong, sheltered even as they were.
"Will it be safe to remain all night?" asked Mr. Borious,
with a glance about the desolate country.
"We have plenty of food," replied Tom, "and a good place
to stay, in the car of the glider. I don't believe we'll be
"No, not here," said the elder Petrofsky. "But we still
have to go back across Siberia to escape."
"We'll do it!" cried Tom. "Now for the platinum treasure!"
They went forward, and it was no easy work. For the wind
still New with tremendous force though nothing like what it
did higher up. And the ground was uneven. They had to cling
to each other and it was very evident that no airship, not
even the powerful Falcon, could have reached the place. Only
an air glider would answer.
It took them half an hour to get to the opening of the
ancient mine, and by that time it was nearly dark. But Tom
had thought to bring electric torches, such as he had used
in the underground city of gold, and they dispelled the
gloom of the small cavern.
"Will you go in?" asked Ivan Petrofsky, when they had come
to the place. He looked at Tom.
"Go in? Of course I'll go in!" cried our hero, stepping
forward. The others followed. For some time they went on,
and saw no traces of the precious metal. Then Ned uttered a
cry, as he saw some dull, grayish particles imbedded in the
earth walls of the shaft.
"Look!" he cried.
Tom was at his chum's side in a moment
"That's platinum!" cried the young inventor. "And of the
very highest grade! But the lumps are very small."
"There are larger ones beyond," said the younger Russian
Forward they pressed, and a moment later. coming around a
turn in the cavern where some earth had fallen away,
evidently recently, Tom could not repress a cry of joy. For
there, in plain sight, were many large lumps of the valuable
metal, in as pure a state as it is ever found. For it is
always mixed with other metals or chemicals.
"Look at that!" cried Tom. "Look at that! Lumps as large
as an egg!" and he dug some out with a small pick he bad
brought along, and stuffed them into his pocket.
"Bless my check book!" cried Mr. Damon, "and that stuff is
as valuable as gold!"
"More so!" cried Tom enthusiastically.
"Oh, here's a whopping big one!" cried Ned. I'll bet it
weighs ten pounds."
"More than that!" cried Tom, as he ran over and began
digging it out, and they found later that it did. Platinum
is usually found in small granules, but there are records of
chunks being found weighing twenty pounds while others, the
size of pigeons' eggs, are not uncommon.
"Say, this is great!" yelled Ned, discovering another
large piece, and digging it out.
"I am glad we could lead you to it," said the elder
Russian brother. "It is a small return for what you did for
"Nonsense!" cried Tom. "These must be a king's ransom
here. Everybody dig it out! Get all you can."
They were all busy, but the light of the two torches Tom
had brought was not sufficient for good and efficient work,
so after getting several thousand dollars worth of the
precious metal, they decided to postpone operations until
morning, and come with more lights.
They were at the work soon after breakfast, the night in
the air glider having passed without incident. The treasure
of platinum proved even richer than the Russians had
thought, and it was no wonder the Imperial government had
tried so hard to locate it, or get on the trail of those who
sought it.
"And it's all good stuff!" cried Tom eagerly. "Not like
that low-grade gold of the underground city. I can make my
own terms when I sell this."
For three days our friends dug and dug in that platinum
mine, so many years lost to man, and when they got ready to
leave they had indeed a king's ransom with them. But it was
to be equally divided. Tom insisted on this, as his Russian
friends had been instrumental in finding it. Toward the end
of the excavation large pieces were scarce, and it was
evident that the mine was what is called a "lode."
"Well, shall we go back now?" asked Tom one day, after the
finish of their mining operations. The work was
comparatively simple, as the platinum lumps had merely to be
dug out of the sides of the cave. But the loneliness and
dreariness of the place was telling on them all.
"Can't we carry any more?" asked Ned.
"We could, but it might not be safe. I don't want to take
on too much weight, as my glider isn't as stable as the
airship. But we have plenty of the metal.
"Indeed we have," agreed Ivan Petrofsky. "Much of mine and
my brother's will go toward helping relieve the sufferings
of the Siberian exiles," he added.
"And mine, too," said Alexis Borious.
They started back early the next morning in a more
terrific gale than in any the glider had yet flown. But she
proved herself a stanch craft, and soon they were at the
place where they had left the airship. It was undisturbed.
Four days were spent in taking apart the glider and
packing it on board the Falcon. Then, with the platinum
safely stored away Tom, with a last look at the desolate
land that had been so kind to them, sent his craft on her
homeward way.
It was when they were near the city of Pirtchina, on the
Obi river, that what might have proved a disastrous accident
occurred. They were flying along high, and at great speed,
for Tom wanted to make all the distance he could, to get
out of Siberia the more quickly. They had had a fair passage
so far, and were congratulating themselves that they would
soon be in civilization again.
Suddenly, Mr. Damon, who had been on the after deck,
taking observations through a telescope, came running
forward, crying out:
"Tom! Tom! What is that water dripping from the back part
of the airship?"
"Water?" exclaimed Tom. "No water is dripping from there."
"Come and look," advised Mr. Damon.
The young inventor raced back with him. He saw a thin,
white stream trickling down from the lower part of the
craft. Tom sniffed the air suspiciously.
"Gasolene! It's gasolene!" he cried. "We must have a leak
in the supply tanks!"
He dashed toward the reserve storeroom, and at that
moment, with a suddenness that was startling, the motor
stopped and the Falcon lurched toward the earth.
"All right!" yelled Ned, as soon as he heard Tom's cry.
"I've got her under control. We'll volplane down."
"Is it dangerous? Are we in danger?" asked Peter Petrofsky
of his brother, in Russian.
"I guess there's no danger, where Tom Swift's concerned,"
was the answer. "I have not volplaned much, but it will be
all right I think."
And it was, for with Ned Newton to guide the craft, while
Tom did his best to stop the leak, the craft came gently to
earth on the outskirts of a fairly large Siberian city.
Almost instantly the Falcon was surrounded by a curious
"You had better keep inside," said Ivan Petrofsky to his
brother and Mr. Borious. "Descriptions of you are probably
out broadcast by now, but I am still sufficiently disguised,
I think."
"But what is to be done?" demanded the younger Russian
brother. "If the gasolene is gone, how can we leave here?"
"Trust Tom Swift for that," was the reply. "Keep out of
sight now, there is a large crowd outside."
Tom came from the tank room. There was a despondent look
on his face.
"It's all gone--every drop," he said. "That's what made
the motor stop."
"What's gone?" asked Mr. Damon.
"The gasolene. We sprung a leak in the main tank, somehow,
and it all flowed out while we were flying along."
"Haven't you any more?"
"Not a bit. I was drawing on the reserve tank, hoping to
get to civilization before I needed more. But its too late
now. We will have to--"
"Bless my snow shoes!" cried Mr. Damon. "Don't say we'll
have to stay here--in Siberia! Don't say that. My wife--"
"No, we won't have to stay here if we can get a supply of
kerosene," interrupted Tom. "The motor will burn that. The
only trouble is that we may be detained. The authorities
probably know us by this time, and are on the watch."
"Then get it before they know we are here," advised Ned.
"I'll try," said Tom, and he at once conferred with the
elder Petrofsky. The latter said he was sure kerosene could
be had in town, and, rather than risk going in themselves,
they hired a wagoner who agreed, for liberal pay, to go and
return with a quantity. Until then there was nothing to do
but wait.
Meanwhile the crowd of curiosity seekers grew. They
thronged around the airship, some of them meddling with
various devices, until Tom had to order them away with
One particularly inquisitive man insisted on pulling or
twisting everything, until he happened to touch a couple of
live wires, giving himself quite a shock, and then he ran
away howling. But still the crowd increased, and at last Mr.
Petrofsky said:
"I don't like this, Tom?"
"Why not?" They were all inside the craft, looking out and
waiting for the return of the man with the kerosene. The
leak in the tank had proved to be a small one, and had
quickly been soldered. It had been open a long time, which
accounted for the large amount of gasolene escaping. "What
don't you like, Mr. Petrofsky?"
"So many men surrounding us. I believe some of them are
officers dressed in civilians' clothes, and a Russian
officer never does that unless he has some object."
"And you think the object is--?"
"To capture us."
"If it was that, wouldn't they have done it long ago--when
we first came down?"
"No, they are evidently waiting for something perhaps for
some high official, without whose orders they dare do
nothing. Russia is overrun with officialdom."
And a little later Ivan Petrofsky's suspicion proved true.
There arrived a man in uniform, who spoke fairly good
English, and who politely asked Tom if he would not delay
the start of the airship, again, until the governor could
arrive from his country place to see it.
"We know you are going to leave us," said the Russian with
a smile, "for you have sent for kerosene. But please wait."
"If your governor comes soon we'll wait," replied Tom.
"But we are in a hurry. I wish that kerosene fellow would
get a move on," he murmured.
"Oh, he will doubtless be here soon," said the officer.
"Might I be permitted to come aboard and wait for my chief?"
"Sorry, but it's not allowed," replied our hero, straining
his eyes down the road for a sight of the wagoner. At last
he came, and Tom breathed easier.
But the crowd was bigger, and some of the men, though
poorly dressed, seemed to be persons in authority. Tom had
no doubt but what there was a plot afoot to detain him, and
arrest the exiles, and that there were disguised soldiers in
the throng. But they could not act without the governor's
orders, and he was probably on his way with all haste.
"Lively now, get that kerosene in the tanks!" cried Tom to
the man, motioning in lieu of using Russian. The youth was
not going to meet the governor if he could help it.
Now it was a curious thing, but the more that wagoner and
his helpers seemed to try to hurry, and pour the oil from
the cans into the tank-opening of the airship, the slower
they worked. They got in each others' way, dropped some
cans, spilled others, and in general made such poor work at
it that Tom saw there was something in the wind.
"Ned!" he exclaimed, "they're doing all they can to detain
us. We've got to put that oil in ourselves. Just as we did
the gasolene in France. It's the same sort of a delay game."
"Right, Tom! I'm with you."
"And I'll warn the crowd back, by telling them we are
likely to blow up any minute!" added Ivan Petrofsky, which
warning he shouted in Russian a moment later.
Backward leaped the throng, as though a bomb bad been
thrown into their midst, even the supposed officers joining
in the retreat. The oil wagon was now easy of access, and
Tom and Ned, with Mr. Damon to aid them, hastened toward it.
Then the work of filling the tanks went on in something like
good old, United States fashion.
The last gallon of kerosene had been put aboard, and Tom
and Ned with Mr. Damon, had climbed on deck, when the gaily
uniformed officer, who had requested the delay, came riding
up furiously.
"Hold! Hold! If you please!" he cried. "The governor has
come. He wants to see you."
"Too late!" answered Tom. "Give him our best regards and
ask him to some to the United States if he wants to see us.
Sorry we haven't cards handy. Ned, take the pilot house, and
shoot her up sharp when you get the signal. I'm going to run
the motor. I don't know just how she'll behave on the
"You must remain!" angrily cried the officer.
"The United States doesn't take 'must' from anybody, from
the Czar down!" cried Tom as he disappeared into the motor
room. The window was open, and the youth turned on the power
the official cried again to him:
"Halt! Here comes the governor! I declared you arrested by
his orders, and in the name of the Czar!"
"Nothing doing!" yelled Tom, and then, looking from the
window, he saw approaching a troop of Cossacks, in the midst
of whom rode a man in a brilliant uniform--evidently the
"Stop! Stop!" cried the official.
"Here we go, Ned!" yelled Tom, and turning on more power
the Falcon arose swiftly, before the very eyes of the angry
governor, and his staff of Cossack soldiers.
Up and up she went, faster and faster, the motors working
well on the kerosene. Higher and higher. The governor and
his soldiers were directly below her now.
"Stop! Stop! You must stop. The Imperial governor orders
it!" yelled the officer, evidently his Excellency's aide-decamp.
"We can't hear you!" shouted Tom, waving his hand from the
motor room window, and then, turning on still more power he
flew over the city, taking his friends and the valuable
supply of platinum with him. So surprised were the soldiers
that they did not fire a shot, but had they done so it is
doubtful if much damage could have been done.
"And now for home!" cried Tom, and homeward hound the
Falcon was after a perilous trip through two storms. But
she weathered them well.
In due season they reached Paris again, and now, having no
reason for concealment, they flew boldly down, to change
what remained of the kerosene for gasolene, as the motor
worked better on that. The secret police learned that the
exiles were aboard, but they could do nothing, as the
offenses were political ones, and so Tom kept his friends
Then they started on the long voyage across the Atlantic,
and though they had one bad experience in a storm over that
mighty ocean, they got safely home to Shopton in due season.
There is little more to tell. The platinum proved to be
even more valuable than Tom had expected. He could have sold
it all for a large sum, but he preferred to keep most of
what he had for his inventive work, and he used considerable
of it in his machinery. Ned disposed of his, selling Tom
some at a lower price than market quotations, and the
Russians got a good price for theirs, turning the money into
the fund to help their fellow exiles. Mr. Damon also made a
good donation to the cause, as did Tom and Ned.
Mr. Petrofsky and his brother, with the other exile,
joined friends in New York, and promised to come and see Tom
when they could.
"Well, I suppose you'll take a long vacation now," said
Mary Nestor, to Tom, when he called on her one evening to
present her a unique ring, with the stones set in some of
the platinum he had dug in the Siberian mine.
"Vacation? I have no time for vacations!" said the young
inventor. "I'm soon going to work on my silent airship, and
on some other things I have in mind. I want more
"Oh, you greedy boy!" exclaimed Mary with a laugh.
And what adventures Tom had next will be found in the next
book of this series, which will be entitled, "Tom Swift in
Captivity; Or, a Daring Escape by Airship."
Tom had several offers to give exhibitions in his air
glider, from aviation committees at various meets, but he
"I haven't time," he declared. "I'm too busy."
"You ought to rest," his chum Ned advised him.
"'Bless my alarm clock!' as Mr. Damon would say,"
exclaimed Tom. "The best rest is new work," and then he
began sketching his ideas for a silent motor craft, during
which we will take leave of him for a while.

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