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Tom watched his father anxiously. The young inventor knew the loss had been a heavy one, and he blamed himself for not having been more careful.
"Tell me all about it, Tom," said Mr. Swift at length. "Are you sure the model and papers are gone? How did it happen?"
Then Tom related what had befallen him.
"Oh, that's too bad!" cried Mr. Swift. "Are you much hurt, Tom? Shall I send for the doctor?" For the time being his anxiety over his son was greater than that concerning his loss.
"No, indeed, dad. I'm all right now. I got a bad blow on the head, but Mrs. Blackford fixed me up. I'm awfully sorry---"
"There, there! Now don't say another word," interrupted Mr. Swift. "It wasn't your fault. It might have happened to me. I dare say it would, for those scoundrels seemed very determined. They are desperate, and will stop at nothing to make good the loss they sustained on the patent motor they exploited. Now they will probably try to make use of my model and papers."
"Do you think they'll do that, dad?"
"Yes. They will either make a motor exactly like mine, or construct one so nearly similar that it will answer their purpose. I will have no redress against them, as my patent is not fully granted yet. Mr. Crawford was to attend to that."
"Can't you do anything to stop them, dad? File an injunction, or something like that?"
"I don't know. I must see Mr. Crawford at once. I wonder if he could come here? He might be able to advise me. I have had very little experience with legal difficulties. My specialty is in other lines of work. But I must do something. Every moment is valuable. I wonder who the men were?"
"I'm sure one of them was the same man who came here that night--the man with the black mustache, who dropped the telegram," said Tom. "I had a pretty good look at him as the auto passed me, and I'm sure it was he. Of course I didn't see who it was that struck me down, but I imagine it was some one of the same gang."
"Very likely. Well, Tom, I must do something. I suppose I might telegraph to Mr. Crawford--he will be expecting you in Albany--" Mr. Swift paused musingly. "No, I have it!" he suddenly exclaimed. "I'll go to Albany myself."
"Go to Albany, dad?"
"Yes; I must explain everything to the lawyers and then he can advise me what to do. Fortunately I have some papers, duplicates of those you took, which I can show him. Of course the originals will be necessary before I can prove my claim. The loss of the model is the most severe, however. Without that I can do little. But I will have Mr. Crawford take whatever steps are possible. I'll take the night train, Tom. I'll have to leave you to look after matters here, and I needn't caution you to be on your guard, though, having got what they were after, I fancy those financiers, or their tools, will not bother us again."
"Very likely not," agreed Tom, "but I will keep my eyes open, just the same. Oh, but that reminds me, dad. Did you see anything of a tramp around here while I was away?"
"A tramp? No; but you had better ask Mrs. Baggert. She usually attends to them. She's so kind-hearted that she frequently gives them a good meal."
The housekeeper, when consulted, said that no tramps had applied in the last few days.
"Why do you ask, Tom?" inquired his father.
"Because I had an experience with one, and I believe he was a member of the same gang who robbed me." And thereupon Tom told of his encounter with Happy Harry, and how the latter had broken the wire on the motor-cycle.
"You had a narrow escape," commented Mr. Swift. "If I had known the dangers involved I would never have allowed you to take the model to Albany."
"Well, I didn't take it there, after all," said Tom with a grim smile, for he could appreciate a joke.
"I must hurry and pack my valise," went on Mr. Swift. "Mrs. Baggert, we will have an early supper, and I will start at once for Albany."
"I wish I could go with you, dad, to make up for the trouble I caused," spoke Tom.
"Tut, tut! Don't talk that way," advised his father kindly. "I will be glad of the trip. It will ease my mind to be doing something."
Tom felt rather lonesome after his father had left, but he laid out a plan of action for himself that he thought would keep him occupied until his father returned. In the first place he made a tour of the house and various machine shops to see that doors and windows were securely fastened.
"What's the matter? Do you expect burglars, Master Tom?" asked Garret Jackson, the aged engineer.
"Well, Garret, you never can tell," replied the young inventor, as he told of his experience and the necessity for Mr. Swift going to Albany. "Some of those scoundrels, finding how easy it was to rob me, may try it again, and get some at dad's other valuable models. I'm taking no chances."
"That's right, Master Tom. I'll keep steam up in the boiler to-night, though we don't really need it, as your father told me you would probably not run any machinery when he was gone. But with a good head of steam up, and a hose handy, I can give any burglars a hot reception. I almost wish they'd come, so I could get square with them."
"I don't, Garret. Well, I guess everything is in good shape. If you hear anything unusual, or the alarm goes off during the night, call me."
"I will, Master Tom," and the old engineer, who had a living-room in a shack adjoining the boiler-room, locked the door after Tom left.
The young inventor spent the early evening in attaching a new wire to his motor-cycle to replace the one he had purchased while on his disastrous trip. The temporary one was not just the proper thing, though it answered well enough. then, having done some work on a new boat propeller he was contemplating patenting, Tom felt that it was time to go to bed, as he was tired. He made a second round of the house, looking to doors and windows, until Mrs. Baggert exclaimed:
"Oh, Tom, do stop! You make me nervous, going around that way. I'm sure I shan't sleep a wink to-night, thinking of burglars and tramps."
Tom laughingly desisted, and went up to his room. He sat up a few minutes, writing a letter to a girl of his acquaintance, for, in spite of the fact that the young inventor was very busy with his own and his father's work, he found time for lighter pleasures. Then, as his eyes seemed determined to close of their own accord, if he did not let them, he tumbled into bed.
Tom fancied it was nearly morning when he suddenly awoke with a start. He heard a noise, and at first he could not locate it. Then his trained ear traced it to the dining-room.
"Why, Mrs. Baggert must be getting breakfast, and is rattling the dishes," he thought. "But why is she up so early?"
It was quite dark in Tom's room, save for a little gleam from the crescent moon, and by the light of this Tom arose and looked at his watch.
"Two o'clock," he whispered. "That can't be Mrs. Baggert, unless she's sick, and got up to take some medicine."
He listened intently. Below, in the dining-room, he could hear stealthy movements.
"Mrs. Baggert would never move around like that," he decided. "She's too heavy. I wonder--it's a burglar--one of the gang has gotten in!" he exclaimed in tense tones. "I'm going to catch him at it!"
Hurriedly he slipped on some clothes, and then, having softly turned on the electric light in his room, he took from a corner a small rifle, which he made sure was loaded. Then, having taken a small electric flashlight, of the kind used by police men, and sometimes by burglars, he started on tiptoe toward the lower floor.
As Tom softly descended the stairs he could more plainly hear the movements of the intruder. He made out now that the burglar was in Mr. Swift's study, which opened from the dining-room.
"He's after dad's papers!" thought Tom. "I wonder which one this is?"
The youth had often gone hunting in the woods, and he knew how to approach cautiously. Thus he was able to reach the door of the dining-room without being detected. He had no need to flash his light, for the intruder was doing that so frequently with one he carried that Tom could see him perfectly. The fellow was working at the safe in which Mr. Swift kept his more valuable papers.
Softly, very softly Tom brought his rifle to bear on the back of the thief. Then, holding the weapon with one hand, for it was very light, Tom extended the electric flash, so that the glare would be thrown on the intruder and would leave his own person in the black shadows. Pressing the spring which caused the lantern to throw out a powerful glow, Tom focused the rays on the kneeling man.
"That will be about all!" the youth exclaimed in as steady a voice as he could manage.
The burglar turned like a flash, and Tom had a glimpse of his face. It was the tramp--Happy Harry--whom he had encountered on the lonely road.
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