Tom Swift And His War Tank
by Victor Appleton
"Talking to yourself, Tom. And when you do that it means
there is something in the wind. I hope, as a sort of side
remark, it isn't rain that's in the wind, for the soldiers
over at camp have had enough water to set up a rival
establishment with Mr. Noah. But there's something going on,
isn't there? Bless my memorandum book, but don't tell me
there isn't, or I shall begin to believe I have lost all my
deductive powers of reasoning! I Come in here, after
knocking two or three times, to which you pay not the least
attention, and find you mysteriously murmuring to yourself.
"The last time that happened, Tom, was just before you
started to dig the big tunnel-- No, I'm wrong. It was just
before you started for the Land of Wonders, as we decided it
ought to be called. You were talking to yourself then, when
I walked in on you, and-- Say, Tom!" suddenly exclaimed Mr.
Damon eagerly, "don't tell me you're going off on another
wild journey like that--don't!"
"Why?" asked Tom, smiling at the energy of his caller.
"Because if you are, I'll want to go with you, of course,
and if I go it means I'll have to start in as soon as I can
to bring my wife around to my way of thinking. The last
time I went it took me two weeks to get her to consent, and
then she didn't like it. So if--"
"No, Mr. Damon," interrupted Tom, "I don't count on going
on any sort of a trip--that is, any long one. I was just
getting ready to take a little spin in the Hawk, and if
you'd like to come along--"
"You mean that saucy little airship of yours, Tom, that's
always trying to sit down on her tail, or tickle herself
with one wing?"
"That's the Hawk!" laughed Tom; "though that tickling
business you speak of is when I spiral. Don't you like it?"
"Can't say I do," observed Mr. Damon dryly.
"Well, I'll promise not to try any stunts if you come
along," Tom went on.
"Where are you going?" asked his friend.
"Oh, no place in particular. As you surmised, I've been
doing a bit of thinking, and--"
"Serious thinking, too, Tom!" interrupted Mr. Damon.
"Excuse me, but I couldn't help overhearing what you said.
It was something about going to do something though you
didn't want to, and that it was part of your 'bit'. That
sounds like soldier talk. Are you going to enlist, Tom?"
"Um! Well, then--"
"It's something I can't talk about, Mr. Damon, even to
you, as yet," Tom said, and there was a new quality in his
voice, at which his friend looked up in some surprise.
"Oh, of course, Tom, if it's a secret--"
"Well, it hasn't even got that far, as yet. It's all up in
the air, so to speak. I'll tell you in due season. But,
speaking of the air, let's go for a spin. It may drive some
of the cobwebs out of my brain. Did I hear you say you
thought it would rain?"
"No, it's as clear as a bell. I said I hoped it wouldn't
rain for the sake of the soldiers in camp. They've had their
share of wet weather, and, goodness knows, they'll get more
when they get to Flanders. It seems to do nothing but rain
"It is damp," agreed Tom. "And, come to think of it, they
are going to have some airship contests over at camp today--
for the men who are being trained to be aviators, you know.
It just occurred to me that we might fly over there and