Tom Swift And His Air Glider
by Victor Appleton

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"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.