THE MYSTERIOUS HITCHHIKER
Tom and Bud were bursting with curiosity. Although the Swifts had been in radio contact with creatures from outer space for many months, this was the most exciting news yet!
On one occasion, the unknown beings had moved a small asteroid—the phantom satellite Nestria—into orbit about the earth. Later they had sent strange samples of the animal life of their planet, aboard orbiting missiles, to be studied by the Swifts. They had also helped Tom, Bud, and Mr. Swift a number of times when their lives were at stake while on daring voyages beyond the earth. What was their latest intention?
The telephone rang and Sandy went to answer it.
"For Pete's sake, Dad," Tom pleaded, "don't keep us in suspense! Who or what is this visitor?"
Mr. Swift smiled at the boys' baffled expressions. "The fact is that a message came through today that—"
He was interrupted by Sandy who had come to the door. "The phone call's for you, Dad. Long distance from Washington."
Bud groaned as Mr. Swift went off to take the call. "It's a conspiracy," Bud said. "Everyone's ganging up to keep us from finding out about that mysterious visitor!"
Tom grinned. "We lasted through an earthquake this afternoon, pal," he said consolingly. "I guess we can last through a phone call."
Inwardly Tom was as impatient as Bud about the exact nature of the message.
Several months ago, the space creatures had sent their first communication in the form of mathematical symbols carved on a black missile which had landed on the grounds of Swift Enterprises.
Tom and his father had decoded the symbols and beamed out a reply over a powerful radio transmitter. Later messages had been picked up by radio telescope and converted to appear as symbols on the oscilloscope screen.
"Sandy must know what it's all about," Bud broke in. "She's the one who first mentioned the visitor."
"Of course I know," Sandy said mysteriously. "So does Mother and so does Phyl. But don't think we're going to give it away!" she added teasingly.
Tom and Bud cajoled the two girls and Mrs. Swift for further information. But Sandy and Phyl only shook their heads, obviously enjoying the situation.
"At last we're getting back at them for the way they've neglected us!" Phyl said, her brown eyes sparkling with laughter.
"Come on, Mother!" Tom said. "Be a sport. You tell us!"
But Mrs. Swift too shook her head. "I'm sorry, Tom," she demurred gently, "but I think the girls are right. I'll say this much, though," she relented, "it will be the biggest challenge that Tom Swift Jr. and Sr. have ever faced!"
"Whew!" Bud remarked as the two boys glanced at each other. "That must mean it's plenty big news! It would have to be, skipper, to top all the other jobs you and your dad have taken on!"
Conquering outer space, probing the ocean's secrets, drilling to the earth's core—these were only a few of Tom Swift's many exciting exploits.
In his first adventure, Tom, in his Flying Lab, had gone to South America to fend off a gang of rebels seeking a valuable radioactive ore deposit. In his most recent challenge, Tom had defied the threats of Oriental killers determined to ferret out the secret of the Swifts' latest space research.
As the two boys silently recalled the exciting events of the past months, Mr. Swift returned to the living room.
Tom and Bud leaned forward in their chairs. "Well, boys," Mr. Swift said, "as I started to tell you, the space receiver picked up a message today from our unknown planetary friends. The message informed us that they are sending a visitor to earth—a visitor consisting of pure energy!"
"Energy?" Tom was startled. "I don't get it, Dad!"
"Frankly, I don't quite understand it myself," Tom Sr. confessed. "The message didn't explain how or in what form the energy would arrive. But, at any rate, they want us to construct some sort of container for it."
The elder scientist paused thoughtfully. "In my opinion, the energy which they speak of must be a sort of invisible brain. The symbols were rather difficult to decode, but apparently our job will be to construct a device through which the energy will be able to receive impressions of what life is like here on earth, and also to communicate its own responses to us."
Tom sat bolt upright. "Dad, this is terrific news!" he exclaimed. "If we're able to make this energy or 'brain' communicate, it may be able to tell us what the space people are like!"
Mr. Swift nodded, his own eyes blazing with as much excitement as Tom's were.
Bud, too, was deeply impressed but could not resist quipping, "What sort of body will you give it? How about a beautiful, superintelligent space girl for me to date?"
"Nothing doing!" Sandy retorted mischievously. "I insist on a handsome young man who'd have time to take two nice earth girls out on dates!"
"Ouch!" Bud pretended to wince. "I really left myself wide open for that one!"
Mrs. Swift put in, "Goodness, mightn't it get out of control and be rather overpowering? Suppose it went berserk!"
"Rather an unpleasant possibility," Mr. Swift agreed, smiling wryly. "But I trust our space friends wouldn't let that happen."
Both he and Tom became thoughtful as they discussed the problem.
"The energy will arrive in two weeks," Mr. Swift added. "Unfortunately that phone call was a request that I go to Washington on urgent government business. So you may have to take over and work out a solution on your own, Tom."
It was a sobering thought to the young inventor. "You were right, Mother. This is a terrific challenge."
Soon afterward, the little gathering broke up. Bud, who had left his own convertible at the Swifts' that morning, offered to drop Phyl at her home.Tom awoke the next morning, refreshed by a good night's sleep. After a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs, he drove off to Enterprises in his low-slung silver sports car.
"Think I'll listen to the news," Tom thought, and switched on his dashboard radio.
A moment later the announcer's voice came over the loud-speaker. "Casualties from yesterday's disastrous earthquake now total thirty-one injured," the announcer reported. "Most of these are employees of the Faber Electronics plant and four are in critical condition. There is one note of cheer, however. At last report, Mark Faber, the brilliant president of the company, is now expected to recover." Tom gave a thankful sigh of relief.
The announcer continued, "The nearby town of Harkness was only lightly damaged, but the plant itself was almost totally demolished. No estimate of the losses has been released, but will certainly run into millions of dollars, including some highly secret defense items which were being developed at the plant. Scientists are puzzled by the severity of the quake in what had been considered a 'dead' area."
For the first time Tom, too, was struck by this curious aspect of the disaster. So far as he knew, no serious tremors had ever before been reported within hundreds of miles of the region.
He was mulling over the matter as he drove along a lonely wooded area, not far from Lake Carlopa. Suddenly his thoughts were interrupted as a man stepped out from among the trees ahead and gestured with his thumb for a ride.
"Sorry, mister," Tom reflected, "but I've had trouble with hitchhikers before!" He shook his head to let the man know that he did not intend to stop.
To the young inventor's amazement, the pedestrian deliberately stepped onto the road—squarely in the path of Tom's oncoming car!
Tom jammed on the brakes, and the silver sports car screeched to a stop. Only a quick twist of the wheel had prevented an accident!
Somewhat angrily, Tom exclaimed, "What's the big idea, mister? Don't you realize you might have been—"
"Shut up!" the stranger snarled. In an instant the man had yanked open the door and climbed in beside Tom.
"Take me inside the grounds of Swift Enterprises," he commanded in a foreign accent. "And no tricks or you will regret it!"
チャプター １ 地震
"Tom, we're having a problem with the gyro-stabilizer," said Mark Faber, gray-haired president of the Faber Electronics Company. "Hope you can find out what's wrong."
The eighteen-year-old inventor accepted the challenge with a smile. "I'll be glad to try, sir," he replied.
Bud Barclay, a dark-haired young flier and Tom Swift Jr.'s closest friend, chuckled. "If anyone can get the bugs out of your new invention, genius boy here will do it!"
The two boys followed Mr. Faber and his engineers to a wooden building which was tightly guarded. Inside, a secret rocket-telemetering device was mounted on its test stand.
"As you know, Tom," Mr. Faber began, "the usual conditions of rocket flight will be—"
He broke off with a gasp of astonishment as the whole building suddenly began to shake.
"Good grief!" Bud exclaimed. "This isn't part of your testing routine, is it?"
His question was drowned out by cries of alarm and the sound of cracking glass. The walls and roof were shuddering and creaking, and the concrete floor was heaving under their feet.
"Look out! The test stand's breaking loose!" Tom warned.
Mr. Faber and two of his men tried frantically to brace the heavy test stand which held the telemetering device. Another engineer rushed toward the door to see what was happening outside. Before he reached it, another shock knocked all of them off their feet.
Electronic equipment cascaded from the wall shelves, and a heavy-duty chain hoist came loose from its overhead track, plunging to the floor with a terrifying crash.
"An earthquake!" Tom gasped.
Bud, meanwhile, clawed a handhold on a wire screen enclosing an air compressor and pulled himself to his feet. But the next moment a third, more violent tremor rocked the building, knocking him over. "The roof! It's caving in!" he heard someone scream.
As his eyes flashed upward in panic, Bud caught a brief glimpse of the ponderous test stand with the priceless telemeter tilting to one side. An instant later it crashed over, pinning Mark Faber beneath it!
Bud threw up his arms to protect himself, but too late! A falling beam caught him on the back of the head and the young flier blacked out.
For minutes, no one stirred among the wreckage. Then Tom, who had been stunned by some falling debris, raised himself to a sitting position.
"Good night!" Tom's eyes focused in horror on the wreckage enveloped by still-billowing dust.
The sky was visible through several gaping holes in the roof, which was sagging dangerously on its supporting trusses. Only two thirds of the walls were still standing.
Suddenly Tom stiffened in fear. "Bud!" The young inventor had just noticed his friend lying pinned beneath a heavy beam nearby. Was he still breathing?
Disregarding his own injuries, Tom hastily freed himself from the debris and groped his way to Bud's side. With a desperate heave, he shoved the beam away, then cradled Bud's head in his arm. His friend's eyelids flickered.
"Are you all right?" Tom asked fearfully.
The answer came in a groan. "O-oh!... Wow!... What hit me?"
"You got conked by a falling timber. Or grazed, at least," Tom added thankfully. "If that beam had landed square on your noggin, even a rock-head like you couldn't have survived!"
Bud managed to grin. "We grow 'em tough out in California where I come from!" he joked.
Somewhat shakily, Bud got to his feet with Tom's assistance. Both boys were heartsick as they surveyed the damaged laboratory, wondering where to begin rescue operations.
"It was a quake," Bud stated grimly. He had heard about the great San Francisco earthquake from his grandfather, and had no doubt about the nature of the tremors.
Just then Tom glimpsed a body protruding from under the wreckage of the telemetering device.
"Mr. Faber!" he gasped.
The two boys scrambled through the clutter of debris toward the spot where the test stand had been erected. Bud seized a slender, steel I beam and managed to pry up the wreckage while Tom carefully extricated Mr. Faber.
The scientist seemed to be badly injured. "We'd better not try to move him," Tom decided. "We'll get an ambulance."
Of the four other company engineers, two were now stirring and partly conscious. The boys found a first-aid cabinet and gave what help they could to them and the other two men. Then Tom taped a bandage on Bud's scalp wound.
"Let's see if we can find a telephone and call the local hospital," Tom said.
"Right!" Bud responded.
They picked their way through the wreckage and emerged on a scene of frightful destruction. The main plant building of Faber Electronics had been partially demolished by the quake. Power lines were down and an outlying storage shed was ablaze. Dazed and panic-stricken survivors were wandering around aimlessly or rushing about to assist the injured.
"Good thing the main shift of workers knocked off before this happened," Bud observed with a shudder. "There would've been a lot more casualties."
"Look!" Tom pointed to a huge crevasse. "Right where we landed our Whirling Duck!"
The boys exchanged rueful glances as they realized that the craft which had brought them to Faber Electronics—one of Tom's unique helijets—had been swallowed up in the gaping chasm.
"No use fussing about it now," Tom said. "Come on, Bud! Let's see about getting help for Mr. Faber!"
Despite the chaotic confusion, the boys managed to locate the plant superintendent—a harried, middle-aged man named Simkins—who was doing his best to restore order. Simkins, who had not been injured, informed them that electricians were rigging an emergency telephone line in order to get through to the nearby town of Harkness.
"Mr. Faber is badly injured," Tom said. "Why not send a car? It's only a few miles away, isn't it?"
"I'll send the plant nurse to him," Simkins said. "As for going to town, take a look at the parking lot." He pointed with a jerk of his thumb. The cars on the lot had been smashed into junk by bricks from a collapsing wall of one of the buildings. "And the only truck we had available was in that burning shed," the superintendent added bitterly.
"Tough break," Tom sympathized. "Anyhow, we want to help. Got a job for us?"
Simkins was only too glad to put Tom's quick mind and keen technical know-how to use. Within minutes, Tom was in charge of clearing away rubble and extricating anyone who might be trapped inside the buildings. Bud organized a fire-fighting crew to keep the blaze in the shed from spreading.
The telephone line was soon repaired and a steady stream of rescue vehicles began arriving from Harkness—fire trucks, three ambulances, and private cars driven by volunteers.
Two hours later there was nothing more Tom and Bud could do at the disaster scene and they hitched a ride into Harkness. The town had suffered some damage, though only slight compared to the destruction at the plant.
"The center of the quake was right under Faber Electronics," Tom remarked.
From a pay telephone, he called Swift Enterprises in Shopton. This was the experimental station where he and his father developed their many amazing inventions. Tom asked the operator to send a helicopter immediately to pick them up. He also called home and spoke to his sister, Sandra.
"What a relief!" Sandy gasped. "We heard a bulletin about the quake over the radio!"
"Don't worry, Sis. Tell Mother and Dad that we're okay," Tom said. "We'll be home in a jiffy—with big appetites!"
The helicopter arrived within twenty minutes at the place Tom had named. After landing at Enterprises, the boys drove to the pleasant, tree-shaded Swift home on the outskirts of town.
Mrs. Swift, a slender, petite woman, tried not to show concern when she saw the boys, bruised and disheveled. "I'm so thankful you're both safe!" she murmured.
Blond, blue-eyed Sandy, who was a year younger than Tom, had invited her friend Phyllis Newton to the house for dinner. Phyl, a pretty, dark-haired girl, was the daughter of Mr. Swift's long-time friend and business associate, "Uncle Ned" Newton. The two girls were as much upset as Tom's mother.
Tom laughed. "We're not stretcher cases," he said. "Why, one of the ambulance doctors checked us out."
Bud groaned. "Why did you have to go and spoil it?" he complained jokingly. "I was all set for Sandy's cool soothing touch on my fevered brow!"
Mr. Swift came into the living room just then and told Tom how worried Mrs. Swift and Sandy had been. "I tried to assure them that you and Bud can take care of yourselves in any crisis." He smiled guiltily as he added, "But I must admit I was more than a little concerned myself."
As Tom grinned, the resemblance between him and his father was very evident. Both had the same clean-cut features and deep-set blue eyes, although Tom Jr. was lankier and taller.
After the two boys had showered and changed their clothes, Mrs. Swift served them a delicious, hot meal. While they ate, Mr. Swift managed after some difficulty to get a call through to the Harkness Hospital. His face was grave as he hung up.
"Mark Faber is not expected to live," the elder inventor reported. "A pity. He's a great scientist."
Tom nodded unhappily. Sandy, to take her brother's mind off the disaster, said, "Dad, tell Tom and Bud about the visitor who's coming."
"A visitor?" Tom looked at his father.
"From another planet," Mr. Swift revealed.
Both boys were amazed and excited. "Wow!" Bud gasped. "Male or female? Human or animal?"
Mr. Swift's eyes twinkled. "None of those," he replied as the boys stared, mystified.
私自身のための英語学習として、これより Tom Swift and The Visitor from Planet X の和訳をいたします。
Title: Tom Swift and The Visitor from Planet X
The Project Gutenberg collection :
Tom Swift and The Visitor from Planet X, by Victor Appleton
It seems I’m recovering from my cold.
But my voice is terrible: my maximum loudness is less than sound level of whisper, and that choppy.
However, I was able to stand in the kitchen for dinner.
We have minced meat and tofu in the fridge.
Yep, mabou-doufu. I love hot, hot, hot one.
My sore throat would scream?
I don’t care.