TOM SWIFT AMONG THE DIAMOND MAKERS or The Secret of Phantom Mountain
Part 2 out of 3
"I have a right to it, as I invested a large sum in it, and I
am entitled to more than a half-share. But, of course, I can't
say what I'll do until I get there. We may have to act very
"I'm inclined to think we will," said Tom. "My plan would be to
gain access to the cave, if possible, and watch them at work. We
might be able to discover the secret of making diamonds, and,
after all, that's what you want, isn't it, Mr. Jenks?"
"Yes, I paid my money for the secret, and I ought to have it.
If I can get it quietly, so much the better. If not, I'll fight
for my rights!" and he looked very determined.
"Bless my powder horn!" cried Mr. Damon. "That's the way to
talk! And so we're to go cruising about in the air, looking for a
mountain shaped like a man's head."
"That's it," a greed Mr. Jenks, "and when we find it we will be
near Phantom Mountain, and the diamond makers."
The final details were completed that night. The last of the
supplies had been put aboard, the larder was well stocked, the
diamond testing apparatus was stored safely away, and all that
remained was for the adventurers to board the Red Cloud in the
morning, and soar away.
That night Tom was uneasy. Several times he got up, and looked
toward the shed where the airship was stored. He could not rid
himself of the idea that the men to whose interest it was that
the diamond-making secret remain undiscovered, might attempt to
wreck the airship before the start. Consequently both Eradicate
Sampson and Engineer Jackson were on guard. Tom looked from his
window, to the shed where the Red Cloud was housed. He saw
nothing to cause him any uneasiness.
"I guess I'm just nervous," he mused. "But, all the same, I'll
be glad when we've started
They were all up early the next morning, Mr. Damon beginning
the day by blessing the sunrise, and many other things that
struck his fancy. The airship was wheeled out of the shed, and
Tom gave her a final inspection.
"It's all right," he declared. "All aboard!"
"Now, do be careful," begged Mr. Swift. "Don't take too many
The adventurers were in the forward part of the ship, and Tom
had taken his place at the wheels and levers in the pilot house.
As he was about to start the motor he looked toward the road, and
saw a horse and carriage. In the vehicle was a girlish figure, at
the sight of which Tom blushed and smiled. He waved his hand.
"I came to wish you good luck!" cried Mary Nester, for it was
she in the carriage.
"Thanks!" cried Tom, leaning from the window of the pilot
house. "It was good of you to get up so early."
"Oh. I'm always up early," she informed him.
"Look out that the motor doesn't scare your horse," Tom warned
"Old Dobbin doesn't mind anything," was her answer. "I'll see
that he doesn't run away with me, as long as you're not on earth
to rescue me. Good-by, Tom!"
"Good-by!" he called, and then he pulled the lever that set in
motion the motor, and whirled the great propellers about. They
whizzed around with a roar, and the Red Cloud, shivering and
trembling with the vibration, rose in the air like some great
"We're off for the West and Phantom Mountain!" called Tom to
As the airship soared upward, Eradicate Sampson ran forward
from where he had been standing near his mule Boomerang. He waved
his hands, and shouted something.
"Bless my hatband! What does he want?" asked Mr. Damon,
watching him curiously.
"It sounds as if he were calling to us to come back," spoke Mr.
"It's too late now," decided Tom. "Maybe he forgot to tell us
good-by," but, he felt a vague wonder at Eradicate's odd motions;
for the colored man was pointing toward the stern of the airship,
as if there was something wrong there. But the Red Cloud soared
CHAPTER IX - A WARNING BY WIRELESS
Rapidly the airship ascended, and, when it was high over the
town of Shopton, Tom headed the craft due west. Looking down he
tried to descry Mary Nestor, in her carriage, but the trees were
in the way, their interlocking branches hiding the girl. Tom did
see crowds of other persons, though, thronging the streets of
Shopton, for, though the young inventor had made many flights,
there was always a novelty about them, that brought out the
"A good start, Tom Swift," complimented Mr. Parker. "Is it
always as easy as this?"
"Starting always is," was the answer, "though, as the Irishman
said, coming down isn't sometimes quite so comfortable."
"Bless my gizzard! That's so," cried the eccentric Mr. Damon.
"Can we vol-plane to earth in the Red Cloud, Tom?"
"Yes, but not as easily as in the Butterfly. However I hope we
will not have to. Now, Mr. Damon, if you will just take charge of
the steering apparatus for a minute, I want to go aft."
"I wish to see if everything is all right. I can't imagine why
Eradicate was making those queer motions."
Mr. Damon, who knew how to operate the Red Cloud, was soon
guiding her on the course, while Tom made his way to the rear
compartments, through the motor room, where the stores of
supplies and food were kept. He made a careful examination,
looking from an after window, and even going out on a small, open
platform, but could discover nothing wrong.
"I guess Rad was just capering about without any special
object," mused Tom, but it was not long after this that they
learned to their dismay, that the colored man had had a method in
On his way back through the motor room Tom looked to the
machinery, and adjusted some of the auxiliary oil feeders. The
various pieces of apparatus were working well, though the engine
had not yet been speeded up to its limit. Tom wanted it to "warm-
"Everything all right?" asked Mr. Damon, as Tom rejoined them
in the pilot house, which was just forward of the living room in
the main cabin.
"Yes, I can't imagine what made Rad act that way. But I'll set
the automatic steering gear now, Mr. Damon, and then you will be
Mr. Jenks was gazing off toward the west--to where he hoped to
discover the secret of Phantom Mountain.
"How do you like it?" asked Tom.
"It's great," replied the diamond man. "I've never been in an
airship before, and it's different than what I expected; but it's
great! It's the only craft that will serve our purpose among the
towering mountain peaks, where the diamond makers are hidden. I
hope we can find them."
In a little while the Red Cloud was skimming along at faster
speed, guided by the automatic rudders, so that no one was needed
in the pilot house, since there was no danger of collisions.
Airships are not quite numerous enough for that, yet, though they
may soon become so.
Tom and the others devoted several hours to arranging their
staterooms and bunks, and getting their clothing stowed away, and
when this was done Mr. Parker and Mr. Jenks sat gazing off into
"It's hard to realize that we are really in an airship,"
observed the diamond man. "At first I thought I would be
frightened, but I'm not a bit. It doesn't seem as if anything
"Something is likely to happen soon," said Mr. Parker,
suddenly, as he gazed at some weather instruments on the cabin
"Bless my soul! Don't say that!" cried Mr. Damon. "What is it?"
"I think, from my observations, that we will soon have a
hurricane," said the scientific man. "There is every indication
of it"'; and he seemed quite delighted at the prospect of his
prediction coming true.
"A hurricane!" cried Mr. Damon. "I hope it isn't like the one
that blew us to Earthquake Island."
"Oh, I think there will be no danger," spoke Tom. "If it comes
on to blow we will ascend or descend out of the path of the
storm. This craft is not like the ill-fated Whizzer. I can more
easily handle the Red Cloud; even in a bad storm."
"I'm glad to hear that," remarked Mr. Jenks. "It would be too
bad to be wrecked before we got to Phantom Mountain."
"Well, I predict that we will have a bad storm," insisted Mr.
Parker, and Tom could not help wishing that the scientist would
keep his gloomy forebodings to himself.
However the storm had not developed up to noon, when Tom, with
Mr. Damon's help, served a fine meal in the dining-room. In the
afternoon the speed of the ship was increased, and by night they
had covered several hundred miles. Through the darkness the Red
Cloud kept on, making good time. Tom got up, occasionally, to
look to the machinery, but it was all automatically controlled,
and an alarm bell would sound in his stateroom when anything went
"Bless my napkin!" exclaimed Mr. Damon the next morning, as
they sat down to a breakfast of fruit, ham and eggs and fragrant
coffee, "this is living as well as in a hotel, and yet we are--
how far are we above the earth, Tom?" he asked, turning to the
"About two miles now. I just sent her up, as I thought I
detected that storm Mr. Parker spoke of."
"I told you it would come," declared the scientist, and there
was a small hurricane below them that morning, but only the lower
edge of it caught the Red Cloud, and when Tom sent her up still
higher she found a comparatively quiet zone, where she slid along
at good speed.
That afternoon Tom busied himself about some wires and a number
of complicated pieces of apparatus which were in one corner of
the main cabin.
"What are you doing now?" asked Mr. Jenks, who had been talking
with Mr. Parker, and showing that scientist some of the
"Getting our wireless apparatus in shape," answered the lad. "I
should have done it before, but I had so much to do that I
couldn't get at it. I'm going to send off some messages. Dad will
want to know how we are doing."
As he worked away, he also made up his mind to send another
message, in care of his father, for there was a receiving station
in the Swift home. And to whom this message was addressed Tom did
not say, but we fancy some of our readers can guess.
Finally, after several hours of work, the wireless was in shape
to send and receive messages. Tom pulled over the lever, and a
crackling sound was heard, as the electricity leaped from the
transmitters into space. Then he clamped the receiver on his ear.
"All ready," he announced. "Has anybody any messages they wish
sent?" For, with the courtesy of a true host he was ready to
serve his guests before he forwarded his own wireless notes.
"Just tell my wife that I'm enjoying myself," requested Mr.
Damon. "Bless my footstool! But this is great! We're off the
earth yet, connected with it."
Mr. Jenks had no one to whom he wanted to send any word, but
Mr. Parker wish to wire to a fellow scientist the result of some
observations made in the upper air.
Tom noted all the messages down, and then, when all was in
readiness he began to call his home station. He knew that either
his father or Mr. Jackson, the engineer, could receive the
But, no sooner had the young inventor sent off the first few
dots and dashes representing "S. I."--his home station call--than
he started and a look of surprise came over his face.
"They're calling us!" he exclaimed.
"Who is?" asked Mr. Jenks.
"My house--my father. He--he's been trying to get us ever since
we started, but I didn't have the wireless in shape to receive
messages. Oh, I hope it's not too late!"
"Too late! Bless my soul, too late for what?" gasped Mr. Damon,
somewhat alarmed by Tom's manner.
The lad did not answer at once. He was intently listening to a
series of dots and dashes that clicked in the telephone receiver
clamped to his left ear. On his face there was a look of
"Father has just sent me a message," he said. "It's a warning
flashed through space! He's been trying to get it to me since
"What is it?" asked Mr. Jenks, rising from his seat.
"The mysterious man is aboard the airship--hidden away!" cried
Tom. "That's what Eradicate was trying to call to our attention
as we started off. Eradicate saw his face at a rear window, and
tried to warn us! The mysterious man is a stowaway on board!"
CHAPTER X - DROPPING THE STOWAWAY
Tom's excited announcement startled Mr. Damon and the others as
much as if the young inventor had informed them that the airship
had exploded and was about to dash with them to the earth. The
men leaped to their feet, and stared at the lad.
"A stowaway on board!" cried Mr. Damon.
"Bless my soul! How did he--"
"Are you sure that message is straight?" asked Mr. Jenks. "Did
Eradicate see the man?"
"He says he did," answered Tom. "The man is hidden away on
board now--probably among the stores and supplies."
"Bless my tomato sauce!" exploded Mr. Damon. "I hope he doesn't
eat them all up!"
"We must get him out at once!" declared Mr. Jenks.
"I knew something would happen on this voyage," came from Mr.
Parker. "I predicted it from the first!"
Tom thought considerable, but he did not answer the scientist
just then. Another communication was coming to him by wireless.
He listened intently.
"Father says," the lad told his companions "that Eradicate only
had a glimpse of the man at the last moment. He was looking from
the rear store-room window--he's the same man who called on me
that time--Rad remembers him very well."
"Bless my shoes! What's to be done?" inquired Mr. Damon,
looking around helplessly.
"We must get him out, that's all," decided Mr. Jenks; with
vigor. "Get him out and drop him overboard!"
"Drop him overboard!" cried Mr. Parker, in horror.
"Not exactly, but get rid of him," proceeded the diamond
seeker. "That man is one of my enemies. He has been sent by the
band of diamond makers hidden among the mountains, to spy on me,
and, if possible, prevent me from seeking to discover their
secret. He tried to work on Tom's Swift's fears, and frighten him
from using his airship on this quest. Then, when he failed, the
man must have sneaked into the shed, and hidden himself in the
ship. We must get rid of him, or he may wreck the Red Cloud!"
"That's so!" cried Tom. "We must try to capture him. I think we
had better--" the lad paused, and again listened to the wireless
message. "Father says Eradicate saw the man have a gun, so we
must be careful," the young inventor translated the dots and
"Bless my powder horn!" exploded Mr. Damon.
"We shall have to proceed cautiously then," spoke Mr. Jenks.
"If he is like any others in the gang he is a desperate man."
"Better sneak up on him then, if we can," proposed Mr. Parker.
"There are enough of us to cope with one man, even if he is
armed. You have weapons aboard, haven't you?" he inquired of Tom.
"Yes," was the hesitating answer, "but I don't want to use them
if I can help it. Not only because of the danger, and a dislike
of shedding blood, but because a stray bullet might pierce the
gas bag and damage the ship."
"That's so," agreed Mr. Jenks. "Well, I guess if we go at it
the right way we can capture him without any shooting. But we
must talk more quietly--we ought to have whispered --he may have
"I don't think so," replied Tom. "The storeroom is far enough
off so that he couldn't hear us. Besides, the motor makes such a
racket that he couldn't distinguish what we were talking about,
even if he heard our voices. So, unless he heard the wireless
working, and suspects something from that, he probably doesn't
know that we are aware of his presence aboard."
"But why do you think he has remained quiet all this while,
Tom?" asked Mr. Damon.
"Probably he wants to wait until the ship is farther out west,"
suggested Mr. Jenks. "Then he will be nearer his friends, and can
get help, if he needs it."
"And do you really believe he would destroy the Red Cloud?"
asked Mr. Parker.
"I think that all he is waiting for is a favorable chance,"
declared the diamond seeker. "He would destroy the craft, and us
too, if he could prevent us from discovering the secret of
Phantom Mountain, I believe."
"Then we must get ahead of him," decided Tom, quietly. "I have
just flashed to dad a message, telling him that we will heed his
warning. Now to capture the stowaway!"
"And while we're about it, give him a good scare when we do get
him," suggested Mr. Jenks.
"How?" asked Tom.
"Threaten to drop him overboard. Perhaps that will make him
tell how he happened to get in our ship, and what are the plans
of the gang of diamond makers. We may get valuable information
"I don't believe you can scare such fellows much," was Tom's
opinion, but it was agreed to try.
"How are you going to capture him?" asked Mr. Parker. "If he
has a gun it won't be any too easy to go in the storeroom, and
drag him out."
"We'll have to use a little strategy," decided Tom, and then
they discussed several plans. The one finally adopted was that
Tom and Mr. Damon should enter the storeroom, casually, as if in
search of food to cook for supper. They would discuss various
dishes, and Mr. Damon was to express a preference for something
in the food line, the box containing which, was well hack in the
room. This would give the two a chance to penetrate to the far
end of the apartment, without arousing the suspicions of the
hidden man, who, doubtless, would be listening to the
"And as soon as we get sight of him, you and I will jump right
at him, Mr. Damon," said Tom. "Jump before he has a chance to use
his gun. Mr. Jenks and Mr. Parker will be waiting outside the
room, to catch him if he gets away from us. I'll have some ropes
ready, and we'll tie him up, and--well, we'll decide later what
to do with him."
"All right. I'm ready as soon as you are, Tom," said the
eccentric man. "Come ahead."
They went softly to the storeroom, and listened at the door.
There was no sound heard save that made by the machinery.
"I wonder if he's really here?" whispered Mr. Damon.
"We'll soon find out," answered Tom. "Let's go in."
They entered, and, in pursuance of their plan, Tom and his
friend talked of various foods.
"I think I'd like some of that canned lobster, with French
dressing on," spoke the eccentric man.
"That's away in the back end of the room," said Tom, in a loud
voice. "It's under a lot of boxes."
"Then I'll help you get it out! Bless my frying pan! but I am
very fond of lobster!" exclaimed Mr. Damon, in as natural tones
as was possible under the circumstances.
He and Tom moved cautiously back among the boxes and barrels.
They were glancing about with eager eyes. Tom switched on an
electric light, and, the instant he did so, he was aware of a
movement in a little space formed by one box which was placed on
top, of two others. The lad saw a dark figure moving, as if to
get farther out of sight.
"I've got him!" cried Tom, making a dive for the shadow.
A moment later the young inventor was bowled over, as a dark
figure leaped over his head.
"Catch him, Mr. Damon!" he cried.
"Bless my hatband! I--I--" Mr. Damon's voice ended in a grunt.
He, too, had been knocked down by the fleeing man.
"Look out, Mr. Jenks!" cried Tom, to warn those on guard at the
door of the storeroom.
There was the report of a gun, some excited shouts, and when
Tom could scramble to his feet, and rush out, he beheld Mr.
Parker calmly sitting on a struggling man, while Mr. Jenks held a
gun, that was still smoking.
"We caught him!" cried the scientist.
"Anybody hurt?" asked Tom, anxiously.
"No, I knocked up his gun as he fired," explained Mr. Jenks.
"Where are the ropes, Tom?"
The cords were produced and the man, who had now ceased to
struggle, was tightly bound. He uttered not a word, but he smiled
grimly when Mr. Damon remarked:
"I guess I'll go back in the storeroom, Tom, and see how much
food he ate."
"Oh, I guess he didn't take much," declared the lad. "He wasn't
there long enough."
"Well, Farley Munson, so it's you, is it?" asked Mr. Jenks, as
he surveyed the prisoner.
"Do you know him?" asked Tom, in some surprise.
"He was in with the diamond makers," said Mr. Jenks. "He was
one of those who took me to the secret cave. But it will be the
last time he ever goes there. How high up are we, Tom?"
"About two miles. Why?"
"I guess that will be far enough to let him fall," went on the
diamond seeker. "Come on, Mr. Damon, help me throw him
"You--you're not going to throw me over--with the airship two
miles high; are you?" gasped the man.
"Will you tell us what we want to know, if we don't?" asked Mr.
"What do you want to know?"
"How you got aboard, and what your object was in coming."
"That's easy enough. I had been hanging around the shed for
several days, watching a chance to get in. Finally I saw it, when
that colored man went to feed his mule, and I slipped in, and
hid in the airship. The stores were all in then, and I stowed
myself away among the boxes. I had food and water, so I didn't
touch any of yours," and he looked at Mr. Damon, who seemed much
"And what was your object?" demanded Mr. Jenks.
"I wanted to prevent you from going to Phantom Mountain."
"By destroying the airship if need be. But I hoped to
accomplish it by other means. I would have stopped at nothing,
though, to prevent you. You must keep away from there!"
"And if we refuse?" asked Tom.
"Then you'll have to take what comes!"
"But not from you!" exclaimed Mr. Jenks. "We're going to get
rid of you."
The man's face showed the alarm he felt.
"Oh, don't worry," said Mr. Jenks, quickly, "we're not going to
toss you overboard. We're not as desperate as your crowd. But
we're going to get rid of you, and then go on before you can send
any word to your confederates. We'll put you off in the most
lonesome spot we can find, and I guess you'll be some time
getting back to civilization. By that time we'll have the secret
of the diamonds."
"You never will!" declared the man, firmly. And he would say
nothing more, though by threats and promises Mr. Jenks tried to
get from him something about the men in with him, and where the
cave of the diamonds was located.
Heavily bound with ropes the man was locked in a small closet,
to be kept there until a favorable spot was reached for letting
him go. Mr. Jenks' plan, of dropping him down in some place where
he would have difficulty in sending on word to his confederates
was considered a good one.
Three days later, in crossing over a lonely region, near the
Nebraska National Forest, Farley Munson, which was one of the
names the spy went by, was dropped off the airship, when it was
sent down to within a few feet of the earth.
"It will take you some time to get to a telegraph office," said
Mr. Jenks, as a package of food, and a flask of water was tossed
down to the stowaway. He shook his fist at those in the airship,
and shouted after them:
"You'll never discover the secret of Phantom Mountain!"
"Yes, we will," declared Tom, as he sent the Red Cloud high
into the air again.
CHAPTER XI - A WEARY SEARCH
During the three days when the stowaway had been kept a
prisoner, the Red Cloud had made good time on her western trip.
She was now about two hundred and fifty miles from Leadville,
Colorado, and Tom knew he could accomplish that distance in a
short time. It was necessary, therefore, since they were so close
to the place where the real search would begin, to make some more
"We will need to replenish our supply of gasoline," said Tom,
shortly after the stowaway had been dropped, and when the young
inventor had made a general inspection of the airship.
"Is it all gone?" inquired Mr. Damon.
"Not all, but we will soon be in the wildest part of the Rocky
Mountains, and gasoline is difficult to procure there. So I want
to fill all our reserve tanks. But I would rather do that before
we get far into Colorado."
"Why?" inquired Mr. Parker.
"Because airships are not so common but what the appearance of
one attracts attention. Ours is sure to be talked about, and
commented on. In that case, in spite of our precaution in putting
Munson off in this lonely place, word of the Red Cloud being in
the vicinity of Leadville may reach the diamond makers, and put
them on their guard. We want to take them unawares if we can."
"That's so," agreed Mr. Jenks. "We had better get our gasoline
at the first stopping place, then, and proceed with our search.
Our first object ought to be to look for the landmark--the head
of stone. Then we can begin to prospect about a bit."
"My idea, exactly," declared Tom. "Well, then, I'll go down at
the first place we cross, where we can get gasoline, and then
we'll be in a position to hover in the air for a long time,
The airship kept on her way, traveling slowly the remainder of
that day, and at dusk, when there was less chance of big crowds
seeing them, the Red Cloud was sent down on the outskirts of a
large village. Tom and Mr. Damon went to a supply store, and
arranged to have a sufficient quantity of the gasoline taken out
to the airship. It was delivered after dark, and little talk was
occasioned by the few who were aware of the presence of the
craft. Then, once more, they went aloft, and Tom sent several
wireless messages to Shopton, including one to Miss Nestor.
"Please tell my wife that I am well, and that I have a good
appetite," said Mr. Damon.
Mr. Parker also sent a message to a scientific friend of his,
stating that he made some observations among the mountains, of
the region in which the airship then was, and that the
indications were that a great landslide would soon take place.
"That won't worry us," spoke Tom, "for we'll be far above it."
"I hope we will be near enough to enable me to observe it, and
make some scientific notes," came from Mr. Parker. "I am positive
that one of these mountain peaks that we saw to-day will
disappear in a landslide within a few days. I have an instrument
somewhat like the one that records earthquakes, and it has been
acting strangely of late."
Tom wondered what enjoyment Mr. Parker got out of life, when he
was always looking for some calamity to happen, but the scientist
seemed to take as much pleasure in his gloomy forebodings now, as
he had on Earthquake Island.
They reached the vicinity of Leadville the next day, but took
care to keep high above the city, so that the airship could not
be observed. With powerful glasses they examined the mountainous
country, looking for the little settlement of Indian Ridge.
"There it is!" exclaimed Mr. Jenks, just as dusk was settling
down. I can make out the hotel I stopped at. Now we can really
begin our search. The next thing is to find the stone head, and
then, I think, I will have my bearings."
"We'll begin the hunt for that landmark in the morning," said
High in the air hovered the Red Cloud. At that distance above
the earth she must have looked like some great bird, and the
adventurers thought it unlikely that any one in the vicinity of
Leadville would observe them.
The quest for the great mountain peak, that looked like a stone
head, was under way. Back and forth sailed the airship. Sometimes
she was enveloped in fog, and no sight could be had of the earth
below. At other times there were rain storms, which likewise
prevented a view. Mr. Parker was on the lookout for his predicted
mountain landslide, but it did not occur, and he was much
"It's queer I can't pick out that landmark," said Mr. Jenks
after two days of weary searching, when their eyes were strained
from long peering through telescopes. "I'm sure it was around
Indian Ridge, yet we've covered almost all the ground in this
neighborhood, and I haven't had a glimpse of it."
"Perhaps it was destroyed in a landslide, or some cataclysm of
nature," suggested Mr. Parker. "That is very possible."
"If that's the case we're going to have a hard time to locate
the cave of the diamond makers," answered Mr. Jenks, "but I hope
it isn't so."
They continued the search for another day, and then Tom, as
they sat in the comfortable cabin of the airship that night,
hovering almost motionless (for the motor had been shut down)
made a proposition.
"Why not descend in some secluded place," he suggested, "and
wander around on foot, making inquiries of the miners. They may
know where the stone head is, or they may even know about Phantom
"Good idea," spoke Mr. Jenks. "We'll do it."
Accordingly, the next morning, the Red Cloud was lowered in a
good but lonely landing place, and securely moored. It was in a
valley, well screened from observation, and the craft was not
likely to be seen, but, to guard against any damage being done to
it by passing hunters or miners, Mr. Parker and Mr. Damon agreed
to remain on guard in it, while Tom and Mr. Jenks spent a day or
two traveling around, making inquiries.
The young inventor and his companion proceeded on foot to a
small settlement, where they hired horses on which to make their
way about. They were to be gone two days, and in that time they
hoped to get on the right trail.
CHAPTER XII - THE GREAT STONE HEAD
It was a wild and desolate country in which Tom Swift and Mr.
Jenks were traveling. Villages were far apart, and they were at
best but small settlements. In their journeys from place to place
they met few travelers.
But of these few they made cautious inquiries as to the
location of Phantom Mountain, or the landmark known as the great
stone head. Prospectors, miners and hunters, whom they asked,
shook their heads.
"I've heard of Phantom Mountain," said one grizzled miner, "but
I couldn't say where it is. Maybe it's only a fish story--the
place may not even exist."
"Oh, it does, for I've been there!" exclaimed Mr. Jenks.
"Then why don't you go back to it?" asked the miner.
"Because I can't locate it again," was the reply.
"Humph! Mighty queer if you've seen a place once, and can't get
to it again," and the man looked as if he thought there was
something strange about Tom and his companion. Mr. Jenks did not
want to say that he had been taken to the mountain blindfolded,
for that would have caused too much talk.
"I think if we spent to-night in a place where the miners
congregate, listened to their talk, and put a few casual
questions to them, more as if we were only asking out of idle
curiosity, we might learn something," suggested Tom.
"Very well, we'll try that scheme."
Accordingly, after they had left the suspicious miner the two
proceeded to a small milling town, not far from Indian Ridge.
There they engaged rooms for the night at the only hotel, and,
after supper they sat around the combined dance hall and gambling
There were wild, rough scenes, which were distasteful to Tom,
and to Mr. Jenks, but they felt that this was their only chance
to get on the right trail, and so they stayed. As strangers in a
western mining settlement they were made roughly welcome, and in
response to their inquiries about the country, they were told
many tales, some of which were evidently gotten up for the
benefit of the "tenderfeet."
"Is there a place around here called Phantom Mountain?" asked
Tom, at length, as quietly as he could.
"Never heard of it, stranger," replied a miner who had done
most of the talking. "I never heard of it, and what Bill
Slatterly don't know ain't worth knowin'. I'm Bill Slatterly," he
added, lest there be some doubt on that score.
"Isn't there some sort of a landmark around here shaped like a
great stone head?" went on Tom, after some unimportant questions.
"Seems to me I've heard of that."
"Nary a one," answered Mr. Slatterly. "No stone heads, and no
Phantom Mountains--nary a one.
"Who says there ain't no Phantom Mountains?" demanded an
elderly miner, who had been dozing in one corner of the room, but
who was awakened by Slatterly's loud voice. "Who says so?"
"I do," answered the one who claimed to know everything.
"Then you're wrong!" Tom's heart commenced beating faster than
"Do you mean to say you've seen Phantom Mountain, Jed Nugg?"
"No, I ain't exactly seen it, an' I don't want to, but there is
such a place, about sixty mile from here. Folks says it's
haunted, and them sort of places I steer clear from."
"Can you tell me about it?" asked Mr. Jenks. eagerly. "I am
interested in such things."
"I can't tell you much about it," was the reply, "and I
wouldn't git too interested, if I was you. It might not be
healthy. All I know is that one time my partner and I were in
hard luck. We got grub-staked, and went out prospectin'. We
strayed into a wild part of the country about sixty mile from
here, and one night we camped on a mountain--a wild, desolate
place it was too."
The miner stopped, and began leisurely filling his pipe.
"Well?" asked Tom, trying not to let his voice sound too eager.
"Well, that was Phantom Mountain."
The miner seemed to have finished his story.
"Is that all?" asked Mr. Jenks. "How did you know it was
"'Cause we seen the ghost--my partner and I--that's why!"
exclaimed the man, puffing on his pipe. "As I said, we was
campin' there, and 'long about midnight we seen somethin' tall
and white, and all shimmerin', with a sort of yellow fire,
slidin' down the side of the mountain It made straight for our
"Huh! Guess you run, didn't you, Jed?" asked Bill Slatterly.
"Course we did. You'd a run too, if you seen a ghost comm' at
you, an' firm' a gun."
"Ghosts can't fire guns!" declared Bill. "I guess you dreamed
"Ghosts can't fire guns, eh? That's all you know about it. This
one did, and to prove I didn't dream it, there was a bullet hole
in my hat next mornin'. I could prove it, too, only I ain't got
that hat any more. But that was Phantom Mountain, strangers, an'
my advice to you is to keep away from it. I was on it but I
didn't exactly see it, 'cause it was dark at the time."
"Was it near a peak that looked like a stone
head?" asked Tom.
"It were, stranger, but I didn't take much notice of it. Me and
my partner got out of them diggin's next day, and I never went
back. I ain't never said much about this place, but it's called
Phantom Mountain all right, and I ain't the only one that's seen
a ghost there. Other grub-stakers has had the same experience."
"Why ain't I never heard about it?" demanded Bill,
"'Cause as why you're allers so busy talkin' that you don't
never listen to nothin' I reckon," was Jed's answer, amid
"Can you tell us what trail to take to get there?" asked Tom,
of the miner.
"Yes, it's called the old silver trail, and you. strike it by
goin' to a place called Black Gulch, about forty mile from here.
Then it's twenty mile farther on. But take my advice and don't
"Can it be reached by way of Indian Ridge?" asked Mr. Jenks,
wondering how he had been taken to the cave of the diamond
makers. He did not remember Black Gulch.
"Yes, you can git there by Indian Ridge way, but it's more
dangerous. You're likely to lose your way, for that's a trail
that's seldom traveled." Mr. Jenks thought that, perhaps, was the
reason the gang had taken him that way. "It's easier to get to
the stone head and Phantom Mountain by Black Gulch, but it ain't
healthy to go there, strangers, take my advice on that,"
concluded the miner, as he prepared to go to sleep again.
Tom could scarcely contain the exultation he felt. At last, it
seemed, they were on the trail. He motioned to Mr. Jenks, and
they slipped quietly from the place, just as another dance was
"Now for Black Gulch!" cried Tom. "We must hurry back to the
airship, and tell the good news.
"It's too late to-night," decided Mr. Jenks, and so they waited
until morning, when they made an early start.
They found Mr. Damon and Mr. Parker anxiously awaiting their
return. Mr. Damon blessed so many things that he was nearly out
of breath, and Mr. Parker related something of the observations
he had made.
"I think I have discovered traces of a dormant volcano," he
said. "I am in hopes that it will have an eruption while we are
"I'm not," spoke Tom, decidedly. "We'll start for Black Gulch
as soon as possible."
The airship once more rose in the air, and, following the
directions the miner had given him, Tom pointed his craft for the
depression in the mountains which had been given the name Black
Gulch. It was reached in a short time, and then, making a turn up
a long valley the airship proceeded at reduced speed.
"We ought to see that stone head soon now," spoke Tom, as he
peered from the windows of the pilot house.
"It's queer we didn't notice it when we were up in the air,"
remarked Mr. Jenks. "We've been over this place before, I'm sure
The next moment Mr. Damon uttered a cry. "Bless my watch-
chain!" he exclaimed. "Look at that!"
He pointed off to the left. There, jutting out from the side of
a steep mountain peak was a mass of stone--black stone--which, as
the airship slowly approached, took the form and shape of a
"That's it! That's it!" cried Tom. "The great stone head!"
"And now for Phantom Mountain and the diamonds!" shouted Mr.
Jenks, as Tom let the airship slowly settle to the bottom of the
CHAPTER XIII - ON PHANTOM MOUNTAIN
Out from the Red Cloud piled Tom and the others. They made a
rush for the irregular mass of rock which bore so strong a
resemblance to the head of some gigantic man.
"That's the one! That's the thing I saw when they were taking
me along here blindfolded!" exclaimed Mr. Jenks. "I'm sure we're
on the right trail, now!"
"But what gets me, though," remarked Mr. Damon, "is why we
couldn't see that landmark when we were up in the air. We had a
fine view, and ought to have been able to pick it out with the
The adventurers saw the reason a few seconds later. The image
was visible only from one place, and that was directly looking up
the valley. If one went too far to the right or left the head
disappeared from view behind jutting crags, and it was impossible
to see it from overhead, because the head was almost under a
great spur of a mighty mountain.
"We might have hunted for it a week in the airship, and been
directly over it," said Tom, "and yet we would never have seen
"Yes, but we never would have gotten here in such good shape if
it hadn't been for your wonderful craft," declared Mr. Jenks. "It
brought us here safely and quickly, and enabled us to elude the
men who tried to keep us back. We're here in spite of them. If we
had traveled by train they might have interfered with us in a
"That's so," agreed Mr. Damon. "Well, now we're here, what's to
be done? Which way do we start to reach the cave where the
diamonds are manufactured, Mr. Jenks?"
"That I can't say. As you know, I only had a momentary glimpse
of this stone head as they wore taking me along the trail. Then
one the men noticed that the bandage had slipped and he pulled it
into place. So I really can't say which direction to take now, in
order to discover the secret."
"How long after you saw the head before you reached the cave?"
asked Tom. "In that way we may be able to tell how far away it
"Well, I should say it was about two or three hours after I saw
the head, before we got to the halting place, and I was carried
into the cave. That would make it several miles from here, for we
went in a wagon."
"Yes, and they might have driven in a round-about way, in order
to deceive you," suggested Mr. Damon. "At best we have but a
faint idea where the diamond cave is, but we must search for it;
"Certainly. We'll start right in. And as the airship will be of
but little service to us now, I suggest that we leave it in this
valley. It is very much secluded, and no one will harm it, I
think. We can then start off prospecting, for I have a large
portable tent, and we can carry enough food with us, with what
game we can shoot, to enable us to live. I have a regular camping
outfit on board."
"Fine!" cried Mr. Parker, "and that will give me a chance to
make some observations among the mountains, and perhaps I can
predict when a landslide, or an eruption of some dormant volcano,
"Bless my stars!" cried Mr. Damon. "I don't wish you any bad
luck, Mr. Parker, but I sincerely hope nothing of the sort
happens! We had enough of that on Earthquake Island!"
"One can not halt the forces of nature," said the scientist,
solemnly. "There are many towering peaks around here which may
contain old volcanoes. And I notice the presence of iron ore all
about. This must be a wonderful place in a thunder and lightning
"Why?" asked Tom, curiously.
"Because lightning would be powerfully attracted here by the
presence of the metal. In fact there is evidence that many of the
peaks have been struck by lightning," and the scientist showed
curious, livid scars on the stone faces of the peaks within
"Then this is a good place to stay away from in a storm,"
observed Mr. Damon. "However, we won't worry about that now. If
this is the landmark Mr. Jenks was searching for, then we must be
in the vicinity of Phantom Mountain."
"I think we are," declared the diamond seeker. "Probably it is
within sight now, but there are so many peaks, and this is such a
wild and desolate part of the country that we may have trouble in
"We've got to make a beginning, anyhow," decided Tom, "and the
sooner the better. Come, we'll make up our camping kits, and
It was something to know that they were on the right trail, and
it was a relief to be able to busy oneself, and not be aimlessly
searching for a mysterious landmark. They all felt this, and soon
the airship was taken to a secluded part of the valley, where it
was well hidden from sight in a grove of trees.
Tom and Mr. Damon then served a good meal, and preparations
were made to start on their search among the mountains--a search
which they hoped would lead them to Phantom Mountain, and the
cave of the diamond makers.
The tent which would afford them shelter was in sections, and
could be laced together. They carried food, compressed into small
packages, coffee, a few cooking utensils; and each one had a gun,
Tom carrying a combination rifle and shotgun, for game.
"We can't live very high while we're on the trail," said the
young inventor, "but it won't be much worse than it was on
Earthquake Island. Are we all ready?"
"I guess so," answered Mr. Damon. "How long are we going to be
"Until we find the diamond makers!" declared Tom, firmly.
Shouldering their packs, the adventurers started off. Tom
turned for a last look at his airship, dimly seen amid the trees.
Would he ever come back to the Red Cloud? Would she be there when
he did return? Would their quest be successful? These questions
the lad asked himself, as he followed his companions along the
"Perhaps we can find the road by which these men go in and out
of the cave," suggested Mr. Damon, when they had gone on for
"I fancy not," replied Mr. Jenks. "They probably take great
pains to hide it. I think though, that our best plan will be to
go here and there, looking for the entrance to the cave. I
believe I would remember the place."
"But why can't you follow the directions given by the miner who
told you about Phantom Mountain?" asked Mr. Damon.
"Because his talk was too indefinite," answered Mr. Jenks. "He
was so frightened by seeing what he believed to be a ghost, that
he didn't take much notice of the location of the place. All he
knows is that Phantom Mountain is somewhere around here."
"And we've got to hunt until we find it; is that the idea?"
asked Mr. Parker.
"Or until we see the phantom" added Tom, in a low voice.
"Bless my topknot!" exclaimed Mr. Damon. "You don't mean to say
you expect to see that ghost; do you Tom?"
"Perhaps," answered the young inventor, and he did not add
something else of which he was thinking. For Tom had a curious
theory regarding the phantom.
They tramped about the remainder of that day. Toward evening
Tom shot some birds, which made a welcome addition to their
supper. Then the tent was put together, some spruce and hemlock
boughs were cut to make a soft bed, and on these, while the light
of a campfire gleamed in on them, the adventurers slept.
Their experience the following day was similar to the first.
They saw no evidence of a large cave such as Mr. Jenks had
described, nor were there any traces of men having gone back and
forth among the mountains, as might have been expected of the
diamond makers, for, as Mr. Jenks had said, they made frequent
journeys to the settlement for food, and other supplies.
"Well, I haven't begun to give up yet," announced Tom, on the
third day, when their quest was still unsuccessful. "But I think
we are making one mistake."
"What is that?" inquired Mr. Jenks.
"I think we should go up higher. In my opinion the cave is near
the top of some peak; isn't it, Mr. Jenks?"
"I have that impression, though, as you know, I never saw the
outside of it. Still, it might not be a bad idea to ascend some
of these peaks."
Following this suggestion, they laid their trail more toward
the sky, and that night found them encamped several thousand feet
above the sea-level. It was quite cool, and the campfire was a
big one about which they sat after supper, talking of many
Tom did not sleep well that night. He tossed from side to side
on the bed of boughs, and once or twice got up to replenish the
fire, which had burned low. His companions were in deep slumber.
"I wonder what time it is?" mused Tom, when he had been up the
third time to throw wood on the blaze. "Must be near morning." He
looked at his watch, and was somewhat startled to see that it was
only a little after twelve. Somehow it seemed much later.
As he was putting the timepiece back into his pocket the lad
looked around at the dark and gloomy mountains, amid which they
were encamped. As his gaze wandered toward the peak of the one on
the side of which the tent was pitched, he gave a start of
For, coming down a place where, that afternoon, Tom had noticed
a sort of indefinite trail. was a figure in white. A tall, waving
figure, which swayed this way and that--a figure which halted and
then came on again.
"I wonder--I wonder if that can be a wisp of fog?" mused the
young inventor. He rubbed his eyes, thinking it might be a
swirling of the night mist or a defect of vision. Then, as he saw
more plainly, he noticed the thing in white rushing toward him.
"It's the phantom--the phantom!" cried Tom, aloud. "It's the
thing the miner saw! We're on Phantom Mountain now!"
CHAPTER XIV - WARNED BACK
Tom's cries awakened the sleepers in the tent. Mr. Damon was
the first to rush out.
"Bless my nightcap, Tom!" he cried. "What is it? What has
happened? Are we attacked by a mountain lion?"
For answer the young inventor pointed up the mountain, to
where, in the dim light from a crescent moon, there stood boldly
revealed, the figure in white.
"Bless--bless my very existence!" cried the odd man. "What is
"The phantom," was the quiet answer. "Watch it, and see what it
By this time Mr. Jenks and Mr. Parker had joined Tom and Mr.
Damon. The four diamond seekers stood gazing at the apparition.
And, as they looked, the thing in white, seemingly too tall for
any human being, slid slowly forward, with a gliding motion. Then
it raised its long, white arms, and waved them threateningly at
"It's motioning us to go back," said Mr. Parker in an awed
whisper. "It doesn't want us to go any farther."
"Very likely," agreed Tom, coolly. "But we're not going to be
frightened by anything like that; are we?"
"Not much!" exclaimed Mr. Jenks. "I expected this. A ghost
can't drive me back from getting my rights from those
"Suppose it uses a revolver to back up its demand?" asked the
"Wait until it does," answered Mr. Jenks. But the figure in
white evidently had no such intentions. It came on a little
distance farther, still waving the long arms threateningly, and
then it suddenly disappeared, seeming to dissolve in the misty
shadows of the night.
"Bless my suspenders!" cried Mr. Damon." "That's a very
strange proceeding! Very strange! What do you make of it, Tom?"
"It is evidently some man dressed up in a sheet," declared Mr.
Jenks. "I expected as much."
"The work of those diamond makers; do you think?" continued Mr.
"I believe so," answered Tom, slowly, for he was trying to
think it out. "I believe they are the cause of the phantom,
though I don't know that it's a man dressed in a sheet."
"Why isn't it?" demanded Mr. Jenks.
"Because it was too tall for a man, unless he's a giant."
"He may have been on stilts," suggested Mr. Parker.
"No man on stilts could walk along that way," declared Tom,
confidently. "He glided along too easily. I am inclined to think
it may be some sort of a light."
"A light?" queried Mr. Damon.
"Yes, the diamond makers may be hidden in some small cave near
here, and they may have some sort of a magic lantern or a similar
arrangement, for throwing a shadow picture. They could arrange it
to move as they liked, and could cause it to disappear at will.
That, I think, is the ghost we have just seen."
"But the diamond makers have only been in this mountain
recently," objected Mr. Jenks, "and the phantom was here before
them. In fact, that was what gave the place its name."
"That may be," admitted the lad. "There are many places that
have the name of being haunted, but no one ever sees the ghost.
It is always some one else, who has heard of some one who has
seen it. That may have been the case here. I grant that this
place may have been called 'Phantom Mountain' for a number of
years, due to the superstitious tales of miners. The diamond
makers came along, found the conditions just right for their
work, and adopted the ghost, so to speak. As there wasn't any
real spirit they made one, and they use it to scare people away.
I think that's what we've just seen, though I may be wrong in my
theory as to what the phantom is."
"Well, it's gone now, at any rate," said Mr. Jenks, "and I
think we'd better get back inside the tent. It's cold out here."
"Aren't some of us going to stand guard?" demanded Mr. Damon.
"What for?" asked Mr. Jenks.
"Why--er--bless my key-ring! Suppose that ghost takes a notion
to come down here, and use his gun, as he did on the miners?"
"I don't believe that will happen," remarked Tom. "The diamond
makers, if the white thing had anything to do with them, have
given us a warning, and I think they'll at least wait until
morning to see how we heed it."
"We aren't going to heed it!" burst out Mr. Jenks. "I'm going
to go right ahead and find that cave where they make diamonds!"
"And we're with you!" exclaimed Tom. "We'll have a good fire
going the rest of the night, and that may keep intruders away. In
the morning we'll begin our search, and we'll go up the trail
where we saw the white figure."
A big pile of wood had been collected for the fire, and Tom now
piled some logs and branches on the blaze. It would last for some
time now, and the adventurers, still talking of the "ghost" went
back into the tent. It was over an hour before they all got to
sleep again, and Mr. Jenks and Mr. Damon took turns in getting up
once or twice during the remainder of the night to replenish the
Morning dawned without anything further having occurred to
disturb them, and, after a hearty breakfast, to which Tom added
some fish he caught in a nearby mountain stream, they set off up
the trail on Phantom Mountain.
They had left their tent standing, as they proposed making that
spot their headquarters until they located the cave they were
seeking. What their course would be after that would depend on
If they had expected to have an easy task locating the cavern
in which Mr. Jenks had seen diamonds made, the adventurers were
disappointed. All that day they tramped up and down the mountain,
looking for some secret entrance, but none was disclosed. The
higher they went up the great peak, the fainter became the trail,
until, at length it vanished completely.
But this was not to be wondered at, since it was on solid rock,
in which no footsteps would leave an impression.
"They never brought you up here in a wagon, Mr. Jenks," decided
Tom, when he saw how steep the place was.
"I'm inclined to think so myself," admitted the diamond man.
"They must have reached the cave from some other way. As a matter
of fact, I walked some distance after getting out of the vehicle,
before we got to the cavern. But, even at that, I don't believe
we came this way."
"Yet the phantom was here," persisted Tom, "and I'm convinced
that the cave is in this neighborhood. It's up to us to find it!"
But they searched the remainder of that day in vain, and as
night was coming on, they made their way back to the camp. As
Tom, who was in the lead, approached the tent, he saw something
black fastened to the entrance.
"Hello!" he cried. "Some one's been here. That wasn't on the
tent when he left this morning."
"What is it?" asked Mr. Damon.
"A black piece of paper, written on with white ink," replied
the lad. He was reading it, and, as he perused it a look of
surprise came over his face.
"Listen to this!" called Tom. "It's evidently from the diamond
Holding up the black paper, on which the white writing stood
out in bold relief Tom read aloud:
"Be warned in time! Go back before it is too late! You are near
to death! Go back!"
"Bless my shoelaces!" cried Mr. Damon. "This is getting
CHAPTER XV - THE LANDSLIDE
Gathered about the young inventor, the three men looked at the
warning. The writing was poor, and it was evident that an attempt
had been made to disguise it. But there was no misspelling of
words, and there were no rudely drawn daggers, or bloody hands or
anything of that sort. In fact, it was a very business-like sort
"Rather odd," commented Mr. Jenks. "Black paper and white ink."
"White ink is easy enough to make," stated Mr. Parker. "I fancy
they wanted it as conspicuous as possible."
"Yes," agreed Tom, "and this warning, together with the antics
of the thing in white last night, shows that they are aware of
our presence here, and perhaps know who we are. We will have to
be on our guard."
"Do you think that fellow Munson, whom we left in the forest,
could have gotten here and warned them?" asked Mr. Damon.
"It's possible," admitted Tom, "but now let's see if the person
who pinned this warning on our tent took any of our things."
A hasty examination, however, showed that nothing had been
disturbed, and Tom and Mr. Damon were soon getting supper ready,
everyone talking, during the progress of the meal, about the
events of the day, and the rather weird culmination of it.
"Well, we haven't had a great deal of success--so far,"
admitted Tom, as they sat about the fire, in the fast gathering
dusk. "I think, perhaps, we'd better try on the other side of the
mountain to-morrow. We've explored this side pretty thoroughly."
"Good idea," commented Mr. Jenks. "We'll do it, and move our
camp. I only hope those fellows don't find our airship and
destroy it. We'll have a hard time getting back to civilization
again, if we have to walk all the way."
This contingency caused Tom some uneasiness. He did not like to
think that the unscrupulous men might damage the Red Cloud, that
had been built only after hard labor. But he knew he could
accomplish nothing by worrying, and he tried to dismiss the
matter from his mind.
They rather expected to see the thing in white again that
night, but it did not appear, and morning came without anything
having disturbed their heavy sleep, for they were tired from the
It took them the greater part of the day to make a circuit of
the base of Phantom Mountain in order to get to a place where a
sort of trail led upward.
"It's too late to do anything to-night," decided Tom, as they
set up the tent. "We'll rest, and start the first thing in the
"And the ghost isn't likely to find us here," added Mr. Damon.
"Where are you going, Mr. Parker?" he asked, as he saw the
scientist tramping a little way up the side of the mountain.
"I am going to make some observations," was the answer, and no
one paid any more attention to him for some time. Supper was
nearly ready when Mr. Parker returned. His face wore a rather
serious air, and Mr. Damon, noting it, asked laughingly:
"Well, did you discover any volcanoes, that may erupt during
the night, and scare us to death?"
"No," replied Mr. Parker, calmly, "but there is every
indication that we will soon have a terrific electrical storm.
From a high peak I caught a glimpse of one working this way
across the mountains."
"Then we'd better fasten the tent well down," called Tom. "We
don't want it to blow away."
"There will not be much danger from wind," was Mr. Parker's
"From what then?" asked Mr. Jenks.
"From the discharges of lightning among these mountain peaks,
which contain so much iron ore. We will be in grave danger."
The fact that the scientist had not always made correct
predictions was not now considered by his hearers, and Tom and
the two men gazed at Mr. Parker in some alarm.
"Is there anything we can do to avoid it?" asked Mr. Jenks.
"The only thing to do would be to leave the mountain," was the
answer, "and, as the iron ore extends for miles, we can not get
out of the danger zone before the storm will reach us. It will be
here in less than half an hour."
"Then we'd better have supper," remarked Tom, practically, "and
get ready for it. Perhaps it may not be as bad as Mr. Parker
"It will be bad enough," declared the gloomy scientist, and he
seemed to find pleasure in his announcement.
The meal was soon over, and Tom busied himself in looking to
the guy ropes of the tent, for he feared lest there might be wind
with the storm. That it was coming was evident, for now low
mutterings of thunder could be heard off toward the west.
Black clouds rapidly obscured the heavens, and the sound of
thunder increased. Fitful flashes of lightning could be seen
forking across the sky in jagged chains of purple light.
"It's going to be a heavy storm," Tom admitted to himself. "I
hope lightning doesn't strike around here."
The storm came on rapidly, but there was a curious quietness in
the air that was more alarming than if a wind had blown. The
campfire burned steadily, and there was a certain oppressiveness
in the atmosphere.
It was now quite dark, save when the fitful lightning flashes
came, and they illuminated the scene brilliantly for a few
seconds. Then, by contrast, it was blacker than ever.
Suddenly, as Tom was gazing up toward the peak of Phantom
Mountain, he saw something that caused him to cry out in alarm.
He pointed upward, and whispered hoarsely:
"The ghost again! There's our friend in white!"
The others looked, and saw the same weird figure that had
menaced them when they were encamped on the other side of the
"They must have followed us," said Mr. Jenks, in a low voice.
Slowly the figure advanced, It waved the long white arms, as if
in warning. At times it would be only dimly visible in the
blackness, then, suddenly it would stand out in bold relief as a
great flash of fire split the clouds.
The thunder, meanwhile, had been growing louder and sharper,
indicating the nearer approach of the storm. Each lightning flash
was followed in a second or two, by a terrific clap. Still there
was no wind nor rain, and the campfire burned steadily.
All at once there was a crash as if the very mountain had split
asunder, and the adventurers saw a great ball of purple-bluish
fire shoot down, as if from some cloud, and strike against the
side of the crag, not a hundred feet from where stood the ghostly
figure in white.
"That was a bad one," cried Mr. Damon, shouting so as to be
heard above the echoes of the thunderclap.
Almost as he spoke there came another explosion, even louder
than the one preceding. A great ball of fire, pear shaped, leaped
for the same spot in the mountain.
"There's a mass of iron ore there!" yelled Mr. Parker. "The
lightning is attracted to it!"
His voice was swallowed up in the terrific crash that followed,
and, as there came another flash of the celestial fire, the
figure in white could be seen hurrying back up the mountain
trail. Evidently the electrical storm, with lightning bolts
discharging so close, was too much for the "ghost."
In another instant it looked as if the whole place about where
the diamond seekers stood, was a mass of fire. Great forked
tongues of lightning leaped from the clouds, and seemed to lick
the ground. There was a rattle and bang of thunder, like the
firing of a battery of guns. Tom and the others felt themselves
tingling all over, as if they had hold of an electrical battery,
and there was a strong smell of sulphur in the air.
"We are in the midst of the storm!" cried Mr. Parker. "We are
standing on a mass of iron ore! Any minute may be our last!"
But fate had not intended the adventurers for death by
lightning. Almost as suddenly as it had begun, the discharge of
the tongues of fire ceased in the immediate vicinity of our
friends. They stood still--awed--not knowing what to do.
Then, once more, came a terrific clap! A great mass of fire,
like some red-hot ingot from a foundry, was hurled through the
air, straight at the face of the mountain, and at the spot where
the figure in white had stood but a few minutes before.
Instantly the earth trembled, as it had at Earthquake Island,
but it was not the same. It was over in a few seconds. Then, as
the diamond seekers looked, they saw in the glare of a score of
lightning flashes that followed the one great clap, the whole
side of the mountain slip away, and go crashing into the valley
"A landslide!" cried Mr. Parker. "That is the landslide which I
predicted! The lightning bolt has split Phantom Mountain!"
CHAPTER XVI - THE VAST CAVERN
For a time the roiling, slipping, sliding and tumbling of the
mass of earth and stones, down the side of the mountain,
effectually drowned all other sounds. Even the thunder was
stilled, and though Tom and his companions called to one another
in terror, their voices could not rise above that terrific
Finally, when they found that the direction of the slide was
away from their tent, and that they were not likely to be
engulfed, they grew more calm.
Gradually the noise subsided. The great boulders had rolled to
the bottom of the valley, and now only a mass of earth and stones
was sliding down. Even this stopped in about five minutes, and,
as though satisfied with what it had done, the electrical storm
passed. Not a drop of rain had fallen.
"Bless my shirt studs!" exclaimed Mr. Damon, who was the first
to speak after the din had quieted. "Bless my soul! But that was
"It was just what I expected," said Mr. Parker, calmly. "I
knew, from my observations, that we were in a region where
landslides and terrific electrical storms may be expected at any
time. I fully looked for this."
"Well," remarked Mr. Jenks, rather sarcastically, "I hope it
came up to your expectations, Mr. Parker."
"Oh, fully," was the answer, "though I wish it could have
happened in daylight, so that I could better have observed
certain phenomena regarding the landslide. They are very
"At a distance," admitted Tom, with a laugh of relief. "Well,
I'm glad it's over, though we'll have to wait until morning to
see what damage has been done. Lucky we weren't struck by
lightning. I never saw such bolts!"
"Me, either!" declared Mr. Damon. "This mountain seems to
"It is like a magnet," said Mr. Parker. "I think I shall be
able to make some fine observations here."
"If we live through it," murmured Mr. Jenks.
They watched the play of lightning about a distant bank of
clouds, but the storm was now far away, only a faint rumbling of
thunder being heard.
"I'm wondering what happened to the phantom," said Tom, after a
pause. "Seems to me he was right in that track of the storm."
"Do you think it was a 'he'?" asked Mr. Jenks.
"I think we'll find that it's some sort of a man," answered the
young inventor. "We may find out very soon, now. I've changed my
theory about the ghost being reflections of light."
"How's that?" Mr. Damon wanted to know.
"Well, I think we are on the side of Phantom Mountain where the
diamond cave is," went on the lad. "The fact that the phantom
appeared here, soon after we arrived, shows that the men kept
close track of our movements. It also shows, I think, that the
phantom did not have to travel far to be on the spot, whereas we
had to make quite a trip to get around the base of the mountain.
I think the cave is up there," and Tom pointed toward the spot
where the weird figure had been last seen, before the storm drove
"There may be two phantoms," suggested Mr. Jenks. "They may
keep one on this side of the mountain, and one on the other, to
warn intruders away.
"It's possible," admitted Tom. "Well, we'll see how things look
in the morning, when we'll take up our march again, and go up the
mountain. We'll reach the top, if possible, which we couldn't do
from the other side, as it was too steep."
"I hope we shall be able to go forward in the morning," came
from Mr. Jenks.
"What do you mean?" asked the lad, struck by a peculiar
significance in the diamond man's tones.
"Why, that landslide may have opened a great gully in the side
of Phantom Mountain, which will prevent us from passing. It was a
terrific lot of earth and stones that slid away," answered Mr.
"It certainly was," agreed Mr. Parker. "I would not be
surprised if the mountain was half destroyed, and it may be that
the diamond cave no longer exists."
"Not very cheerful, to say the least," murmured Mr. Jenks to
Tom, and, as it was getting quite chilly, following the storm,
they went inside the tent.
Tom could hardly wait for daylight, to get up and see what
havoc the landslide had wrought. As soon as the first faint flush
of dawn showed over the eastern peaks, he hurried from the tent.
Mr. Damon heard him arise, and followed.
A curious scene met their eyes. All about were great rocks rent
and torn by the awful power of the lightning. The fronts of the
stone cliffs were scarred and burned by the electrical fire, and
fantastic markings, grotesque faces, and leering animals seemed
to have been drawn by some gigantic artist who used a bolt from
heaven for his brush.
But the eyes of Tom and Mr. Damon took all this in at a glance,
and then their gaze went forward to where the avalanche had torn
away a great part of the mountain.
"Whew! I should say it was a landslide!" cried Tom.
"Bless my wishbone, yes!" agreed Mr. Damon.
Below them, in the valley, lay piled immense masses of earth
and stones. Boulders were heaped up on boulders, and rocks upon
rocks, being tossed about in heaps, strung about in long ridges,
and swirled about in curves, as though some cyclone had toyed
with them after the lightning flash had tossed them there.
"But the mountain isn't half gone," said Tom, as his eyes took
in what was left of the phantom berg. "I guess it will take a few
more bolts like that one, to put this hill out of business."
Though the landslide had been a great one, the larger part of
the mountain still stood. An immense slice had been taken from
one side, but the summit was untouched.
"And there's where the diamond cave is!" cried Tom, pointing to
"I think so myself," agreed Mr. Jenks, who came from the tent
at that moment, and joined the lad and Mr. Damon. "I think we
shall find the cave somewhere up there. We must start for it, as
soon as we have eaten, and we may reach it by night."
The three stood gazing up toward the summit of the great
mountain. Suddenly, as the sun rose higher in the heavens, it
sent a shaft of rosy light on the face of the berg that had been
scarred by the landslide. Tom Swift uttered an exclamation, and
pointed at something.
"See!" he cried. "Look where the trail is--the trail down which
the phantom must have come. It is on the edge of a cliff now!"
They looked, and saw that this was so. The increasing light had
just revealed it to them. When the lightning bolt had torn away a
great portion of the mountain it had cut sheer down for a great
depth and when the earth and stones fell away they left a narrow
pathway, winding around the mountain, but so near the edge of a
great chasm, that there was room but for one person at a time to
walk on that footway. The uncertain trail up Phantom Mountain had
all but been destroyed.
"The way up to the peak is by that path, now," spoke Tom, in a
"Bless my soul!" cried Mr. Damon. "It's as much as a man's life
is worth to attempt it. If he got dizzy, he'd topple over, and
fall a thousand feet. Dare we risk it?"
"It's the only way to get up," went on Tom. "It's either that
way, or not at all. We've tried the other side without success.
We must go up this way--or turn back."
"Then we'll go up!" cried Mr. Jenks. "It may not be as
dangerous as it looks from here."
But it was even more dangerous than it appeared, when they went
part way up it after a hasty breakfast. The trail was a mere
ledge of rock now, and in some places, to get around a projecting
edge of the mountain, they had to stand with their backs to the
dizzy depths at their feet, and with both arms outstretched work
their way around to where the trail was wider.
"Shall we risk it?" asked Tom, when they had tried the way, and
found it so dangerous. "We can't take anything with us--even our
guns, for we couldn't carry them, and if we reach the month of
the cave, and find those men there--"
He paused significantly. The adventurers looked at one another.
The search for the diamond makers was becoming more and more
"I say let's go on!" decided Mr. Damon, suddenly. "We want to
locate that cave, first of all. Perhaps, when we do find it, we
may see some easier way of getting to it than this. And if those
diamond makers do attack us--well, I don't believe they'll shoot
defenseless men, and they may listen to reason, and give Mr.
Jenks his rights--tell him how to make diamonds in return for the
money he gave them."
"I don't believe those scoundrels will listen to reason,"
replied the diamond man, "but I agree with Mr. Damon that we
ought to go on. We may find some other means of reaching the
cave--if we can discover it, and we'll take a chance with the
"Forward it is, then!" cried Tom. "I have a revolver, and I can
supply one of you gentlemen with another. They may come in useful
in an emergency. Let's go back to camp, take a little lunch in
our pockets, and try to scale the mountain."
They were soon on their way up the dizzy path once more, and,
as they advanced, they found it growing more and more dangerous.
In some places they found it almost impossible to get around
certain corners, where there was barely room for their feet. As
Tom remarked grimly, a fat man never could have done it.
Fortunately they were all comparatively thin, for their hard
work, and not too abundant food, since they had left the airship,
had reduced their weight.
Up and up they went, higher and higher, sometimes finding the
path wide enough for two to walk abreast, and again seeing it
narrow almost to a ribbon. They hardly dared look down into the
chasm at their left--a chasm filled, in part, with the rocks and
boulders tossed into it by the lightning bolt.
Tom was in the lead, and had just made a dangerous turn around
a shoulder of rock--one of those places where he had to extend
both arms, and fairly hug the cliff before he could get around.
But, when he had made it, and found himself on a broad pathway,
cut in the living rock, he gave a great shout--a shout that
caused his companions to hasten to his side. They found the young
inventor pointing to a clump of bushes and small trees.
But it was not the shrubbery that Tom desired to call to their
attention. They saw that in an instant, for, dimly seen through
the leaves, was something black, and, as they looked more
closely, they saw that it was a great hole in the side of the
mountain--a vast cavern, opening like a tunnel.
"The cave! The cave!" cried Tom. "The diamond makers' cave
Hardly had he spoken than two men, each one carrying a gun,
showed themselves in the mouth of the cavern, and, instant later
they both ran toward the little party of adventurers.
CHAPTER XVII - THE PHANTOM CAPTURED
Surprise held Tom and his friends almost spellbound for the
moment. The young inventor's hand went toward the pocket where he
carried his revolver. Mr. Jenks, who had the only other weapon,
sought to draw it, but he was stopped by a gesture of one of the
two men with guns.
"Hold on, strangers!" the man cried. "I know what you're up to!
Better not try to draw anything--it might not be healthy. Now,
then, who are you, and what do you want?"
The question came rather as a surprise, at least to Tom and Mr.
Jenks. They had taken it for granted that these men--if they were
the diamond makers--would know Mr. Jenks, and guess at his errand
in coming back to Phantom Mountain. But, it seemed, that they
took them all for casual strangers.
No one answered for a moment. Tom caught the eye of Mr. Jenks,
and there was a look of hope in it. If ever there was a time for
strategy, it was now. Evidently Munson, the stowaway on the
airship, had not yet been able to send a warning to his
confederates. And neither of the two men recognized Mr. Jenks as
the man who had been defrauded of his rights. It might be
possible to conceal the real object of the adventurers until they
had time to formulate a plan of action.
"Well," exclaimed the man with the gun, impatiently, "I ask you
folks a question. What do you want?"
Fortunately, neither Mr. Damon nor Mr. Parker replied. The
former because he deferred to Tom and Mr. Jenks, and the
scientist because he was busy inspecting some curious rocks he
picked up. As it turned out this was the luckiest thing he could
have done. It lent color to what Mr. Jenks said a moment later.
"What are you doing up here?" demanded the man again. "Don't
you know this is private property?"
"We--we were just looking around," answered Mr. Jenks, which
was true enough; as far as it went.
"Prospecting," added Tom.
"After gold?" demanded the second man, suspiciously.
"We'd be glad to find some," retorted the lad. At that moment
Mr. Parker began breaking off bits of rock with a small
geologist's hammer which he carried. The men with the guns looked
"So you think you'll find gold up here?" asked the one who had
"Is there any?" inquired Tom, trying to make his voice sound
"Nary a bit, strangers," was the answer, and the two men
laughed heartily. "Now, we don't want to seem harsh," went on the
man who seemed to be the spokesman, "but you'd better get away
from here. This is private ground, and dangerous too--how'd you
ever get up the trail--we heard it was destroyed."
"There is still a narrow path," said Mr. Jenks. "We came up
that--the lightning and landslide haven't left much of it,
Mr. Parker looked quickly up from the rocks at which he was
tapping with his small hammer. "You have terrific lightning up
here," he said. "I am much interested in it, from a scientific
standpoint. I predict that some day the entire mountain will be
destroyed by a blast from the sky."
"I hope it won't be right away," spoke one of the men. "Now I
guess you folks had better be leaving while there's a path left
to go down by."
"Might I ask," broke in Mr. Parker, as calmly as though he was
lecturing to a class of students, "might I ask if you have
noticed any peculiar effect of the lightning up here on the
summit of the mountain? Does it fuse and melt rocks, so to
"What's that?" cried the spokesman, with a sudden flash of
anger. The two men looked at each other.
"I wanted to know, merely for scientific reasons, whether the
lightning up here ever melted rocks?" repeated Mr. Jenks.
"Well, whether it's for scientific reasons or for any other,
I'm not going to answer you!" snapped the man. "It's none of your
affair what the lightning does up here. Now you'd all better
"All right--we'll go," said Tom, quickly, at the same time
motioning to Mr. Jenks to agree with him. The eyes of the young
inventor were roving about. He saw what looked like a second
trail, leading down the mountain, from the far side of the cave.
He was convinced now that there was another way to get to it.
Possibly they might find it. At any rate nothing more could be
done now. They must go back, for the cavern was too well guarded
to attempt to enter it by force--at least just yet.
"Yes, we'll go back," assented Mr. Jenks.
Mr. Parker was tapping away at the rocks. He looked toward the
black mouth of the big cave. On what corresponded to the roof of
it, some distance back from the entrance, he saw a slender metal
rod sticking up into the air.
"May I ask if that's a lightning rod?" he inquired innocently.
"If it is, I should like to ask about its action in a mountain
that is so impregnated with iron ore.
"You may ask until you get tired!" cried the spokesman, again
showing unreasoning anger, "but you'll get no answer from us. Now
get away from here before we do something desperate. You're on
private ground and you're not wanted. Clear out while you have
There was no help for it. Slowly our friends turned and began
to go down the dangerous trail. They were soon out of sight of
the two men who stood before the cave, with their guns ready, but
neither Tom nor any of his companions spoke for some time.
When they had rounded one of the most dangerous turns the young
inventor sat down to rest, an example followed by the others.
"Well," asked Tom, "do you think those are some of the diamond
makers, Mr. Jenks?"
"I certainly do, though I never saw those two men before. If I
could once get inside the cave, I could tell whether or not it
was the one where I was practically held a prisoner. But I'm sure
it is. I know some of the men used to go off every day with guns,
and not come back until night. I have no doubt they were on
guard, just as these two are. And, also, I think I heard them
speak of a second entrance to the cavern. The one we just saw may
not be the main one, through which I was taken."
"I believe we are on the right track," ventured Mr. Damon, "but
we will either have to go up there after dark, which will be
risky, on account of the narrow trail, or else we will have to
find some other path."
"The last would be better," spoke Tom.
"That rod of metal sticking up on top of the cave interested
me," said the scientist. "Did you hear anything of that when you
were here before, Mr. Jenks?"
"No. Probably that is only a lightning rod, or it may be a
staff for a signal flag. But what surprises me is that those men
didn't suspect that we were seeking to discover their secret.
They took us for ordinary prospectors."
"So much the better," remarked Tom. "We have a chance now of
getting inside that cave. But we will have to go back to camp,
and make other plans. And we must hurry, or it will be dark
before we get there."
They hastened their steps, pausing only briefly to eat some of
the lunch they had brought along, and to drink from a spring that
bubbled from the side of the mountain. It was getting dusk when
they got back to their tent. They found nothing disturbed.
"I wonder if we'll see that phantom again to-night?" ventured
Tom, as they were sitting about the campfire a little later.
"Probably not," remarked Mr. Jenks. "I don't believe the ghost
will venture down the dangerous trail after dark, and the gang
may think that the warning given us by the two men on guard at
the cave will be sufficient. But if we don't leave here by
to-morrow I think we will have another visit from the thing in
It was about an hour after this when Tom was collecting some
wood in a pile nearer the fire, so as to have it ready to throw
on, in case there was any alarm in the night, that he happened to
look up toward the summit of the mountain. A slight noise, as of
loose stones rolling down, attracted his attention, and, at
first, he feared lest another landslide was beginning, but a
moment later he saw what caused it.
There, advancing down the steep and dangerous trail was the
figure in white--the phantom. Instantly a daring plan came into
Tom's head. Dropping the wood softly, he moved back out of the
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