Tom Swift And His Big Tunnel
Part 1 out of 4
TOM SWIFT AND HIS BIG TUNNEL
The Hidden City of the Andes
I An Appeal for Aid
III A Face at the Window
IV Tom's Experiments
V Mary's Present
VI Mr. Nestor's Letter
VII Off for Peru
VIII The Bearded Man
IX The Bomb
X Professor Bumper
XI In the Andes
XII The Tunnel
XIII Tom's Explosive
XIV Mysterious Disappearances
XV Frightened Indians
XVI On the Watch
XVII The Condor
XVIII The Indian Strike
XIX A Woman Tells
XXI A New Explosive
XXII The Fight
XXIII A Great Blast
XXIV The Hidden City
TOM SWIFT AND HIS BIG TUNNEL
An Appeal for Aid
Tom Swift, seated in his laboratory engaged in trying to
solve a puzzling question that had arisen over one of his
inventions, was startled by a loud knock on the door. So
emphatic, in fact, was the summons that the door trembled,
and Tom started to his feet in some alarm.
"Hello there!" he cried. "Don't break the door, Koku!" and
then he laughed. "No one but my giant would knock like
that," he said to himself. "He never does seem able to do
things gently. But I wonder why he is knocking. I told him
to get the engine out of the airship, and Eradicate said
he'd be around to answer the telephone and bell. I wonder if
anything has happened?
Tom shoved back his chair, pushed aside the mass of papers
over which he had been puzzling, and strode to the door.
Flinging it open he confronted a veritable giant of a man,
nearly eight feet tall, and big in proportion. The giant,
Koku, for that was his name, smiled in a good-natured way,
reminding one of an overgrown boy.
"Master hear my knock?" the giant asked cheerfully.
"Hear you, Koku? Say, I couldn't hear anything else!"
exclaimed Tom. "Did you think you had to arouse the whole
neighborhood just to let me know you were at the door? Jove!
I thought you'd have it off the hinges."
"If me break, me fix," said Koku, who, from his appearance
and from his imperfect command of English, was evidently a
"Yes, I know you can fix lots of things, Koku," Tom went
on, kindly enough. "But you musn't forget what enormous
strength you have. That's the reason I sent you to take the
engine out of the airship. You can lift it without using the
chain hoist, and I can't get the chain hoist fast unless I
remove all the superstructure. I don't want to do that. Did
you get the engine out?"
"Not quite. Almost, Master."
"Then why are you here? Has anything gone wrong?"
"No, everything all right, Master. But man come to
machine shop and say he must have talk with you. I no let
him come past the gate, but I say I come and call you."
"That's right, Koku. Don't let any strangers past the
gate. But why didn't Eradicate come and call me. He isn't
doing anything, is he? Unless, indeed, he has gone to feed
his mule, Boomerang."
"Eradicate, he come to call you, but that black man no
good!" and Koku chuckled so heartily that he shook the floor
of the office.
"What's the matter with Eradicate?" asked Tom, somewhat
anxiously. "I hope you and he haven't had another row?"
Eradicate had served Tom and his father long before Koku,
the giant, had been brought back from one of the young
inventor's many strange trips, and ever since then there had
been a jealous rivalry between the twain as to who should
best serve Tom.
"No trouble, Master," said Koku. "Eradicate he start to
come and tell you strange man want to have talk, but
Eradicate he no come fast enough. So I pick him up, and I
set him down by gate to stand on guard, and I come to tell
you. Koku come quick!"
"Oh, I knew it must be something like that!" exclaimed Tom
in some vexation. "Now I'll have Eradicate complaining to me
that you mauled him. Picked him up and set him down again;
"Sure. One hand!" boasted the giant. "Eradicate him not be
heavy. More as a sack of flour now."
"No, poor Eradicate is getting pretty old and thin,"
commented Tom. "He can't move very quickly. But you should
have let him come, Koku. It makes him feel badly when he
thinks he can't be of service to me any more.
"Man say he in hurry." The giant spoke softly, as though
he felt the gentle rebuke Tom administered. "Koku run quick
tell you--bang on door."
"Yes, you banged all right, Koku. Well, it can't be
helped, I reckon. Where is this strange man? Who is he? Did
you ever see him before?"
"Me no can tell, Master. Not sure. But him now be at the
outer gate. Eradicate watch."
"All right. I'll go and see who it is. I don't want any
strangers poking around here, especially With the plans of
my new gyroscope lying in plain view."
Before he left the laboratory Tom swept into a desk drawer
the mass of papers and blue prints, and locked the
"No use taking any chances," he remarked. "I've had too
much trouble with people trying to get inside information
about dad's and my patents. Now, Koku, I'll go and see this
The buildings composing the plant of Tom Swift and his
father at Shopton were enclosed by a high, board fence, and
at one of the entrances was a sort of gate-house, where some
one was always on guard. Only those who could give a good
account of themselves, workmen in the plant, or those known
to the sentinel were admitted.
It happened that the colored man, Eradicate, was on guard
at the gates this day when the stranger asked to see Tom.
Koku, working on the airship engine not far away, saw the
stranger. Hearing the man say he was in a hurry and noting
the slow progress of the aged Eradicate, who was troubled
with rheumatism, the giant took matters into his own hands.
Tom Swift entered the gate-house and saw, seated in a
chair, a man who was impatiently tapping the floor with his
"Looks like a detective or a policeman in disguise,"
thought Tom, for, almost invariably, members of this
profession wear very thick-soled shoes. Opposite the
stranger sat Eradicate, a much-injured look on his honest,
"Oh, Massa Tom!" exclaimed Eradicate, as soon as the young
inventor entered. "Dat Koku he--he--he done gone and cotch
me by de collar ob mah coat, an' den he lif' me up, an' he
sot me down so hard--so hard--dat he jar loose all mah back
teef!" and Eradicate opened his mouth wide to display his
"Eradicate, he no can come quick. He walk like so
fashion!" and Koku, who had followed the young inventor,
imitated the limping gait of the colored man with such a
queer effect that Tom could not help laughing, and the
"Ef I gits holt on yo'--ef I does, yo' great, big,
overgrown lummox, Ah'll--Ah'll--" began the colored man,
"There. That will do now!" interrupted Tom. "Don't quarrel
in here. Koku, get back to that engine and lift out the
motor. Eradicate, didn't father tell you to whitewash the
chicken coops to-day?"
"Dat's what he done, Massa Tom.
"Well, go and see about that. I'll stay here for a while,
and when I leave I'll call one of you, or some one else, to
be on guard. Skip now!"
Having thus disposed of the warring factions, Tom turned
to the stranger and after apologizing for the little
"You wished to see me?"
"If you're Tom Swift; yes."
"Well, I'm Tom Swift," and the young owner of the name
"I hope you will pardon a stranger for calling on you,"
resumed the man, "but I'm in a lot of trouble, and I think
you are the only one who can help me out."
"What sort of trouble?" Tom inquired.
"Contracting trouble--tunnel blasting, to be exact. But if
you have a few minutes to spare perhaps you will listen to
my story. You will then be better able to understand my
Tom Swift considered a moment. He was used to having
appeals for help made to him, and usually they were of a
begging nature. He was often asked for money to help some
struggling inventor complete his machine.
In many cases the machines would have been of absolutely
no use if perfected. In other cases the inventions were of
the utterly hopeless class, incapable of perfection, like
some perpetual motion apparatus. In these cases Tom turned a
deaf ear, though if the inventor were in want our hero
But this case did not seem to be like anything Tom had
ever met with before.
"Contracting trouble--blasting," repeated the youth, as he
mused over what he had heard.
"That's it," the man went on. "Permit me to introduce
myself" and he held out a card, on which was the name
MR. JOB TITUS
Down in the lower left-hand corner was a line:
"Titus Brothers, Contractors."
"I am glad to meet you, "Mr. Titus," Tom said warmly,
offering his hand. "I don't know anything about the
contracting business, but if you do blasting I suppose you
use explosives, and I know a little about them."
"So I have heard, and that's why I came to you," the
contractor went on. "Now if you'll give me a few minutes of
"You had better come up to the house," interrupted Tom.
"We can talk more quietly there."
Calling a young fellow who was at work near by to occupy
the gate-house, Tom led Mr. Titus toward the Swift
homestead, and, a little later, ushered him into the
"Now I'll listen to you," the youth said, "though I can't
promise to aid you."
"I realize that," returned Mr. Titus. "This is a sort of
last chance I'm taking. My brother and I have heard a lot
about you, and when he wrote to me that he was unable to
proceed with his contract of tunneling the Andes Mountains
for the Peruvian government, I made up my mind you were the
one who could help us if you would."
"Tunneling the Andes Mountains!" exclaimed Tom.
"Yes. The firm represented by my brother and myself have a
contract to build a railroad for the Peruvian government. At
a point some distance back in the district east of Lima,
Peru, we are making a tunnel under the mountain. That is, we
have it started, but now we can't advance any further."
"Because of the peculiar character of the rock, which
seems to defy the strongest explosive we can get. Now I
understand you used a powder in your giant cannon that--"
Mr. Titus paused in his explanation, for at that moment
there arose such a clatter out on the front piazza as
effectually to drown conversation. There was a noise of the
hoofs of a horse, the fall of a heavy body, a tattoo on the
porch floor and then came an excited shout:
"Whoa there! Whoa! Stop! Look out where you're kicking!
Bless my saddle blanket! Ouch! There I go!"
"What in the world is that?" cried Mr. Job Titus, in alarm.
Tom Swift did not answer. Instead he jumped up from his
chair and ran toward the front door. Mr. Titus followed.
They both saw a strange sight.
Standing on the front porch, which he seemed to occupy
completely, was a large horse, with a saddle twisted
underneath him. The animal was looking about him as calmly
as though he always made it a practice to come up on the
front piazza when stopping at a house.
Off to one side, with a crushed hat on the back of his
head, with a coat split up the back, with a broken riding
crop in one hand and a handkerchief in the other, sat a
dignified, elderly gentleman.
That is, he would have been dignified had it not been for
his position and condition. No gentleman can look dignified
with a split coat and a crushed hat on, sitting under the
nose of a horse on a front piazza, with his raiment
otherwise much disheveled, while he wipes his scratched and
bleeding face with a handkerchief.
"Bless my--bless my--" began the elderly gentleman, and he
seemed at a loss what particular portion of his anatomy or
that of the horse, to bless, or what portion of the universe
to appeal to, for he ended up with: "Bless everything, Tom
"I heartily agree with you, Mr. Damon!" cried Tom. "But
what in the world happened?"
"That!" exclaimed Mr. Damon, pointing with his broken crop
at the horse on the piazza. "I was riding him when he ran
away--just as my motorcycle tried to climb a tree. No more
horses for me! I'll stick to airships," and slamming his
riding crop down on the porch floor with such force that the
horse started back, Mr. Damon arose, painfully enough if the
contortions on his face and his grunts of pain went for
"Let me help you!" begged Tom, striding forward. "Mr.
Titus, perhaps you will kindly lead the horse down off the
"Certainly!" answered the tunnel contractor. "Whoa now!"
he called soothingly, as the steed evinced a disposition to
sit down on the side railing. "Steady now!"
The horse finally allowed himself to be led down the broad
front steps, sadly marking them, as well as the floor of the
piazza, with his sharp shoes.
"Ouch! Oh, my back!" exclaimed Mr. Damon, as Tom helped
him to stand up.
"Is it hurt?" asked Tom, anxiously.
"No, I've just got what old-fashioned folks call a 'crick'
in it," explained the elderly horseman. "But it feels more
like a river than a 'crick.' I'll be all right presently."
"How did it happen?" asked Tom, as he led his guest toward
the hall. Meanwhile Mr. Titus, wondering what it was all
about, had tied the horse to a post out near the street
curb, and had re-entered the library.
"I was riding over to see you, Tom, to ask you if you
wouldn't go to South America with me," began Mr. Damon,
rubbing his leg tenderly.
"South America?" cried Tom, with a sudden look at Mr.
"Yes, South America. Why, there isn't anything strange in
that, is there? You've been to wilder countries, and
farther away than that."
"Yes, I know--it's just a coincidence. Go on."
"Let me get where I can sit down," begged Mr. Damon. "I
think that crick in my back is running down into my legs,
Tom. I feel a bit weak. Let me sit down, and get me a glass
of water. I shall be all right presently."
Between them Tom and Mr. Titus assisted the horseman into
an easy chair, and there, under the influence of a cup of
hot tea, which Mrs. Baggert, the housekeeper, insisted on
making for him, he said he felt much better, and would
explain the reason for his call which had culminated in such
a sensational manner.
And while Mr. Damon is preparing his explanation I will
take just a few moments to acquaint my new readers with some
facts about Tom Swift, and the previous volumes of this
series in which he has played such prominent parts.
Tom Swift was the son of an inventor, and not only
inherited his father's talents, but had greatly added to
them, so that now Tom had a wonderful reputation.
Mr. Swift was a widower, and he and Tom lived in a big
house in Shopton, New York State, with Mrs. Baggert for a
housekeeper. About the house, from time to time, shops and
laboratories had been erected, until now there was a large
and valuable establishment belonging to Tom and his father.
The first volume of this series is entitled, "Tom Swift
and His Motor Cycle." It was through a motor cycle that Tom
became acquainted with Mr. Wakefield Damon, who lived in a
neighboring town. Mr. Damon had bought the motor cycle for
himself, but, as he said, one day in riding it the machine
tried to climb a tree near the Swift house.
The young inventor (for even then he was working on
several patents) ministered to Mr. Damon, who, disgusted
with the motor cycle, and wishing to reward Tom, let the
young fellow have the machine.
Tom's career began from that hour. For he learned to ride
the motor cycle, after making some improvements in it, and
from then on the youth had led a busy life. Soon afterward
he secured a motor boat and from that it was but a step to
The medium of the air having been conquered, Tom again
turned his attention to the water, or rather, under the
water, and he and his father made a submarine. Then he built
an electric runabout, the speediest car on the road.
It was when Ton Swift had occasion to send his wireless
message from a lonely island where he had been shipwrecked
that he was able to do Mr. and Mrs. Nestor a valuable
service, and this increased the regard which Miss Mary
Nestor felt for the young inventor, a regard that bid fair,
some day, to ripen into something stronger.
Tom Swift might have made a fortune when he set out to
discover the secret of the diamond makers. But Fate
intervened, and soon after that quest he went to the caves
of ice, where he and his friends met with disaster. In his
sky racer Tom broke all records for speed, and when he went
to Africa to rescue a missionary, had it not been for his
electric rifle the tide of battle would have gone against
him and his party.
Marvelous, indeed, were the adventures underground, which
came to Tom when he went to look for the city of gold, but
the treasure there was not more valuable than the platinum
which Tom sought in dreary Siberia by means of his air
Tom thought his end had come when he fell into captivity
among the giants; but even that turned out well, and he
brought two of the giants away with him. Koku, one of the
two giants, became devotedly attached to the lad, much to
the disgust of Eradicate Sampson, the old negro who had
worked for the Swifts for a generation, and who, with his
mule Boomerang, "eradicated" from the place as much dirt as
With his wizard camera Tom did much to advance the cause
of science. His great searchlight was of great help to the
United States government in putting a stop to the Canadian
smugglers, while his giant cannon was a distinct advance in
ordnance, not excepting the great German guns used in the
When Tom perfected his photo telephone the last objection
to rendering telephonic conversation admissible evidence in
a law court was done away with, for by this invention a
person was able to see, as well as to hear, over the
telephone wire. One practically stood face to face with the
person, miles away, to whom one was talking.
The volume immediately preceding this present one is
called: "Tom Swift and His Aerial Warship." The young
inventor perfected a marvelous aircraft that was the naval
terror of the seas, and many governments, recognizing what
an important part aircraft were going to play in all future
conflicts, were anxious to secure Tom's machine. But he was
true to his own country, though his rivals were nearly
successful in their plots against him.
The Mars, which was the name of Tom's latest craft, proved
to be a great success, and the United States government
purchased it. It was not long after the completion of this
transaction that the events narrated in the first chapter of
this book took place.
Mr. Damon and Tom had been firm friends ever since the
episode of the motor cycle, and the eccentric gentleman (who
blessed so many things) often went with Tom on his trips.
Besides Mary Nestor, Tom had other friends. The one, after
Miss Nestor, for whom he cared most (if we except Mr. Damon)
was Ned Newton, who was employed in a Shopton bank. Ned also
had often gone with Tom, though lately, having a better
position, he had less time to spare.
"Well, do you feel better, Mr. Damon?" asked Tom, after a
"Yes, very much, thank you. Bless my pen wiper! but I
thought I was done for when I saw my horse bolt for your
front stoop. He rushed up it, fell down, but, fortunately, I
managed to get out of his way, though the saddle girth
slipped. And all I could think of was that my wife would
say: 'I told you so!' for she warned me not to ride this
"But he never ran away with me before, and I was in a
hurry to get over to see you, Tom. Now then, let's get down
to business. Will you go to South America with me?"
"Whereabout in South America are you going, Mr. Damon, and
why?" Tom asked.
"To Peru, Tom."
"What a coincidence!" exclaimed Mr. Titus.
"I beg your pardon?" said Mr. Damon, interrogatively.
"I said what a coincidence. I am going there myself."
"Excuse me," interposed Tom, "I don't believe, in the
excitement of the moment, I introduced you gentlemen. Allow
me--Mr. Damon--Mr. Titus."
The presentation over, Mr. Damon went on:
"You see, Tom, I have lately invested considerable money
in a wholesale drug concern. We deal largely in Peruvian
remedies, principally the bark of the cinchona tree, from
which quinine is made. Of late there has been some trouble
over our concession from the Peruvian government, and the
company has decided to send me down there to investigate.
"Of course, as soon as I made up my mind to go I thought
of you. So I came over to see if you would not accompany me.
All went well until I reached your front gate. Then my horse
became frightened by a yellow toy balloon some boy was
blowing up in the street and bolted with me. I suppose if it
had been a red or green balloon the effect would have been
the same. However, here I am, somewhat the worse for wear.
Now Tom, what do you say? Will you go to South America--to
Peru--with me, and help look up this Quinine business?"
Once more Mr. Titus and Tom looked at each other.
A Face at the Window
"What is the matter?" asked Mr. Damon, catching the glance
between Tom and the contractor. "Is there anything wrong
with South America--Peru? I know they have lots of
revolutions in those countries, but I don't believe Peru is
what they call a 'banana republic'; is it?"
"No," and Mr. Titus shook his head. "It isn't a question
"But it's something!" insisted Mr. Damon. "Bless my ink
bottle! but it's something. As soon as I mention Peru, Tom,
you and Mr. Titus eye each other as if I'd said something
dreadful. Out with it! What is it?"
"It's just--just a coincidence," Tom said. "But go on, Mr.
Damon. Finish what you have to say and then we'll explain."
"Well, I guess I've told you all you need to know for the
present. I went into this wholesale drug concern, hoping to
make some money, but now, on account of the trouble down in
Peru, we stand to lose considerable unless I can get back
the cinchona concession."
"What does that mean?" Tom asked.
"Well, it means that our concern secured from the Peruvian
government the right to take this quinine-producing bark
from the trees in a certain tropical section. But there has
been a change in the government in the district where our
men were working, and now the privilege, or concession, has
been withdrawn. I'm going down to see if I can't get it
back. And I want you to go with me."
"And I came here for very nearly the same thing," went on
Mr. Titus. "That is where the coincidence comes in. It is
strange that we should both appeal to Mr. Swift at the same
"Well, Tom's a valuable helper!" exclaimed Mr. Damon. "I
know him of old, for I've been on many a trip with him."
"This is the first time I have had the pleasure of meeting
him," resumed the tunnel contractor, "but I have heard of
him. I did not ask him to go to South America for us. I only
wanted to get some superior explosive for my brother, who is
in charge of driving the railroad tunnel through a spur of
the Andes. I look after matters up North here, but I may
have to go to Peru myself.
"As I told Mr. Swift, I had read of his invention of the
giant cannon and the special powder he used in it to send a
projectile such a distance. The cannon is now mounted as one
of the pieces of ordnance for the defense of the Panama
Canal, is it not?" he asked Tom.
The young inventor nodded in assent.
"Having heard of you, and the wonderful explosive used in
your big cannon," the contractor went on, "I wrote to my
brother that I would try and get some for him.
"You see," he resumed, "this is the situation. Back in the
Andes Mountains, a couple of hundred miles east of Lima, the
government is building a short railroad line to connect two
others. If this is done it will mean that the products of
Peru--quinine bark, coffee, cocoa, sugar, rubber, incense
and gold can more easily be transported. But to connect the
two railroad lines a big tunnel must be constructed.
"My brother and I make a specialty of such work, and when
we saw bids advertised for, our firm put in an estimate.
There was some trouble with a rival firm, which also bid,
but we secured the contract, and bound ourselves to have the
tunnel finished within a certain time, or forfeit a large
"That was over a year ago. Since then our men, aided by
the native Indians of Peru, have been tunneling the
mountain, until, about a month back, we struck a snag."
"What sort of snag?" Tom asked.
"A snag in the shape of extra hard rock," replied the
tunnel contractor. "Briefly, Paleozoic rocks make up the
eastern part of the Andean Mountains in Peru, while the
western range is formed of Mesozoic beds, volcanic ashes and
lava of comparatively recent date. Near the coast the lower
hills are composed of crystalline rocks, syenite and
granite, with, here and there, a strata of sandstone or
limestone. These are, undoubtedly, relics of the lower
Cretaceous age, and we, or rather, my brother, states that
he has found them covered with marine Tertiary deposits.
"Now this Mesozoic band varies greatly. Porphyritic tuffs
and massive limestone compose the western chain of the Andes
above Lima, while in the Oroya Valley we find carbonaceous
sandstones. Some of the tuffs may be of the Jurassic age,
though the Cretaceous period is also largely represented.
"Now while these different masses of rock formation offer
hard enough problems to the tunnel digger, still we are more
or less prepared to meet them, and we figured on a certain
percentage of them. Up to the present time we have met with
just about what we expected, but what we did not expect was
something we came upon when the tunnel had been driven three
miles into the mountain."
"What did you find?" asked Tom, who knew enough about
geology to understand the terms used. Mr. Damon did not,
however, and when Mr. Titus rolled off some of the technical
words, the drug investor softly murmured such expressions as
"Bless my thermometer! Bless my porous plaster!"
"We found," resumed Mr. Titus, "after we bad bored for a
considerable distance into the mountain, a mass of volcanic
rock which is so hard that our best diamond drills are
dulled in a short time, and the explosives we use merely
shatter the face of the cutting, and give us hardly any
progress at all.
"It was after several trials, and when my brother found
that he was making scarcely any progress, compared to the
energy of his men and the blasting, that he wrote to me,
explaining matters. I at once thought of you, Tom Swift, and
your powerful explosive, for I had read about it.
"Now then, will you sell us some of your powder--explosive
or whatever you call it--Mr. Swift, or tell us where we can
get it? We need it soon, for we are losing valuable time."
Mr. Titus paused to draw on a piece of paper a rough map
of Peru, and the district where the tunnel was being
constructed. He showed where the two railroad lines were,
and where the new route would bring them together, the
tunnel eliminating a big grade up which it would have been
impossible to haul trains of any weight.
"What do you say, Mr. Swift?" the contractor concluded.
"Will you let us have some of your powder? Or, better still,
will you come to Peru yourself? That would suit us
immensely, for you could be right on the ground. And you
could carry out your plan of going with your friend here,"
and Mr. Titus nodded toward Mr. Damon. "That is, if you were
thinking of going."
"Well, I was thinking of it," Tom admitted. "Mr. Damon and
I have been on so many trips together that it seems sort of
natural for us to 'team it.' I have never been to Peru, and
I should like to see the country. There is only one matter
though, that bothers me."
"What is it?" asked Mr. Titus quickly. "If it is a
question of money dismiss it from your mind. The Peruvian
government is paying a large sum for this tunnel, and we
stand to make considerable, even if we were the lowest
bidders. We can afford to pay you well--that is, we shall be
able to if we can complete the bore on time. That is what is
bothering me now--the unexpected strata of hard rock we have
met with, which seems impossible to blast. But I feel sure
we can do it with the explosive used in your giant cannon."
"That is just the point!" Tom exclaimed. "I am not so sure
my explosive would do."
"Why not?" the tunnel contractor asked. "It's powerful
enough; isn't it?"
"Yes, it is powerful enough, but whether it will have the
right effect on volcanic rock is hard to say. I should like
to see a rock sample."
"I can telegraph to have some sent here to you," said Mr.
Titus eagerly. "Meantime, here is a description of it. I can
read you that"; and, taking a letter from his pocket, he
read to Tom a geological description of the hard rock.
"Hum! Yes," mused Tom, as he listened. "It seems to be of
the nature of obsidian."
"Bless my watch chain!" cried Mr. Damon. "What's that?"
"Obsidian is a volcanic rock--a sort of combination of
glass and flint for hardness," Tom explained. "It is
brittle, black in color, and the natives of the Admiralty
Islands use it for tipping their spears with which they slay
victims for their cannibalistic feasts."
"Bless my--bless my ear-drums!" gasped Mr. Damon.
"Obsidian was also used by the ancient Mexicans to make
knives and daggers," Tom went on. "When Cortez conquered
Mexico he found the priests cutting the hearts from their
living victims with knives made from this volcanic glass-
like rock, known as obsidian. It may be that your brother
has met with a vein of that in the tunnel," Tom said to
"Possibly," admitted Mr. Titus.
"In that case," Tom stated, "I may have to use a new kind
of explosive. That used for my giant cannon would merely
crumble the hard rock for a short distance."
"Then will you accept the contract, and help us out?"
asked Mr. Titus eagerly. "We will pay you well. Will you
come to Peru and look over the ground?"
"And kill two birds with one stone, and come with me
also?" put in Mr. Damon.
Tom pondered for a moment. He was about to answer when the
tunnel contractor, who was looking from the library window,
suddenly jumped from his chair crying:
"There he is again! Once more dogging me!"
As he rushed from the room, Tom and Mr. Damon had a
glimpse of a face at one of the low library windows--a face
that had an evil look. It disappeared as Mr. Titus ran from
"Bless my looking glass, Tom, what does that mean?"
exclaimed Mr. Damon. "That face!"
"I don't know," answered the young inventor. "But the
sight of some one looking in here seemed to disturb Mr.
Titus. We must follow him."
"Perhaps he saw your giant Koku looking in," suggested the
odd, little man who blessed everything he could think of.
"The sight of his face, to any one not knowing him, Tom,
would be enough to cause fright."
"It wasn't Koku who looked in the window," said Tom,
decidedly. "It was some stranger. Come on."
The young inventor and Mr. Damon hurried out after the
tunnel contractor, who was running down the road that led in
front of the Swift homestead.
"He's chasing some one, Tom," called Mr. Damon.
"Yes, I see he is. But who?"
"I can't see any one," reported Mr. Damon, who had run
down to the gate, at which his horse was still standing.
Mr. Damon had washed the dirt from his hands and face, and
was wearing one of Mr. Swift's coats in place of his own
Tom joined the eccentric man and together they looked down
the road after the running Mr. Titus. They were in half a
mind to join him, when they saw him pull up short, raise his
hands as though he had given over the pursuit, and turn
"I guess he got away, whoever he was," remarked Tom.
"We'll walk down and meet Mr. Titus, and ask him what it all
Shortly afterward they came up to the contractor, who was
breathing heavily after his run, for he was evidently not
used to such exercise.
"I beg your pardon, Tom Swift, for leaving you and Mr.
Damon in such a fashion," said Mr. Titus, "but I had to act
quickly or lose the chance of catching that rascal. As it
was, he got away, but I think I gave him a scare, and h~e
knows that I saw him. It will make him more cautious in the
"Who was it?" asked Tom.
"Well, I didn't have as close a look as I could have
wished for," the contractor said, as he walked back toward
the house with Tom and Mr. Damon, "but I'm pretty sure the
face that peered in at us through the library window was
that of Isaac Waddington."
"And who is he, if it isn't asking information that ought
not be given out?" inquired Mr. Damon.
"Oh, no, certainly. I can tell you," said the contractor.
"Only perhaps we had better wait until we get back to the
"Since one of their men was seen lurking around here there
may be others," went on Mr. Titus, when the three were once
more seated in the Swift library. "It is best to be on the
safe side. The face I saw, I'm sure, was that of Waddington,
who is a tool of Blakeson & Grinder, rival tunnel
contractors. They put in a bid on this Andes tunnel, but we
were lower in our figures by several thousand dollars, and
the contract was awarded to us.
"Blakeson & Grinder tried, by every means in their power,
to get the job away from us. They even invoked the aid of
some Peruvian revolutionists and politicians, but we held
our ground and began the work. Since then they have had
spies and emissaries on our trail, trying their best to make
us fail in our work, so the Peruvian officials might
abrogate the contract and give it to them.
"But, so far, we've managed to come out ahead. This
Waddington is a sort of spy, and I've found him dodging me
several times of late. I suppose he wants to find out my
plans so as to be ready to jump in the breach in case we
"Do you think your rivals had anything to do with the
difficulties you are now meeting with in digging the
tunnel?" asked Mr. Damon. Mr. Titus shook his head.
"The present difficulties are all of Nature's doing," he
said. "It's just the abnormally hard rock that is bothering
us. Only for that we'd be all right, though we might have
petty difficulties because of the mean acts of Blakeson &
Grinder. But I don't fear them."
"How do you think this Waddington, if it was he, knew you
were coming here?" asked Tom.
"I can only guess. My brother and I have had some
correspondence regarding you, Tom Swift. That is, I
announced my intention of coming to see you, and my brother
wrote me to use my discretion. I wrote back that I would
"Our main office is in New York, where we employ a large
clerical and expert force. There is nothing to prevent one
of our stenographers, for instance, turning traitor and
giving copies of the letters of my brother and myself to our
"Mind you, I don't say this was done, and I don't suspect
any of our employees, but it would be an easy matter for any
one to know my plans. I never thought of making a secret of
them, or of my trip here. In some way Waddington found out
about the last, and he must have followed me here. Then he
sneaked up under the window, and tried to hear what we
"Do you think he did?" asked Tom.
"I wouldn't be surprised. We took no pains to lower our
voices. But, after all, he hasn't learned much that he
didn't know before, if he knew I was coming here. He didn't
learn the secret of the explosive that must be used, and
that is the vital thing. For I defy him, or any other
contractor, to blast that hard rock with any known
explosive. We've tried every kind on the market and we've
failed. We'll have to depend on you, Tom Swift, to help us
out with some of your giant cannon powder."
"And I'm not sure that will work," said the young
inventor. "I think I'll have to experiment and make a new
explosive, if I conclude to go to Peru."
"Oh, you'll go all right!" declared Mr. Titus with a
smile. "I can see that you are eager for the adventures I am
sure you'll find there, and, besides, your friend here, Mr.
Damon, needs you."
"That's what I do, Tom!" exclaimed the odd man. "Bless my
excursion ticket, but you must come!"
"I'll have to invent the new powder first," Tom said.
"That's what I like to hear!" exclaimed Mr. Titus. "It
shows you are thinking of coming with us."
Tom only smiled.
"I am so anxious to get the proper explosive," Went on Mr.
Titus, "that I would even purchase it from our rivals,
Blakeson & Grinder, if I thought they had it. But I'm sure
they have not, though they may think they can get it.
"That may be the reason they are following me so closely.
They may want to know just when we will fail, and have to
give up the contract, and they may think they can step in
and finish the work. But I don't believe, without your help,
Tom Swift, that they can blast that hard rock, and--"
"Well, I'll say this," interrupted Tom, "first come, first
served with me, other things being equal. You have applied
to me and, like a lawyer, I won't go over to the other side
now. I consider myself retained by your firm, Mr. Titus, to
invent some sort of explosive, and if I am successful I
shall expect to be paid."
"Oh, of course!" cried the contractor eagerly.
"Very good," Tom went on. "You needn't fear that I'll help
the other fellows. Now to get down to business. I must see
some samples of this rock in order to know what kind of
explosive force is needed to rend it."
"I have some in New York," went on the contractor. "I'll
have it sent to you at once. I would have brought it, only
it is too heavy to carry easily, and I was not sure I could
"Did that fellow--Waddington, I believe you called him--
get away from you?" asked Mr. Damon.
"Clean away," the contractor answered. "He was a better
runner than I."
"It doesn't matter much," Tom said. "He didn't hear
anything that would benefit him, and I'll give my men orders
to be on the lookout for him. What sort of fellow is he, Mr.
The contractor described the eavesdropper, and Mr. Damon
"Bless my turkey wish-bone! I'm sure I passed that chap
when I was riding over to see you a while ago, Tom."
"Yes, on the highway. He inquired the way to your place.
But there was nothing strange in that, since you employ a
number of men, and I thought this one was coming to look for
work. I can't say I liked his appearance, though."
"No, he isn't a very prepossessing individual," commented
Mr. Titus. "Well, now what's the first thing to be done, Tom
"Get me some samples of the rock, so I can begin my
"I'll do that. And now let us consider about going to
Peru. For I'm sure you will be successful in your
experiments, and will find for us just the powder or
explosive we need."
"We can go together." said Mr. Damon. "I shall certainly
feel more at home in that wild country if I know Tom Swift
is with me, and I will appreciate the help of you and your
friends, Mr. Titus, in straightening out the tangles of our
"I'll do all I can for you, Mr. Damon."
The three then talked at some length regarding possible
plans. Tom sent out word to one of his men to keep a sharp
watch around the house and grounds, against the possible
return of Waddington, but nothing more was seen of him, at
least for the time being.
Mr. Titus drew up a sort of tentative agreement with Tom,
binding his firm to pay a large sum in case the young
inventor was successful, and then the contractor left,
promising to have the rock samples come on later by express.
Mr. Damon, after blessing a few dozen more or less
impersonal objects, took his departure, his fractious horse
having quieted down in the meanwhile, and Tom was left to
"I wonder what I've let myself in for now," the youth
mused, as he went back to his laboratory. "It's a new field
for me--tunnel blasting. Well, perhaps something may come of
But of the strange adventure that was to follow his
agreement to help Mr. Titus, our hero, Tom Swift, had not
the least inkling.
Tom went back to his labors over the gyroscope problem,
but he could arrive at no satisfactory conclusion, and,
tossing aside the papers, covered with intricate figures, he
"Oh, I'm going for a walk! This thing is getting on my
He strolled through the Shopton streets, and as he reached
the outskirts of the town, he saw just ahead of him the
figure of a girl. Tom quickened his pace, and presently was
"Where are you going, Mary?" he asked.
"Oh, Tom! How you startled me!" she exclaimed, turning
around. "I was just thinking of you."
"Thanks! Something nice?"
"I shan't tell you!" and she blushed. "But where are you
"Walking with you!"
Tom was nothing if not bold.
"Hadn't you better wait until you're asked?" she retorted,
"If I did I might not get an invitation. So I'm going to
invite myself, and then I'm going to invite you in here to
have an ice cream soda," and he and Miss Nestor were soon
seated at a table in a candy shop.
Tom had nearly finished his ice cream when he glanced
toward the door, and started at the sight of a man who was
entering the place.
"What's the matter?" asked Mary. "Did you drop some ice
"No, Mary. But that man--"
Mary turned in time to see an excited man hurry out of the
candy shop after a hasty glance at Tom Swift.
"Who was he?" the girl asked.
"I--er--oh, some one I thought I knew, but I guess I
don't," said Tom, quickly. "Have some more cream, Mary?"
"No, thank you. Not now."
Tom was glad she did not care for any, as he was anxious
to get outside, and have a look at the man, for he thought
he had recognized the face as the same that had peered in
his window. But when he and Miss Nestor reached the front of
the shop the strange man was not in sight.
"I guess he came in to cool off after his run," mused Tom,
"but when he saw me he didn't care about it. I wonder if
that was Waddington? He's a persistent individual if it was
"Are you undertaking any new adventures, Tom?" asked Mary.
"Well, I'm thinking of going to Peru."
"Peru!" she cried. "Oh, what a long way to go! And when
you get there will you write to me? I'm collecting stamps,
and I haven't any from Peru."
"Is that--er--the only reason you want me to write?" asked
"No," said Mary softly, as she ran up the walk.
Tom smiled as he turned away.
Three days later he received a box from New York. It
contained the samples from the Andes tunnel, and Tom at once
began his experiments to discover a suitable explosive for
rending the hard stone.
"It is compressed molten lava," said Mr. Swift. "You'll
never get an explosive that will successfully blast that,
"We'll see," declared the young inventor.
Outside a rudely-constructed shack, in the middle of a
large field, about a mile away from the nearest of the
buildings owned by Tom Swift and his father, were gathered a
group of figures one morning. From the shack, trailing over
the ground, were two insulated wires, which led to a pile of
rocks and earth some distance off. Out of the temporary
building came Koku, the giant, bearing in his arms a big
rock, of peculiar formation.
"That's it, Koku!" exclaimed Tom Swift. "Now don't drop it
on your toes."
"No, Master, me no drop," the giant said, as he strode off
with the heavy load as easily as a boy might carry a stone
for his sling-shot.
Koku placed the big rock on top of the pile of dirt and
stones and came back to the hut, just as Eradicate, the
colored man-of-all-work, emerged. Koku was not looking
ahead, and ran into Eradicate with such force that the
latter would have fallen had not the giant clasped his big
arms about him.
"Heah now! Whut yo' all doin' t' me?" angrily demanded
Eradicate. "Yo' done gone an' knocked de breff outen me,
dat's whut yo' all done! I'll bash yo' wif a rock, dat's
what I'll do!"
Koku, laughing, tried to explain that it was all an
accident, but Eradicate would not listen. He looked about
for a stone to throw at the giant, though it was doubtful,
with his feeble strength, and considering the great frame of
the big man, if any damage would have been done. But
Eradicate saw no rocks nearer than the pile in which ended
the two insulated wires, and, with mutterings, the negro set
off in that direction, shuffling along on his rheumatic
From the shack Tom Swift hailed:
"Hi there, Rad! Come back! Where are you going?"
"I'se gwine t' git a rock, Massa Tom, an' bash de haid ob
dat big lummox ob a giant! He done knocked de breff outen
me, so he did."
"You come back from that stone pile!" Tom ordered. "I'm
going to blow it up in a minute, and if you get too near
you'll have the breath knocked out of you worse than Koku
did it. Come back, I say!"
But Eradicate was obstinate and kept on. Tom, who was
adjusting a firing battery in the shack, laughed, and then
in exasperation cried:
"Koku, go and get him and bring him back. Carry him if he
won't come any other way. I don't want the dear old chump to
get the fright of his life, and he sure will if he goes too
close. Bring him back!"
"Koku bring, Master," was the giant's answer.
He ran toward Eradicate, who, seeing his tormentor
approaching, redoubled his shuffling pace toward the stone
pile. But he was no match for the giant, who, ignoring his
struggles, picked up Eradicate, and, flinging him over his
shoulder like a sack of meal, brought him to the shack.
"There him be, Master!" said the giant.
"So I see," laughed Torn. "Now you stay here, Rad."
"No, sah! No, sah, Massa Tom! I--I'se gwine t' git a rock
an'--an' bash his haid--dat's what I'se gwine t' do!" and
the colored man tried to struggle to his feet.
"Look out now!" cried Tom, suddenly. "If things go right
there won't be a rock left for you to 'bash' anybody's head
with, Rad. Look out!"
The three cowered inside the shack, which, though it was
rudely made, was built of beavy logs and planks, with a
fronting of sod and bags of sand.
Tom turned a switch. There was a loud report, and where
the stone pile had been there was a big hole in the ground,
while the air was filled with fragments of rock and dirt.
These came down in a shower on the roof of the shack, and
Eradicate covered his ears with his trembling hands.
"Am--am de world comin' to de end, Massa Tom?" he asked.
"Am dat Gabriel's trump I done heah?"
"No, you dear old goose!" laughed the young inventor.
"That was just a charge of my new explosive--a small charge,
too. But it seems to have done the work."
He ran from the shack to the place where the rock pile had
been, and picked up several small fragments.
"Busted all to pieces!" exulted Tom Swift. "Not a piece
left as big as a hickory nut. That's going some! I've got
the right mixture at last. If an ounce did that, a few
hundred pounds ought to knock that Andes tunnel through the
mountain in no time. I'll telegraph to Mr. Titus."
Leaving Koku and Rad to collect the wires and firing
apparatus, there being no danger now, as no explosive was
left in the shack, Tom made his way back to the house. His
father met him.
"Well, Tom," he asked, "another failure?"
"No, Dad! Success! This time I turned the trick. I seem to
have gotten just the right mixture. Look, these are some of
the pieces left from the big rock--one of the samples Mr.
Titus sent me. It was all cracked up as small as this," and
he held out the fragments he had picked up in the field.
Mr. Swift regarded them for a few moments.
"That's better, Tom," he said. "I didn't think you could
get an explosive that would successfully shatter that hard
rock, but you seem to have done it. Have you the formula all
"All worked out, Dad. I only made a small quantity, but
the same proportions will hold good for the larger amounts.
I'm going to start in and make it now. And then--Ho! for
Tom struck an attitude, such as some old discoverer might
have assumed, and then he hurried into the house to
telephone a telegram to the Shop' ton office. The message
was to Mr. Titus, and read:
"Explosive success. Start making it at once. Ready for
Peru in month's time."
"Thirteen words," repeated Tom, as the operator called
them back to him. "I hope that doesn't mean bad luck."
The experiment which Tom Swift had just brought to a
successful conclusion was one of many he had conducted,
extending over several wearying weeks.
As soon as Tom had received the samples of the rock he had
begun to experiment. First he tried some of the explosive
that was so successful in the giant cannon, As he had
feared, it was not what was needed. It cracked the rock,
but did not disintegrate it, and that was what was needed.
The hard rock must be broken up into fragments that could be
easily handled. Merely to crack it necessitated further
explosions, which would only serve to split it more and
perhaps wedge it fast in the tunnel.
So Tom tried different mixtures, using various chemicals,
but none seemed to be just right. The trials were not
without danger, either. Once, in mixing some ingredients,
there was an explosion that injured one man, and blew Tom
some distance away. Fortunately for him, there was an open
window in the direction in which he was propelled, and he
went through that, escaping with only some cuts and bruises.
Another time there was a hang-fire, and the explosive
burned instead of detonating, so that one of the shops
caught, and there was no little work in subduing the flames.
But Tom would not give up, and finally, after many trials,
he hit on what he felt to be the right mixture. This he took
out to the big lot, and having made a miniature tunnel with
some of the sample rock, and having put some of the
explosive in a hole bored in the big chunk Koku carried, Tom
fired the charge. The result we have seen, It was a success.
A day after receiving Tom's message Mr. Titus came on and
a demonstration was given of the powerful explosive.
"Tom, that's great!" cried the tunnel contractor. "Our
troubles are at an end now."
But, had he known it, new ones were only just beginning.
Tom at once began preparations for making the explosive on
a large scale, as much of it would be needed in the Andes
tunnel. Then, having turned the manufacturing end of it over
to his men, Tom began his preparations for going to Peru.
Mr. Damon was also getting ready, and it was arranged that
he, with Tom and Mr. Titus, should take a vessel from San
Francisco, crossing the continent by train. The supply of
explosive would follow them by special freight.
"We might have gone by Panama except for the slide in the
canal," Tom said. "And I suppose I could take you across the
continent in my airship, Mr. Titus, if you object to
"No, thank you, Tom. If it's just the same to you, I'd
rather stay on the ground," the contractor said. "I'm more
used to it."
A day or so before the start for San Francisco was to be
made, Tom, passing a store in Shopton, saw something in the
window he thought Mary Nestor would like. It was a mahogany
work-box, of unique design, beautifully decorated, and Tom
"Shall I have it sent?" asked the clerk.
"No, thank you," Tom answered.
He knew the young lady who had waited on him, and, for
reasons of his own, he did not want her to know that Mary
was to get the box.
Carrying the present to his laboratory, Tom prepared to
wrap it up suitably to send to Mary, with a note. Just,
however, as he was looking for a box suitable to contain the
gift, he received a summons to the telephone. Mr. Titus, in
New York, wanted to speak to him.
"Here, Rad!" Tom called. "Just box this up for me, like a
good fellow, and then take it to Miss Nestor at this
address; will you?" and Tom handed his man the addressed
letter he had written to Mary. "Be careful of it," Tom
"Oh, I'll be careful, Massa Tom," was the reply. "I'll
shore be careful."
And Eradicate was--all too careful.
Mr. Nestor's Letter
"Got t' git a good strong box fo' dish yeah," murmured
Eradicate, as he looked at the beautiful mahogany present
Tom had turned over to him to take to Mary. "Mah Landy! Dat
suttinly am nice; Ah! Um! Jest laik some ob de old mahogany
furniture dat was in our fambily down Souf." Eradicate did
not mean his family, exactly, but the one in which he had
been a slave.
"Yassum, dat shore am nice!" he went on, talking to
himself as he admired the present. "I shore got t' put dat
in a good box! An' dish year note, too. Let's see what it
done say on de outside."
Eradicate held the envelope carefully upside down, and
read--or rather pretended to read--the name and address.
Eradicate knew well enough where Mary lived, for this was
not the first time he had gone there with messages from his
"Massa Tom shore am a fine writer," mused the negro, as he
slowly turned the envelope around. "I cain't read nobody's
writin' but hisen, nohow."
Had Eradicate been strictly honest with himself, he would
have confessed that he could not read any writing, or
printing either. His education had been very limited, but
one could show him, say, a printed sign and tell him it read
"Danger" or "Five miles to Branchville," or anything like
that, and the next time he saw it, Eradicate would know what
that sign said. He seemed to fix a picture of it in his
mind, though the letters and figures by themselves meant
nothing to him. So when Tom told him the envelope contained
the name and address of Miss Nestor, Eradicate needed
He rummaged about in some odds and ends in the corner of
the laboratory, and brought out a strong, wooden box, which
had a cover that screwed down.
"Dat'll be de ticket!" Eradicate exclaimed. De mahogany
present will jest fit." Eradicate took some excelsior to pad
the box, and then, dropping inside it the gift, already
wrapped in tissue paper, he proceeded to screw on the cover.
There was something printed in red letters on the outside
box, but Eradicate could not read, so it did not trouble
"Dat Miss Nestor shore will laik her present," he
murmured. "An' I'll be mighty keerful ob it' laik Massa Tom
tole me. He wouldn't trust dat big lummox Koku wif anyt'ing
Screwing on the cover, and putting a piece of wrapping
paper outside the rough, wooden box. with the letter in his
hand, Eradicate, full of his own importance, set off for
Miss Nestor's house. Tom had not returned from the
telephone, over which he was talking to Mr. Titus.
The message was an important one. The contractor said he
had received word from his brother in Peru that his presence
was urgently needed there.
"Could you arrange to get off sooner than we planned,
Tom?" asked Mr. Titus. "I am afraid something has happened
down there. Have you sent the first shipment of explosive?"
"Yes, that went three days ago. It ought to arrive at Lima
soon after we do. Why yes, I can start to-night if we have
to. I'll find out if Mr. Damon can be with us on such short
"I wish you would," came from Mr. Titus. "And say, Tom, do
you think you could take that giant Koku with you?"
"Well, I think he'd come in handy. There are some pretty
rough characters in those Andes Mountains, and your big
friend might be useful."
"All right. I was thinking of it, anyhow. Glad you
mentioned it. Now I'll call up Mr. Damon, and I'll let you
know, in an hour or so, if he can make it."
"Bless my hair brush, yes, Tom!" exclaimed the eccentric
man, when told of the change in plans. "I can leave
to-night as well as not."
Word to this effect was sent on to Mr. Titus, and then
began some hurrying on the part of Tom Swift. He told Koku
to get ready to leave for New York at once, where he and the
giant would join Mr. Titus and Mr. Damon, and start across
the continent to take for steamer for Lima, Peru.
"Rad, did you send that present to Miss Nestor?" asked
Tom, later, as he finished packing his grip.
"Yas, sah. I done did it. Took it mase'f!"
"That's good! I guess I'll have to say good-bye to Mary
over the telephone. I won't have time to call. I'm glad I
thought of the present."
Tom got the Nestor house on the wire. But Mary was not in.
"There's a package here for her," said the girl's
mother. "Did you--?"
"Yes, I sent that," Tom said. "Sorry I won't he able to
call and say good-bye, but I'm in a terrible rush. I'll see
her as soon as I get back, and I'll write as soon as I
"Do," urged Mrs. Nestor. "We'll all be glad to hear from
you," for Tom and Mary were tentatively engaged to be
Tom and Koku went on with their hurried preparations to
leave for New York. Eradicate begged to be taken along, but
Tom gently told the faithful old servant that it was out of
"Besides, Rad," he said, "it's dangerous in those Andes
Mountains. Why, they have birds there, as big as cows, and
they can swoop down and carry off a man your size."
"Am dat shorely so, Massa Tom?"
"Of course it is! You get the dictionary and read about
the condors of the Andes Mountains."
"Dat's what I'll do, Massa Tom. Birds as big as cows what
kin pick up a man in dere beaks, an' carry him off! Oh, my!
No, sah, Massa Tom! I don't want t' go. I'll stay right
Shortly before Tom and Koku departed for the railroad
station, where they were to take a train for New York, Mary
Nestor returned home.
"Tom called you on the telephone to say good-bye," her
mother informed her, "and said he was sorry he could not see
you. But he sent some sort of gift."
"Oh, how sweet of him!" Mary exclaimed. "Where is it?"
"On the dining room table. Eradicate brought it with a
Mary read the note first.
In it Tom begged Mary to accept the little token, and to
think of him when she used it.
"Oh! I wonder what it can be," she cried in delight.
"Better open it and see," advised Mr. Nestor, who had come
in at that moment.
Mary cut the string of the outside paper, and folded back
the wrapper. A wooden box was exposed to view, a solid,
oblong, wooden box, and on the top, in bold, red letters
Mary, her father and her mother read:
DYNAMITE! HANDLE WITH CARE!
"Oh! Oh!" murmured Mrs. Nestor.
"Dynamite! Handle with care!" repeated Mr. Nestor, in a
sort of dazed voice. "Quick! Get a pail of water! Dump it in
the bathtub! Soak it good, and then telephone for the
police. Dynamite! What does this mean?"
He rushed toward the kitchen, evidently with the intention
of getting a pail of water, but Mary clasped him by the arm.
"Father!" she exclaimed. "Don't get so excited!"
"Excited!" he cried. "Who's excited? Dynamite! We'll all
be blown up! This is some plot! I don't believe Tom sent
this at all! Look out! Call the police! Excited! Who's
"You are, Daddy dear!" said Mary calmly. "This is some
mistake. Tom did send this--I know his writing. And wasn't
it Eradicate who brought this package, Mother?"
"Yes, my dear. But your father is right. Let him put it in
water, then it will be safe. Oh, we'll all be blown up. Get
"No!" cried Mary. "There is some mistake. Tom wouldn't
send me dynamite, There must be a present for me in there.
Tom must have put it in the wrong box by mistake. I'm going
to open it."
Mary's calmness had its effect on her parents. Mr. Nestor
cooled down, as did his wife, and a closer examination of
the outer box did not seem to show that it was an infernal
machine of any kind.
"It's all a mistake, Daddy," Mary said. "I'll show you.
Get me a screw driver."
After some delay one was found, and Mr. Nestor himself
opened the box. When the tissue paper wrappings of the
mahogany gift were revealed he gave a sigh of relief, and
when Mary undid the wrappings, and saw what Tom had sent
her, she cried:
"Oh, how perfectly dear! Just what I wanted! I wonder how
he knew? Oh, I just love it!" and she hugged the beautiful
box in her arms.
"Humph!" exclaimed Mr. Nestor, a slowly gathering light of
anger showing in his eyes. "It is a nice present, but that
is a very poor sort of joke to play, in my estimation."
"Joke! What joke?" asked Mary.
"Putting a present in a box labeled Dynamite, and giving
us such a scare," went on her father.
"Oh, Father, I'm sure he didn't mean to do it!" Mary said,
"Well, maybe he didn't! He may have thought it a joke, and
he may not have! But, at any rate, it was a piece of gross
carelessness on his part, and I don't care to consider for a
son-in-law a young man as careless as that!"
"Oh, Daddy!" expostulated Mary.
"Now, now! Tut, tut!" exclaimed Mr. Nestor. "It isn't your
fault, Mary, but this Tom Swift must be taught a lesson. He
was careless, if nothing worse, and, for all he knew, there
might have been some stray bits of dynamite in that packing
box. It won't do! It won't do! I'll write him a letter, and
give him a piece of my mind!"
And in spite of all his wife and his daughter could say,
Mr. Nestor did write Tom a scathing letter. He accused him
of either perpetrating a joke, or of being careless, or
both, and he intimated that the less he saw of Tom at the
Nestor home hereafter the better pleased he would be.
"There! I guess that will make him wish he hadn't done
it!" exclaimed Mr. Nestor, as he called a messenger and sent
the letter to Tom's house.
Mary and her mother did not know the con tents of the
note, but Mary tried to get Tom on the wire and explain.
However, she was unable to reach him, as Tom was on the
point of leaving.
The messenger, with Mr. Nestor's letter, arrived just as
our hero was receiving the late afternoon mail from the
postman, and just as Tom and Koku were getting in an
automobile to leave for the depot.
"Good-bye, Dad!" Tom called. "Good-bye, Mrs. Baggert!" He
thrust Mr. Nestor's letter, unopened, together with some
other mail matter, which he took to be merely circulars,
into an inner pocket, and jumped into the car.
Tom and Koku were off on the first stage of their journey.
Off for Peru
"Well, Tom Swift, you're on time I see," was Mr. Job
Titus' greeting, when our hero, and Koku, the giant,
alighted from a taxicab in New York, in front of the hotel
the contractor had appointed as a meeting place.
"Yes, I'm here."
"Did you have a good trip?"
"Oh, all right, yes. Nothing happened to speak of, though
we were delayed by a freight wreck. Has Mr. Damon got here
"Not yet, Tom. But I had a message saying he was on his
way. "Come on up to the rooms I have engaged. Hello, what's
all the crowd here for?" asked the contractor in some
surprise, for a throng had gathered at the hotel entrance.
"I expect it's Koku they're staring at," announced Tom,
and the giant it was who had attracted the attention. He
was carrying his own big valise, and a small steamer trunk
belonging to Tom, as easily as though they weighed nothing,
the trunk being under one arm.
"I guess they don't see men of his size outside of
circuses," commented the contractor. "We can pretty nearly,
though not quite match him, down in Peru though, Tom. Some
of the Indians are big fellows."
"We'll get up a wrestling match between one of them and
Koku," suggested Tom. "Come on!" he called to the giant, who
was surrounded by a crowd.
Koku pushed his way through as easily as a bull might make
his way through a throng of puppies about his heels, and as
Tom, Mr. Titus and the giant were entering the hotel
corridor, the chauffeur of the taxicab called out with a
"I say, boss, don't you think you ought to pay double
rates on that chap," and he nodded in the direction of the
"That's right!" added some one in the crowd with a laugh.
"He might have broken the springs."
"All right," assented Tom, good-naturedly, tossing the
chauffeur a coin. "Here you are, have a cigar on the giant."
There was more laughter, and even Koku grinned, though it
is doubtful if he knew what about, for he could not
understand much unless Tom spoke to him in a sort of code
they had arranged between them.
"Sorry to have hastened your departure," began Mr. Titus
when he and Tom sat in the comfortable hotel rooms, while
Koku stood at a window, looking out at what to him were the
marvelous wonders of the New York streets.
"It didn't make any difference," replied the young
inventor. "I was about ready to come anyhow. I just had to
hustle a little," and he thought of how he had had to send
Mary's present to her instead of taking it himself. As yet
he was all unaware of the commotion it had caused.
"Did you get the powder shipment off all right?"
"Yes, and it will be there almost as soon as we. Other
shipments will follow as we need them. My father will see to
"I'm glad you hit on the right kind of powder," went on
the contractor. "I guess I didn't make any mistake in coming
to you, Tom."
"Well, I hope not. Of course the explosive worked all
right in experimental charges with samples of the tunnel
rock. It remains to be seen what it will do under actual
conditions, and in big service charges."
"Oh, I've no doubt it will work all right."
"What time do we leave here?" Tom asked.
"At two-thirty this afternoon. We have just time to get a
good dinner and have our baggage transferred to the Chicago
limited. In less than a week we ought to be in San Francisco
and aboard the steamer. I hope Mr. Damon arrives on time."
"Oh, you can generally depend on him," said
Tom. "I telephoned him, just before I started
from Shopton, and he said--"
"Bless my carpet slippers!" cried a voice outside the
hotel apartment. "But I can find my way all right. I know
the number of the room. No! you needn't take my bag. I can
carry it my self!"
"There he is!" laughed Tom, opening the door to disclose
the eccentric gentleman himself, struggling to keep
possession of his valise against the importunities of a
"Ah, Tom--Mr. Titus! Glad to see you!" exclaimed Mr.
Damon. "I--I am a little late, I fear--had an accident--wait
until I get my breath," and he sank, panting, into a chair.
"Accident?" cried Tom. "Are you--?"
"Yes--my taxicab ran into another. Nobody hurt though."
"But you're all out of breath," said Mr. Titus. "Did you
"No, but I walked upstairs."
"What! Seven flights?" exclaimed Tom. "Weren't the hotel
Yes, but I don't like them. I'd rather walk. And I did--
carried my valise--bellboy tried to take it away from me
every step--here you are, son--it wasn't the tip I was
trying to get out of," and he tossed the waiting and
grinning lad a quarter.
"There, I'm better now," went on Mr. Damon, when Tom had
given him a glass of water. "Bless my paper weight! The drug
concern will have to vote me an extra dividend for what I've
gone through. "Well, I'm here, anyhow. How is everything?"
"Fine!" cried Tom. "We'll soon be off for Peru!"
They talked over plans and made sure nothing had been
forgotten. Their railroad tickets had been secured by Mr.
Titus so there was nothing more to do save wait for train-
"I've never been to Peru," Tom remarked shortly before
lunch. "What sort of country is it?"
"Quite a wonderful country," Mr. Titus answered. "I have
been very much interested in it since my brother and I
accepted this tunnel contract. Peru seems to have taken its
name from Peru, a small river on the west coast of Colombia,
where Pizarro landed. The country, geographically, may be
divided into three sections longitudinally. The coast
region is a sandy desert, with here and there rivers flowing
through fertile valleys. The sierra region is the Andes
division, about two hundred and fifty miles in width."
"Is that where we're going?" asked Tom.
"Yes. And beyond the Andes (which in Peru consist of great
chains of mountains, some very high, interspersed with table
lands, rich plains and valleys) there is the montana region
of tropical forests, running down to the valley of the
"That sounds interesting," commented Mr. Damon.
"It is interesting," declared Mr. Titus. "For it is from
this tropical region that your quinine comes, Mr. Damon,
though you may not have to go there to straighten out your
affairs. I think you can do better bargaining with the
officials in Lima, or near there."
"Are there any wild animals in Peru?" Tom inquired.
"Well, not many. Of course there are the llamas and
alpacas, which are the beasts of burden--almost like little
camels you might say, though much more gentle. Then there is
the wild vicuna, the fleece of which is made into a sort of
wool, after which a certain kind of cloth is named.
"Then there is the taruco, a kind of deer, the viscacha,
which is a big rat, the otoc, a sort of wild dog, or fox,
and the ucumari, a black bear with a white nose. This bear
is often found on lofty mountain tops, but only when driven
there in search of food.
"The condors, of course, are big birds of prey in the
Andes. You must have read about them; how they seem to lie
in the upper regions of the air, motionless, until suddenly
they catch sight of some dead animal far down below when
they sweep toward it with the swiftness of the wink. There
is another bird of the vulture variety, with wings of black
and white feathers. The ancient Incas used to decorate their
head dresses with these wing feathers."
"Well, I'm glad I'm going to Peru," said Tom. "I never
knew it was such an interesting country. But I don't suppose
we'll have time to see much of it."
"Oh, I think you will," commented Mr. Titus. "We don't
always have to work on the tunnel. There are numerous
holidays, or holy-days, which our Indian workers take off,
and we can do nothing without them. I'll see that you have a
chance to do some exploring if you wish."
"Good!" exclaimed Tom. "I brought my electric rifle with
me, and I may get a chance to pop over one of those bears
with a white nose. Are they good to eat?"
"The Indians eat them, I believe, when they can get them,
but I wouldn't fancy the meat," said the contractor.
Luncheon over, the three travelers departed with their
baggage for the Chicago Limited, which left from the
Pennsylvania Station at Twenty-third Street. As usual, Koku
attracted much attention because of his size.
The trip to San Francisco was without incident worth
narrating and in due time our friends reached the Golden
Gate where they were to go aboard their steamer. They had to
wait a day, during which time Tom and Mr. Titus made
inquiries regarding the first powder shipment. They had had
unexpected good luck, for the explosive, having been sent on
ahead by fast freight, was awaiting them.
"So we can take it with us on the Bellaconda," said, Tom,
naming the vessel on which they were to sail.
The powder was safely stowed away, and our friends having
brought their baggage aboard, putting what was wanted on the
voyage in their staterooms, went out on deck to watch the
lines being cast off.
A bell clanged and an officer cried:
"All ashore that's going ashore!"
There were hasty good-byes, a scramble on the part of
those who had come to bid friends farewell, and preparations
were made to haul in the gangplank.
Just as the tugs were slowly pushing against the
Bellaconda to get her in motion to move her away from the
wharf, there was a shout down the pier and a taxicab, driven
at reckless speed, dashed up.
"Wait a minute! Hold that gangway. I have a passenger for
you!" cried the chauffeur.
He pulled up with a screeching of brakes, and a man with a
heavy black beard fairly leaped from the vehicle, running
toward the plank which was all but cast off.
"My fare! My fare!" yelled the tax~cab driver.
"Take it out of that! Keep the change!" cried the bearded
man over his shoulder, tossing a crumpled bill to the
chauffeur. And then, clutching his valise in a firm hand,
the belated passenger rushed up the gangplank just in time
to board the steamer which was moving away from the dock.
"Close shave--that," observed Tom.
"That's right," assented Mr. Titus.
"Well, we're off for Peru!" exclaimed Mr. Damon, as the
vessel moved down the bay.
The Bearded Man
Travel to Tom and Mr. Damon presented no novelties. They
had been on too many voyages over the sea, under the sea and
even in the air above the sea to find anything unusual in
merely taking a trip on a steamer.
Mr. Titus, though he admitted he had never been in a
submarine or airship, had done considerable traveling about
the world in his time, and had visited many countries,
either for business or pleasure, so he was an old hand at
But to Koku, who, since he had been brought from the land
where Tom Swift had been made captive, had gone about but
little, everything was novel, and he did not know at what to
The giant was interested in the ship, in the water, in the
passengers, in the crew and in the sights to be seen as they
progressed down the harbor.
And the big man himself was a source of wonder to all save
his own party. Everywhere he went about the decks, or below,
he was followed by a staring but respectful crowd. Koku
took it all good-naturedly, however, and even consented to
show his great strength by lifting heavy weights. Once when
several sailors were shifting one of the smaller anchors (a
sufficiently heavy one for all that) Koku pushed them aside
with a sweep of his big arm, and, picking up the big "hook,"
turned to the second mate and asked:
"Where you want him?"
"Good land, man!" cried the astonished officer. "You'll
But Koku carried the anchor where it ought to go, and from
then on he was looked up to with awe and admiration by the
From San Francisco to Callao, Peru (the latter city being
the seaport of Lima, which is situated inland), is
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