Tom Swift And His Big Tunnel
Part 2 out of 4
approximately nine hundred miles. But as the Bellaconda was
a coasting steamer, and would make several stops on her
trip, it would be more than a week before our friends would
land at Callao, then to proceed to Lima, where they expected
to remain a day or so before striking into the interior to
where the tunnel was being bored through the mountain.
The first day was spent in getting settled, becoming used
to their new surroundings, finding their places and
neighbors at table, and in making acquaintances. There
were some interesting men and women aboard the Bellaconda,
and Tom Swift, Mr. Damon and Mr. Titus soon made friends
with them. This usually came about through the medium of
Koku, the giant. Persons seeing him would inquire about him,
and when they learned he was Tom Swift's helper it was an
easy topic with which to open conversation.
Tom told, modestly enough, how he had come to get Koku in
his escape from captivity, but Mr. Damon was not so simple
in describing Tom's feats, so that before many days had
passed our hero found himself regarded as a personage of
considerable importance, which was not at all to his liking.
"But bless my fountain pen!" cried Mr. Damon, When Tom
objected to so much notoriety. "You did it all; didn't you?"
"Yes, I know. But these people won't believe it."
"Oh, yes they will!" said the odd man. "I'll take good
care that they believe it."
"If any one say it not so, you tell me!" broke Koku,
shaking his huge fist.
"No, I guess I'd better keep still," said Tom, with a
The weather was pleasant, if we except a shower or two,
and as the vessel proceeded south, tropical clothing became
the order of the day, while all who could, spent most of
their time on deck under the shade of awnings.
"Did you ever hear anything more of that fellow,
Waddington?" asked Tom of Mr. Titus one day.
"Not a thing. He seems to have dropped out of sight."
"And are your rivals, Blakeson & Grinder, making any
"Not that I've heard of. Though just what the situation
may be down in Peru I don't know. I fancy everything isn't
going just right or my brother would not be so anxious for
me to come on in such a hurry."
"Do you anticipate any real trouble?"
Mr. Titus paused a moment before answering.
"Well, yes," he said, finally, "I do!"
"What sort?" asked Tom.
"That I can't say. I'll be perfectly frank with you, Tom.
You know I told you at the time that we were in for
difficulties. I didn't want you to go into this thing
"Oh, I'm not afraid of trouble," Tom hastened to assure
his friend. "I've had more or less of it in my life, and I'm
willing to meet it again. Only I like to know what kind it
"Well, I can't tell you--exactly," went an the tunnel
contractor. "Those rivals of ours, Blakeson & Grinder, are
unscrupulous fellows. They feel very bitter about not
getting the contract, I hear. And they would be only too
glad to have us fail in the work. That would mean that they,
as the next lowest bidders, would be given the job. And we
would have to make up the difference out of our pockets, as
well as lose all the work we have, so far, put on the
"And you don't want that to happen!"
"I guess not, my boy! Well, it won't happen if we get
there in time with this new explosive of yours. That will do
the business I'm sure."
"I hope so," murmured Tom. "Well, we'll soon see. And now
I think I'll go and write a few letters. We are going to put
in at Panama, and I can mail them there."
Tom started for his stateroom, and rapidly put his hand in
the inner pocket of his coat. He drew out a bundle of
letters and papers, and, as he looked at them, a cry of
astonishment came from his lips.
"What's the matter?" asked Mr. Titus.
"Matter!" cried Tom. "Why here's a letter from Mary--from
Mr. Nestor," he went on, as he scanned the familiar
handwriting. "I never opened it! Let's see--when did I get
His memory went back to the day of his departure from
Shopton when he had sent Mary the gift, and he recalled that
the letter had arrived just as he was getting into the
"I stuck it in my pocket with some other mail," he mused,
"and I never thought of it again until just now. But this is
the first time I've worn this coat since that day. A letter
from Mr. Nestor! Probably Mary wrote, thanking me for the
box, and her father addressed the envelope for her. Well,
let's see what it says."
Tom retired to the privacy of his stateroom to read the
note, but he had not glanced over more than the first half
of it before he cried out:
"Dynamite! Great Scott! What does this mean? 'Gross
carelessness! Poor idea of a joke! No person with your idea
of responsibility will ever be my son-in-law!' Box labeled
'open with care!' Why--why--what does it all mean?"
Tom read the letter over again, and his murmurs of
astonishment were so loud that Mr. Damon, in the next room,
"What's the matter, Tom?" Get bad news?"
"Bad news? I should say so! Mary--her father--he forbids
me to see her again. Says I tried to dynamite them all--or
at least scare them into believing I was going to. I can't
"Tell me about it, Tom," suggested Mr. Damon, coming into
Tom's stateroom. "Bless my gunpowder keg! what does it
Thereupon Tom told of having purchased the gift for Mary,
and of having, at the last minute, told Eradicate to put it
in a box and deliver it at the Nestor home.
"Which he evidently did," Tom went on, "but when it got
there Mary's present was in a box labeled 'Dynamite. Handle
with care.' I never sent that."
Mr. Damon read over Mr. Nestor's letter which had lain so
long in Tom's pocket unopened.
"I think I see how it happened," said the old man.
"Eradicate can't read; can he, Tom?"
"No, but he pretends he can."
"And did you have any empty boxes marked dynamite in your
"Why yes, I believe I did. I used dynamite as one of the
ingredients of my new explosive."
"Well then, it's as clear as daylight. Eradicate, being
unable to read, took one of the empty dynamite boxes in
which to pack Mary's present. That's how it happened."
Tom thought for a moment. Then he burst into a laugh.
"That's it," he said, a bit ruefully. "That's the
explanation. No wonder Mr. Nestor was roiled. He thought I
was playing a joke. I'll have to explain. But how?"
"By letter," said Mr. Damon.
"Too slow. I'll send a wireless," decided Tom, and he
began the composition of a message that cost him
considerable in tolls before he had hit on the explanation
that suited him.
"That ought to clear the atmosphere," he said when the
wireless had shot his message into the ether. "Whew! And to
think, all this while, Mary and her folks have believed that
I tried to play a miserable joke on them! My! My! I wonder
if they'll ever forgive me. When I get hold of Eradicate--"
"Better teach him to read if he's going to do up love
packages," interrupted Mr. Damon, dryly.
"I will," decided the young inventor.
The Bellaconda stopped at Panama and then kept on her way
south. Soon after that she ran into a severe tropical storm,
and for a time there was some excitement among the
passengers. The more timid of them put on life preservers,
though the captain and his officers assured them there was
Tom and Mr. Titus, descending from the deck, whence they
had been warned by one of the mates, were on their way to
their stateroom, walking with some difficulty owing to the
roll of the ship.
As they approached their quarters the door of a stateroom
farther up the passage opened, and a head was thrust out.
"Will you send a steward to me?" a man requested. "I am
feeling very ill, and need assistance."
"Certainly," Tom answered, and at that moment he heard Mr.
Titus utter an exclamation.
"What is it?" asked Tom, for the man who had appealed for
help, had withdrawn his head.
"That--that man!" exclaimed the contractor. "That was
Waddington, the tool of our rivals."
"Waddington!" repeated Tom, with a look at the now closed
door. "Why, the bearded man has that stateroom--the bearded
man who so nearly lost the steamer. He isn't Waddington!"
"And I tell you Waddington is in that room!" insisted the
contractor. "I only saw the upper part of his face, but I'd
know his eyes anywhere. Waddington is spying on us!"
Tom Swift and Mr. Titus withdrew a little way down the
corridor, around a bulkhead and out of sight of any one who
might look out from the stateroom whence had come the appeal
for help. But, at the same time, they could keep watch over
"I tell you Waddington is in there!" insisted Mr. Titus,
"Well, perhaps he may be," admitted Tom. "But several
times I have seen the bearded man going in there, and it's
only a single stateroom, for it's so marked on the deck
"Waddington might be disguised with a false beard, Tom."
"Yes, he might. But did the man who just now looked out
have a beard?"
"I couldn't tell, as I saw only the upper part of his
face. But those were Waddington's shifty eyes, I'm
"If Waddington were on board don't you suppose you would
have seen him before this?"
"Not positively, no. If he and the bearded man are one and
the same that would account for it. But I haven't noticed
the bearded man once since he came aboard in such a hurry."
"Nor have I, now that I come to think of it," Tom
admitted. "However, there is an easy way to prove who is in
"We'll knock on the door and go in."
"Perhaps he won't let us."
"He'll think it's the steward he called for. Come, you
know Waddington better than I do. You knock and go in."
"I don't know Waddington very well," admitted the
contractor. "I have only seen him a few times, but I am
sure that was he. But what shall I do when he sees I'm not
"Tell him you have sent for one. I'll go with the message,
so it will be true enough. Even if you have only a momentary
glance at him in close quarters you ought to be able to tell
whether or not he has on a false beard, and whether or not
it is Waddington."
Mr. Titus considered for a moment, and then he said:
"Yes, I guess that is a good plan. You go for the steward,
Tom, and I'll see if I can get in that stateroom. But I'm
sure I'm not mistaken. I'll find Waddington in there,
perhaps in the person of the bearded man, disguised. Or else
they are using a single stateroom as a double one." And
while Tom went off down the pitching and rolling corridor to
find a steward, Mr. Titus, not without some apprehension,
advanced to knock on the door of the suspect.
"If it is Waddington he'll know me at once, of course,"
thought the contractor, "and there may be a row. Well, I
can't help it. The success of my brother and myself depends
on finishing that tunnel, and we can't have Waddington, and
those whose tool he is, interfering. Here goes!"
He tapped on the door, and a faint voice called:
The contractor entered, and saw the bearded man lying in
"Is there anything I can do for you?" asked the
contractor, bending close over the man. He wanted to see if
the beard were false. Somewhat to his surprise the
contractor saw that undoubtedly it was real.
"Steward, will you kindly get me--Oh, you're not the
steward!" the bearded man exclaimed.
"No, my friend and I heard you call," replied the
contractor. "He has gone for the steward, who will be here
soon. Can I do anything for you in the meanwhile?"
"No--not a thing!" was the rather snappish answer, and the
man turned his face away. "I beg your pardon," he went on,
as if conscious that he had acted rudely, "but I am
suffering very much. The steward knows just what I want. I
have had these attacks before. I am a poor sailor. If you
will send the steward to me I will be obliged to you. He can
fix me up."
"Very well," assented Mr. Titus. "But if there is anything
I can do --"
At that moment footsteps and voices were heard in the
corridor, and as the door of the bearded man's stateroom was
opened, Mr. Titus had a glimpse of Tom and one of the
"Yes, I'll look after him," the steward said "He's been
this way before. Thank you, sir, for calling me."
"I guess the steward has been well tipped," thought Tom.
As Mr. Titus came out and the door was shut, the young
inventor asked in a whisper
"Well, was it be?"
The contractor shook his head.
"No," he answered. "I never was more surprised in my life.
I felt sure it was Waddington in there, but it wasn't. That
man's beard is real, and while he has a look like Waddington
about the eyes and upper part of his face, the man is a
stranger to me. That is I think so, but in spite of all
that, I have a queer feeling that I have met him before."
"Where?" Tom inquired.
"That I can't say," and the tunnel contractor shook his
head. "Whew! That was a bad one!" he exclaimed, as the
steamer pitched and tossed in an alarming manner.
"Yes, the storm seems to be getting worse instead of
better," agreed Tom. "I hope none of the cargo shifts and
comes banging up against my new explosive. If it does,
there'll be no more tunnel digging for any of us."
"Better not mention the fact of the explosives on board,"
suggested Mr. Titus.
"I won't," promised Tom. "The passengers are frightened
enough as it is. But I watched the powder being stored away.
I guess it is safe."
The storm raged for two days before it began to die away.
Meanwhile, nothing was seen, on deck or in the dining
cabins, of the bearded man.
Tom and Mr. Titus made some guarded inquiries of the
steward who had attended the sick man, and from him learned
that he was down on the passenger list as Senor Pinto, from
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He was traveling in the interests
of a large firm of coffee importers of the United States,
and was going to Lima.
"And there's no trace of Waddington?" asked Tom of Mr.
Titus, as they were discussing matters in their stateroom
"Not a trace. He seems to have dropped out of sight, and
I'm glad of it."
"Perhaps Blakeson & Grinder have given up the fight
"I wish they had, though I don't look for any such good
luck. But I'm willing to fight them, now that we have an
even chance, thanks to your explosive."
The storm blew itself out. The Bellaconda "crossed the
line," and there was the usual horseplay among the sailors
when Father Neptune came aboard to hold court. Those who had
never before been below the equator were made to undergo
more or less of an initiation, being lathered and shaved,
and then pushed backward into a canvas tank of water on
While Tom enjoyed the voyage, with the possible exception
of the storm, he was anxious, and so was Mr. Titus, for the
time to come when they should get to the tunnel and try the
effect of the new explosive. Mr. Damon found an elderly
gentleman as fond of playing chess as was the eccentric man
himself, and his days were fully occupied with castles,
pawns, knights, kings, queens and so on. As for Koku he was
taken in charge by the sailors and found life forward very
Senor Pinto had recovered from his seasickness, the
steward told Tom and Mr. Titus, but still he kept to his
It was when the Bellaconda was within a day or two of
Callao that a wireless message was received for Mr. Titus.
It was from his brother. The message read:
"Have information from New York office that rivals are
after you. Look out for explosive."
"What does that mean?" asked Tom.
"Well, I presume it means our rival contractors know we
have a supply of your new powder on board, and they may try
to get it away from us."
"Why?" Tom demanded.
"To prevent our using it to complete the tunnel. In that
case they'll get the secret of it to use for themselves,
when the contract goes to them by default. Can we do
anything to protect the powder, Tom?"
"Well, I don't know that we'll need to while it's stowed
away in the cargo. They can't get at it any more than we
can, until the ship unloads. I guess it's safe enough. We'll
just have to keep our eyes open when it's taken out of the
Tom and Mr. Titus, both of whom were fond of fresh air and
exercise, had made it a practice to get up an hour before
breakfast and take a constitutional about the steamer deck.
They did this as usual the morning after the wireless
warning was received, and they were standing near the port
rail, talking about this, when they heard a thud on the deck
behind them. Both turned quickly, and saw a round black
object rolling toward them. From the object projected what
seemed to be a black cord, and the end of this cord was
glowing and smoking.
For a moment neither Tom nor Mr. Titus spoke. Then, as a
slow motion of the ship rolled the round black thing toward
Tom, he cried:
"It a bomb!"
He darted toward it, but Mr. Titus pulled him back.
"Run!" yelled the contractor.
Before either of them could do anything, a queer figure of
an elderly gentleman stepped partly from behind a deck-
house, and stooped over the smoking object.
"Look out!" yelled Mr. Titus, crouching low. "That's an
explosive bomb! Toss it overboard!"
Fairly fascinated by the spluttering fuse, neither Tom nor
Mr. Titus moved for a second, while the deadly fire crept on
through the black string-like affair, nearer and nearer to
the bomb itself.
Then, just as Tom, holding back his natural fear, was
about to thrust the thing overboard with his foot, hardly
realizing that it might be even more deadly to the ship in
the water than it was on the deck, the foot of the newcomer
was suddenly thrust out from behind the deck-house, and the
sizzling fuse was trodden upon.
It went out in a puff of smoke, but the owner of the foot
was not satisfied with that for a hand reached down, lifted
the bomb, the fuse of which still showed a smouldering spark
of fire, and calmly pulled out the "tail" of the explosive.
It was harmless then, for the fuse, with a trail of smoke
following, was tossed into the sea, and the little man came
out from behind the deck-house, holding the unexploded bomb.
For a moment neither Tom nor Mr. Titus could speak. They
felt an inexpressible sense of relief. Then Tom managed to
"You--you saved our lives!"
The little man who had stepped on the fuse, and had then
torn it from the bomb, looked at the object in his hand as
though it were the most natural thing in the world to pick
explosives up off the deck of passenger steamers, as he
"Well, perhaps I did. Yes, I think it would have gone off
in another second or two. Rather curious; isn't it?"
"Curious? Curious!" asked and exclaimed Mr. Titus.
"Why, yes," went on the little man, in the most matter of
fact tone. "You see, most explosive bombs are round, made
that way so the force will be equal in all directions. But
this one, you notice, has a bulge, or protuberance, on one
side, so to speak. Very curious!
"It might have been made that way to prevent its rolling
overboard, or the bomb's walls might be weaker near that
bulge to make sure that the force of the explosion would be
in that direction. And the bulge was pointed toward you
gentlemen, if you noticed."
"I should say I did!" cried Mr. Titus. "My dear sir, you
have put us under a heavy debt to you! You saved our lives!
I--I am in no frame of mind to thank you now, but--"
He strode over to the little man, holding out his hand.
"No, no, I'd better keep it," went on the person who had
rendered the bomb ineffective. "You might drop it you know.
You are nervous--your hand shakes."
"I want to shake hands with you!" exclaimed Mr. Titus--
"to thank you!"
"Oh, that's it. I thought you wanted the bomb. Shake
And while this ceremony was being gone through with, Tom
had a moment to study the appearance of the man who had
saved their lives. He had seen the passenger once or twice
before, but had taken no special notice of him. Now he had
good reason to observe him.
Tom beheld a little, thin man, little in the sense of
being of the "bean pole" construction. His head was as bald
as a billiard ball, as the young inventor could notice when
the stranger took off his hat to bow formally in response to
the greeting of some ladies who passed, while Mr. Titus was
shaking hands with him.
The bald head was sunk down between two high shoulders,
and when the owner wished to observe anything closely, as he
was now observing the bomb, the head was thrust forward
somewhat as an eagle might do. And Tom noticed that the
eyes of the little man were as bright as those of an eagle.
Nothing seemed to escape them.
"I want to add my thanks to those of Mr. Titus for saving
our lives," said Tom, as he advanced. "We don't know what to
make of it all, but you certainly stopped that bomb from
"Yes, perhaps I did," admitted the little man coolly and
calmly, as though preventing bomb explosions was his daily
exercise before breakfast.
Tom and Mr. Titus introduced themselves by name.
"I am Professor Swyington Bumper," said the bomb-holder,
with a bow, removing his hat, and again disclosing his shiny
bald head. "I am very glad to have met you indeed."
"And we are more than glad," said Tom, fervently, as he
glanced at the explosive.
"Now that the danger is over," went on Mr. Titus, "suppose
we make an investigation, and find out how this bomb came to
"Just what I was about to suggest," remarked Professor
Bumper. "Bombs, such as this, do not sprout of themselves on
bare decks. And I take it this one is explosive."
"Let me look at it," suggested Tom. "I know something of
It needed but a casual examination on the part of one who
had done considerable experimenting with explosives to
disclose the fact that it had every characteristic of a
dangerous bomb. Only the pulling out of the fuse had
rendered it harmless.
"If it had gone off," said Tom, "we would both have been
killed, or. at least, badly injured, Mr. Titus."
"I believe you, Tom. And we owe our lives to Professor
"I'm glad I could be of service, gentlemen," the scientist
remarked, in an easy tone. "Explosives are out of my line,
but I guessed it was rather dangerous to let this go off.
Have you any idea how it got here?"
"Not in the least," said Tom. "But some one must have
placed it here, or dropped it behind us."
"Would any one have an object in doing such a thing?" the
Tom and Mr. Titus looked at one another.
"Waddington!" murmured the contractor. "If he were on
board I should say he might have done it to get us out of
the way, though I would not go so far as to say he meant to
kill us. It may be this bomb has only a light charge in it,
and he only meant to cripple us."
"We'll find out about that," said Tom. "I'll open it."
"Better be careful," urged Mr. Titus.
"I will," the young inventor promised. "I beg your
pardon," he went on to Professor Bumper. "We have been
talking about something of which you know nothing. Briefly,
there is a certain man who is trying to interfere in some
work in which Mr. Titus and I are interested, and we think,
if he were on board, he might have placed this bomb where it
would injure us."
"Is he here?" asked the professor.
"No. And that is what makes it all the more strange," said
Mr. Titus. "At one time I thought he was here, but I was
Tom took the now harmless bomb to his stateroom, and
there, after taking the infernal machine apart, he
discovered that it was not as dangerous as he had at first
The bomb contained no missiles, and though it held a
quantity of explosive, it was of a slow burning kind. Had it
gone off it would have sent out a sheet of flame that would
have severely burned him and Mr. Titus, but unless
complications had set in death would not have resulted.
"They just wanted to disable us," said the contractor.
"That was their game. Tom, who did it?"
"I don't know. Did you ever see this Professor Bumper
"I never did."
"And did it strike you as curious that he should happen to
be so near at hand when the bomb fell behind us?"
"I hadn't thought of that," admitted the contractor. "Do
you mean that he might have dropped it himself?"
"Well, I wouldn't go so far as to say that," replied Tom,
slowly. "But I think it would be a good idea to find out
all we can of Professor Swyington Bumper."
"I agree with you, Tom. We'll investigate him."
In the Andes
Professor Swyington Bumper seemed to live in a region all
by himself. Though he was on board the Bellaconda, he might
just as well have been in an airship, or riding along on the
back of a donkey, as far as his knowledge, or recognition,
of his surroundings went. He seemed to be thinking thoughts
far, far away, and he was never without a book--either a
bound volume or a note-book. In the former he buried his
hawk-like nose, and Tom, looking over his shoulder once, saw
that the book was printed in curious characters, which,
later, he learned were Sanskrit. If he had a note-book the
bald-headed professor was continually jotting down memoranda
"I can hardly think of him as a conspirator against us,"
said Tom to Mr. Titus.
"After you have been in the contracting business as long
as I have you'll distrust every one," was the answer.
"Waddington isn't on board, or I'd distrust him. That
Spaniard, Senor Pinto. seems to be out of consideration, and
there only remains the professor. We must watch him."
But Professor Bumper proved to be above suspicion.
Carefully guarded inquiries made of the captain, the purser
and other ships' officers, brought out the fact that he was
well known to all of them, having traveled on the line
"He is making a search for something, but he won't say
what it is," the captain said. "At first we thought it was
gold or jewels, for he goes away off into the Andes
Mountains, where both gold and jewels have been found. He
never looks for treasure, though, for though some of his
party have made rather rich discoveries, he takes no
interest in them."
"What is he after then?" asked Mr. Titus.
"No one knows, and he won't tell. But whatever it is he
has never found it yet. Always, when he comes back,
unsuccessful, from a trip to the interior and goes back
North with us, he will remark that he has not the right
directions. That he must seek again.
"Back he comes next season, as full of hope as before, but
only to be disappointed. Each time he goes to a new place in
the mountains where he digs and delves, so members of the
parties he hires tell me, but with no success. He carries
with him something in a small iron box, and, whatever this
is, he consults it from time to time. It may be directions
for finding whatever he is after. But there seems to be
"This is quite a mystery," remarked Tom.
"It certainly is. But Professor Bumper is a fine man. I
have known him for years."
"This seems to dispose of the theory that he planted the
bomb, and that he is one of the plotters in the pay of
Blakeson & Grinder," said Mr. Titus, when he and Tom were
"Yes, I guess it does. But who can have done it?"
That was a question neither could answer.
Tom had a theory, which he did not disclose to Mr. Titus,
that, after all, the somewhat mysterious Senor Pinto might,
in some way, be mixed up in the bomb attempt. But a close
questioning of the steward on duty near the foreigner's
cabin at the time disclosed the fact that Pinto had been ill
in his berth all that day.
"Well, unless the bomb fell from some passing airship, I
don't see how it got on deck," said Tom with a shake of his
head. "And I'm sure no airship passed over us."
They had kept the matter secret, not telling even Mr.
Damon, for they feared the eccentric man would make a fuss
and alarm the whole vessel. So Mr. Damon, occasionally
blessing his necktie or his shoe laces, played chess with
his elderly gentleman friend and was perfectly happy.
That Professor Bumper not only had kept his promise about
not mentioning the bomb, but that he had forgotten all about
it, was evident a day or two after the happening. Tom and
Mr. Titus passed him on deck, and bowed cordially. The
professor returned the salutation, but looked at the two in
a puzzled sort of fashion.
"I beg your pardon," he remarked, "but your faces are
familiar, though I cannot recall your names. Haven't I seen
"You have," said Tom, with a smile. "You saved our lives
from a bomb the other day."
"Oh, yes! So I did! So I did!" exclaimed Professor Bumper.
"I felt sure I had seen you before. Are you all right?"
"Yes. There haven't been any more bombs thrown at us," the
contractor said. "By the way, Professor Bumper, I understand
you are quite a traveler in the Andes, in the vicinity of
"Yes, I have been there," admitted the bald-headed
scientist in guarded tones.
"Well, I am digging a tunnel in that vicinity," went on
Mr. Titus, "and if you ever get near Rimac, where the first
cutting is made, I wish you would come and see me--Tom too,
as he is associated with me."
"Rimac-Rimac," murmured the professor, looking sharply at
the contractor. "Digging a tunnel there? Why are you doing
that?" and he seemed to resent the idea.
"Why, the Peruvian government engaged me to do it to
connect the two railroad lines," was the answer. "Do you
know anything about the place?"
"Not so much as I hope to later on," was the unexpected
answer. "As it happens I am going to Rimac, and I may visit
"I wish you would," returned Mr. Titus.
Later on, in their stateroom, the contractor remarked to
the young inventor:
"Sort of queer; isn't it?"
"What?" asked Tom. "His not remembering us?"
"No, though that was odd. But I suppose he is forgetful,
or pretends to be. I mean it's queer he is going to Rimac."
"What do you mean?" asked Tom.
"Well, I don't know exactly what I mean," went on the
tunnel contractor, "but our tunnel happens to start at
Rimac, which is a small town at the base of the mountains."
"Maybe the professor is a geologist," suggested Tom, "and
he may want to get some samples of that hard rock."
"Maybe," admitted Mr. Titus. "But I shall keep my eyes on
him all the same. I'm not going to have any strangers, who
happen to be around when bombs drop near us, get into my
"I think you're wrong to doubt Professor Bumper," Tom
A few days after this, when Tom and Mr. Titus were
casually discussing the weather on deck and wondering how
much longer it would be before they reached Callao, Mr.
Damon, who had been playing numberless games of chess, came
up for a breath of air.
"Mr. Damon," called Tom, "come over here and meet a friend
of ours, Professor Bumper," and he was about to introduce
them, for the two, as far as Tom knew, had not yet met. But
no sooner had the professor and Mr. Damon caught sight of
each other than there was a look of mutual recognition.
"Bless my fountain pen!" cried the eccentric man. "If it
isn't my old friend!"
"Mr. Damon!" cried the professor. "I am delighted to see
you again. I did not know you were on board!"
"Nor I you. Bless my apple dumpling! Are you still after
those Peruvian antiquities?"
"I am, Mr. Damon. But I did not know you were acquainted
with Mr. Swift."
"Oh, Tom and I are old friends."
"Professor Bumper saved the lives of Mr. Titus and
myself," said Tom, "or at least he saved us from severe
injury by a bomb."
"Pray do not mention it, my friends," put in the
professor, casually. "It was nothing."
Of course he did not mean it just that way.
Then, naturally, Mr. Damon had to be told all about the
bomb for the first time, and his wonder was great. He
blessed everything he could think of.
"And to think it should be my old friend, Professor
Bumper, who saved you," said the odd man to Tom and Mr.
Titus later that day.
"Do you know him well?" asked Mr. Titus.
"Very well indeed. Our drug concern sells him many
chemicals for his experiments."
"Well, if you know him I guess he can't be what I thought
he was," the contractor went on. "I'm glad to know it. Why
is he going to the Andes?"
"Oh, for many years he has been interested in collecting
Peruvian antiquities. He has a certain theory in regard to
something or other about their ancient civilization, but
just what it is I have, at this moment, forgotten. Only I
know you can thoroughly trust Professor Bumper, for a finer
man never lived, though he is a bit absent-minded at times.
But you will like him very much."
Thus the last lingering doubt of Professor Bumper was
removed. Mr. Damon told something of how the scientist had
been honored by degrees from many colleges and was regarded
as an authority on Peruvian matters.
But who had placed the bomb on deck remained a mystery.
In due time Callao, the seaport of Lima, was reached and
our friends disembarked. Tom saw to the unloading of the
explosive, which was to be sent direct to the tunnel at
Rimac. Mr. Titus, Tom and Mr. Damon would remain in Lima a
day or so.
Professor Bumper disembarked with our friends, and stopped
at the same hotel. Tom kept a lookout for Senor Pinto, but
did not see him, and concluded that the Spaniard was ill,
and would be carried ashore on a stretcher, perhaps.
Lima, the principal city and capital of Peru, proved an
interesting place. It was about eight miles inland and was
built on an arid plain about five hundred feet above sea
level. Yet, though it was on what might be termed a desert,
the place, by means of irrigation, had been made into a
Tom found the older part of the city was laid out with
mathematical regularity, each street crossing the other at
right angles. But in the new portions there was not this
adherence to straightness.
"Bless my transfer! Why, they have electric cars here!"
exclaimed Mr. Damon, catching sight of one on the line
between Callao and the capital.
"What did you think they'd have?" asked Mr. Titus,
"elephants or camels?"
"I--I didn't just know," was the answer.
"Oh, you'll find a deal of civilization here," the
contractor said. "Of course much of the population is negro
or Indian, but they are often rich and able to buy what they
want. There is a population of over 150,000, and there are
two steam railroads between Callao and Lima, while there is
one running into the interior for 130 miles, crossing the
Andes at an elevation of over three miles. It is a branch of
that road, together with a branch of the one running to
Ancon, that I am to connect with a tunnel."
Tom found some beautiful churches and cathedrals in Lima,
and spent some time visiting them. He and Mr. Damon also
visited, in the outskirts, the tobacco, cocoa and other
Three days after reaching the capital, Mr. Titus having
attended to some necessary business while Mr. Damon set on
foot matters connected with his affairs, it was decided to
strike inland to Rimac, and to try the effect of Tom Swift's
explosive on the tunnel.
The journey was to be made in part by rail, though the
last stages of it were over a rough mountain trail, with
llamas for beasts of burden, while our friends rode mules.
As Tom, Mr. Damon, Koku, and Mr. Titus were going to the
railroad station they saw Professor Bumper also leaving the
"I believe our roads lie together for a time," said the
bald-headed scientist, "and, if you have no objections, I
will accompany you."
"Come, and welcome!" exclaimed Mr. Titus, all his
suspicions now gone.
"And it may be that you will be able to help me," the
scientist went on.
"Help you--how?" asked Tom.
"I will tell you when we reach the Andes," was the
It was a day later when they left the train at a small
station, and struck off into the foothills of the great
Andes Mountains, where the tunnel was started, that the
professor again mentioned his object.
"Friends," he said, as he gazed up at the towering cliffs
and crags, "I am searching for the lost city of Pelone,
located somewhere in these mountains. Will you help me to
Mr. Damon, of the three who heard Professor Bumper make
this statement, showed the least sign of astonishment. It
would have been more correct to say that he showed none at
all. But Tom could not restrain himself.
"The lost city of Pelone!" he exclaimed.
"Is it here--in these mountains?" asked Mr. Titus.
"I have reason to hope that it is," went on the professor.
"The golden tablets are very vague, but I have tried many
locations, and now I am about to try here. I hope I shall
succeed. At any rate, I shall have agreeable company, which
has not always been my luck on my previous expeditions
seeking to find the lost city."
"Oh, Professor, are you still on that quest?" asked Mr.
Damon, in a matter-of-fact tone.
"Yes, Mr. Damon, I am. And now that I look about me, and
see the shape of these mountains, I feel that they conform
more to the description on the golden plates than any
location I have yet tried. Somehow I feel that I shall be
"Did you know Professor Bumper was searching for a lost
city of the Andes?" asked Tom, of his eccentric friend.
"Why yes," answered Mr. Damon. "He has been searching for
years to locate it."
"Why didn't you tell us?" inquired Mr. Titus.
"Why, I never thought of it. Bless my memorandum book! it
never occurred to me. I did not think you would be
interested. Tell them your story, Professor Bumper."
"I will soon. Just now I must see to my equipment. The
story will keep."
And though Tom and Mr. Titus were both anxious to hear
about the lost city, they, too, had much to do to get ready
for the trip into the interior.
The beginning of the tunnel under one of the smaller of
the ranges of the Andes lay two days journey from the end of
the railroad line. And the trip must be made on mules, with
llamas as beasts of burden, transporting the powder and
"We'll only need to take enough food with us for the two
days," said Mr. Titus. "We have a regular camp at the tunnel
mouth, and my brother has supplies of grub and other things
constantly coming in. We also have shacks to live in; but on
this trip we will use tents, as the weather at this season
It was quite a little expedition that set off up the
mountain trail that afternoon, for they had arrived at the
end of the railroad line shortly before dinner, and had
eaten at a rather poor restaurant.
Professor Bumper had made up his own exploring party,
consisting of himself and three native Indian diggers with
their picks and shovels. They were to do whatever excavating
he decided was necessary to locate the hidden city.
Several mules and llamas, laden with the new explosive,
and burdened with camp equipment and food, and a few Indian
servants made up the cavalcade of Tom, the contractor, Mr.
Damon and Koku. The giant was almost as much a source of
wonder to the Peruvians as he had been on board the ship.
And he was a great help, too. For some of the Indians were
under-sized, and could not lift the heavy boxes and packages
to the backs of the beasts of burden.
But Koku, thrusting the little men aside, grasped with one
hand what two of them had tried in vain to lift, and set it
on the back of mule or llama.
The way was rough but they took their time to it, for the
trail was an ascending one. Above and beyond them towered
the great Andes, and Tom, gazing up into the sky, which in
places seemed almost pierced by the snow-covered peaks, saw
some small black specks moving about.
"Condors," said Mr. Titus, when his attention was called
to them. "Some of them are powerful birds, and they
sometimes pick up a sheep and make off with it, though
usually their food consists of carrion."
They went into camp before the sun went down, for it grew
dark soon after sunset, and they wanted to be prepared.
Supper was made ready by the Indian helpers, and when this
was over, and they sat about a camp fire, Tom said:
"Now, Professor Bumper, perhaps you'll explain about the
"I wish I could explain about it," began the scientist.
"For years I have dreamed of finding it, but always I have
been disappointed. Now, perhaps, my luck may change."
"Do you think it may be near here?" asked Mr. Titus,
motioning toward the dark and frowning peaks all about them.
"It may be. The signs are most encouraging. In brief, the
story of the lost city of Pelone is this. Thousands of years
ago--in fact I do not know how many--there existed somewhere
in Peru an ancient city that was the centre of civilization
for this region. Older it was than the civilization of the
Mexicans--the Montezumas--older and more cultured.
"It is many years since I became interested in Peruvian
antiquities, and then I had no idea of the lost city. But
some of the antiques I picked up contained in their
inscriptions references to Pelone. At first I conceived this
to be a sort of god, a deity, or perhaps a powerful ruler.
But as I went on in my work of gathering ancient things from
Peru, I saw that the name Pelone referred to a city--a seat
of government, whence everything had its origin.
"Then I got on the track more closely. I examined ancient
documents. I found traces of an ancient language and
writings, different from anything else in the world. I
managed to construct an alphabet and to read some of the
documents. From them I learned that Pelone was a city
situated in some fertile valley of the Andes. It had existed
for thousands of years; it was the seat of learning and
culture. Much light would be thrown on the lives of the
people who lived in Peru before the present races inhabited
it, if I could but locate Pelone.
"Then I came across two golden tablets on which were
graven the information that Pelone had utterly vanished."
"How?" asked Tom.
"The golden tablets did not say. They simply stated the
fact that Pelone was lost, and one sentence read: 'He who
shall find it again shall be richly rewarded.' But it is not
for that that I seek. It is that I may give to the world the
treasures it must contain--the treasures of an ancient
"And how do you think the city disappeared?" asked Mr.
"I do not know. Whether it was destroyed by enemies,
whether it was buried under the ashes of a volcano, whether
it still exists, deserted and solitary in some valley amid
the mountain fastnesses of the Andes, I do not know. But I
am certain the city once existed, and it may exist yet,
though it may be in dust-covered ruins. That is what I seek
to find. See! Here are the tablets telling about it. I got
them from an old Peruvian grave."
He took from a box two thin sheets of yellow metal. They
were covered with curious marks, but Tom and the others
could make nothing of them. Only Professor Bumper was able
to decipher them.
"And that is the story of the lost city of Pelone --as
much as I know," he said. "For years I have sought it. If I
can find it I shall be famous, for I shall have added to
"If the people of that city wrote on golden tablets, the
yellow metal must have been plentiful," commented Mr. Titus.
"You might strike a rich mine."
"I have no use for riches," said the professor.
"Well, I have," the contractor said, with a laugh. "That's
why I'm putting through this tunnel. And if my brother and I
don't do it we'll be in a bad way financially. We have
struck traces of gold, but not in paying quantities. I
should like to see this lost city of yours, Professor
Bumper. It may contain gold."
"You may have all the gold, if I am allowed to keep the
antiquities we find," stipulated the scientist. "Then you
will help me in my search?"
"As much as we can spare time for from the tunnel work,"
promised Mr. Titus. "I'll instruct my men to keep their eyes
open for any sign of ancient writings on the rocks we blast
"Thank you," said the professor.
The night passed uneventfully enough, if one excepts the
mosquitoes which seemed to get through the nets, making life
miserable for all. And once Tom thought he heard gruntings
in the bush back of the tent, which noises might, he
imagined, have been caused by a bear. Toward morning he
heard an unearthly screech in the woods, and one of the
Indians, tending the fire, grunted out a word which meant
"I can see it isn't going to be dull here," Tom mused, as
he turned over and tried to sleep.
Breakfast made them all feel better, and they set off on
the final stage of their journey.
"If all goes well we'll be at the tunnel entrance and camp
to-night," said the contractor. "This second half of the
trip is the roughest."
There was no need of saying that, for it was perfectly
evident. The trail was a most precarious one, and only a
mule or llama could have traveled it. The mules were most
sure-footed, but, as it was, one slipped, and came near
falling over a cliff.
But no real accident occurred, and finally, about an hour
before sunset, the cavalcade turned down the slope and
emerged on a level plain, which ended against the face of a
As Tom rode nearer the cliff he could make out around it
groups of rude buildings, covered with corrugated iron.
There was quite a settlement it seemed.
Then, in the face of the cliff there showed something
black--like a blot of ink, though more regular in outline.
"The mouth of the tunnel," said Mr. Titus to Tom. "Come on
over to the office and I'll introduce you to my brother. I
guess he will be glad we've arrived."
Tom dismounted from his mule, an example followed by the
others. Professor Bumper gazed up at the great mountains and
"I wonder if the lost city of Pelone lies among them?"
Suddenly the silence of the evening was broken by a dull,
"Bless my court plaster!" cried Mr. Damon. "What's that?"
"A blast," answered Mr. Titus. "But I never knew them to
set off one so late before. I hope nothing is wrong!"
And, as he spoke, panic-stricken men began running out of
the mouth of the tunnel, while those outside hastened toward
them, shouting and calling.
"Something has happened!" cried Mr. Titus as he ran
forward, followed by Tom, Mr. Damon and Koku. Professor
Bumper started with them, but on the way he saw a curious
bit of rock which he stopped to pick up and examine.
At the entrance of the tunnel, from which came rushing
dirt-stained and powder-blackened men, Mr. Titus was met by
a man who seemed to be in authority.
"Hello, Job!" he cried. "Glad you're back. We're in
"What's the matter?" was the question. "This is my brother
Walter," he said. "This is Tom Swift and Mr. Damon," thus
hurriedly he introduced them. "What happened, Walter?"
"Premature blast. Third one this week. Somebody is working
"Never mind that now," cried Job Titus. "We must see to
the poor fellows who are hurt." "I guess there aren't many,"
his brother said. "They were on their way out when the
charge went off. Some more of Blakeson & Grinder's work,
They were rushing in to the smoke-filled tunnel now,
followed by Tom, Mr. Damon and Koku, who would follow his
young master anywhere. Tom saw that the tunnel was lighted
with incandescent lamps, suspended here and there from the
rocky roof or sides. The electric lights were supplied with
current from a dynamo run by a gasoline engine.
"Where is it, Serato? Where was the blast?" asked Walter
Titus, of a tall Indian, who seemed to be in some authority.
"Back at second turn," was the answer, in fairly good
English. "I go get beds."
"He means stretchers," translated Job. "That's our
Peruvian foreman. A good fellow, but easily scared."
They ran on into the tunnel, Tom and Mr. Damon noticing
that a small narrow-gage railroad was laid on the floor,
mules being the motive power to bring out the small dump
cars loaded with rock and dirt, excavated from the big hole.
"Mind the turn!" called Job Titus, who was ahead of Tom
and Mr. Damon. "It's rough here."
Tom found it so, for he slipped over some pieces of rock,
and would have fallen had not Koku held him up.
"Thanks," gasped Tom, as on he ran.
A little later he came to a place where a cluster of
electric lights gave better illumination, and he could see
it was there that the damage had been done.
A number of men were lying on the dirt and rock floor of
the tunnel, and some of them were bleeding. Others were
staggering about as though shocked or stunned.
"We must get the injured ones out of here!" cried Walter
Titus. "Where are the men with stretchers?"
"I sint that Spalapeen Serato for thim!" broke in a voice,
rich in Irish brogue. "But he's thot stupid he might think I
was after sindin' him fer wather!"
"No, Tim. Serato is after the stretchers all right," said
Walter. "We passed him on the way."
"That's Tim Sullivan, our Irish foreman, though he has
only a few of his own kind to boss," explained Job Titus in
Some of the workmen (all of whom save the few Irish
referred to were Peruvian Indians) had now recovered from
their shock, or fright, and began to help the Titus
brothers, Tom, Mr. Damon and Koku in looking after the
injured. Of these there were five, only two of whom were,
seemingly, seriously hurt.
"Me take them out," said Koku, and placing one gently over
his left shoulder, and the other over his right, out of the
tunnel he stalked with them, not waiting for the stretchers.
And it was well he did so, for one man was in need of an
immediate operation, which was performed at the rude
hospital the contractors maintained at the tunnel mouth. The
other man died as Koku was carrying him out, but the giant
had saved one life.
Serato, the Indian foreman, with some of his men now came
in, and the other injured were carried out on stretchers,
being attended to by the two doctors who formed part of the
tunnel force. Among a large body of men some were always
falling ill or getting hurt, and in that wild country a
doctor had to be kept near at hand.
When the excitement had died down, and it was found that
one death would be the total toll of the accident and that
the premature blast had done no damage to the tunnel, the
two Titus brothers began to consider matters.
Tom, Mr. Damon and the two contractors sat in the main
office and talked things over. Koku was eating supper,
though the others had finished. but, naturally, it took Koku
twice as long as any one else. Professor Bumper was busy
transcribing material in his note-book.
"Well, I'm glad you've come back, Job," said his brother.
"Things have been going at sixes and sevens here since you
went to get some new kind of blasting powder. By the way, I
hope you got it, for we are practically at a standstill."
"Oh, I got it all right--some of Tom Swift's best--
specially made for us. And, better still, I've brought Tom
back with me."
"So I see. Well, I'm glad he's here."
"Now what about this accident to-day?" went on Job.
"Well, as I said, it's the third this week. All of them
seemed to be premature blasts. But I've sent for some of the
fuses used. I'm going to get at the bottom of this. Here is
Sullivan with them now. Come in, Tim," he called, as the
Irishman knocked at the door.
"Are they the fuses used in the blasts?" Walter asked.
"They are, sor. An' they mostly burn five minutes, which
is plenty of time fer all th' min t' git out of danger. Only
this time th' fuse didn't seem to burn more than a minute,
an' I lit it meself."
"Let's see how long they burn now," suggested Job.
One of the longer fuses was lighted. It spluttered and
smoked, while the contractors timed it with their watches.
"Four minutes!" exclaimed Job. "That's queer, and they're
the regular ten minute length. I wonder what this means.
He took up another fuse, and examined it closely.
"Why!" he cried. "These aren't our fuses at all. They're
another make, and much more rapid in burning. No wonder
you've been having premature blasts. They go off in about
half the time they should."
"I can't understhand thot!" said Tim, thoughtfully. "I
keep all the fuses locked up, and only take thim out when I
"Then somebody has been at your box, Tim, and they took
out our regular fuses and put in these quicker ones. It's a
game to make trouble for us among our men, and to damage the
"Bless my rubber boots!" cried Mr. Damon. "Who would do a
thing like that?"
"Our rivals, perhaps, though I do not like to accuse any
man on such small evidence," said Walter. "But we must adopt
"And be very careful of the fuses," said Job.
"Thot's what I will!" declared Tim. "I'll put th' supply
in a new place. No wonder there was blasts before th' min
could git out th' way! Bad cess t' th' imps thot did this!"
and he banged his big fist down on the table.
Since the trouble began a guard had been always posted
around the tunnel entrance and surrounding buildings, and
this night the patrol was doubled. Tom, Mr. Damon and the
two Titus brothers sat up quite late, talking over plans
Professor Bumper went to bed early, as he said he was
going to set off before sunrise to make a search for the
"I regard him as more or less of a visionary," said Mr.
Job Titus; "but he seems a harmless gentleman, and we'll do
all we can to help him."
"Surely," agreed his brother.
The night was not marked by any disturbance, and after
breakfast, Tom, under the guidance of the Titus brothers,
looked over the tunnel with a view to making his first
experiment with the new explosive.
The tunnel was being driven straight into the face of one
of the smaller ranges of the Andes Mountains. It was to be
four miles in length, and when it emerged on the other side
it would enable trains to make connections between the two
railroads, thus tapping a rich and fertile country.
On the site of the tunnel, which was two days' mule travel
east from Rimac, the Titus brothers had assembled their
heavy machinery. They had brought some of their own men,
including Tim Sullivan, with them, but the other labor was
that of Peruvian Indians, with a native foreman, Serato,
There were engines, boilers, dynamos, motors, diamond
drills, steam shovels and a miniature railway, with mules as
the motive power. A small village had sprung up at the
tunnel mouth, and there was a general store, besides many
buildings for the sleeping and eating quarters of the
laborers, as well as places where the white men could live.
Their quarters were some distance from the native section.
Powder, supplies, in fact everything save what game could
be obtained in the forest, or what grains or fruits were
brought in by natives living near by, had to be brought over
the rough trail. But Titus Brothers had a large experience
in engineering matters in wild and desolate countries, and
they knew how to be as comfortable as possible.
Mr. Damon learned that one of the districts whence his
company had been in the habit of getting quinine was distant
a day's journey over the mountain, so he decided to make the
trip, with a native guide, and see if he could get at the
bottom of the difficulty in forwarding shipments.
This was a few days after the arrival of our friends.
Meanwhile, Tom had been shown all through the tunnel by the
Titus Brothers and had had his first sight of the hard cliff
of rock which seemed to be a veritable stone wall in the way
of progress--or at least such progress as was satisfactory
to the contractors.
"Well, we'll try what some of my explosive will do," said
Tom, when he had finished the examination. "I don't claim it
will be as successful as the sample blast we set off at
Shopton, but we'll do our best."
Holes were drilled in the face of the rock, and several
charges of the new explosive tamped in. Wires were attached
to the fuses, which were of a new kind, and warning was
given to clear the tunnel. The wires ran out to the mouth of
the horizontal shaft and Tom, holding the switch in his hand
made ready to set off the blast.
"Are they all out?" he asked Tim Sullivan, who had
emerged, herding the Indian laborers before him. Tim
insisted on being the last man to seek safety when an
explosion was to take place.
"All ready, sor," answered the foreman.
"Here she goes!" cried Tom, as his fingers closed the
There was a dull, muffled report, a sort of rumbling that
seemed to extend away down under the earth and then echo
back again until the ground near the mouth of the tunnel,
where the party was standing, appeared to rock and heave.
There followed a cloud of yellow, heavy smoke which made one
choke and gasp, and Tom, seeing it, cried:
"Down! Down, everybody! There's a back draft, and if you
breathe any of that powder vapor you'll have a fearful
headache! Get down, until the smoke rises!"
The tunnel contractors and their men understood the
danger, for they had handled explosives before. It is a
well-known fact that the fumes of dynamite and other giant
powders will often produce severe headaches, and even
illness. Tom's explosive contained a certain percentage of
dynamite, and he knew its ill effects. Stretched prone, or
crouching on the ground, there was little danger, as the
fumes, being lighter than air, rose. The yellow haze soon
drifted away, and it was safe to rise.
"Well, I wonder how much rock your explosive tore loose
for us, Tom," observed Job Titus, as he looked at the thin,
yellowish cloud of smoke that was still lazily drifting from
"Can't tell until we go in and take a look," replied the
young inventor. "It won't be safe to go in for a while yet,
though. That smoke will hang in there a long time. I didn't
think there'd be a back draft."
"There is, for we've often had the same trouble with our
shots," Walter Titus said. "I can't account for it unless
there is some opening in the shaft, connecting with the
outer air, which admits a wind that drives the smoke out of
the mouth, instead of forward into the blast hole. It's a
queer thing and we haven't been able to get at the bottom of
"That's right," agreed his brother. "We've looked for some
opening, or natural shaft, but haven't been able to find it.
Sometimes we shoot off a charge and everything goes well,
the smoke disappears in a few minutes. Again it will all
blow out this way and we lose half a day waiting for the air
to clear. There's a hidden shaft, or natural chimney, I'm
sure, but we can't find it."
"Thot blast didn't make much racket," commented Tim
Sullivan. "I doubt thot much rock come down. An' thot's not
sayin' anythin' ag'in yer powder, lad," he went on to Tom.
"Oh, that's all right," Tom Swift replied, with a laugh.
"My explosive doesn't work by sound. It has lots of power,
but it doesn't produce much concussion."
"We've often made more noise with our blasts," confirmed
Job Titus, "but I can't say much for our results."
They were all anxious, Tom included, to hurry into the
tunnel to see how much rock had been loosened by the blast,
but it was not safe to venture in until the fumes had been
allowed to disperse. In about an hour, however, Tim
Sullivan, venturing part way in, sniffed the air and called:
"It's all right, byes! Air's clear. Now come on!"
They all hurried eagerly into the shaft, Mr. Damon
stumbling along at Tom's side, as anxious as the lad
himself. Before they reached the face of the cliff against
which the bore had been driven, and which was as a solid
wall of rock to further progress, they began to tread on
fragments of stone.
"Well, it blew some as far back as here," said Walter
Titus. "That's a good sign."
"I hope so," Tom remarked.
There were still some fumes noticeable in the tunnel, and
Mr. Damon complained of a slight feeling of illness, while
Koku, who kept at Tom's side, murmured that it made his eyes
smart. But the sensations soon passed.
They came to a stop as the face of the cliff loomed into
view in the glare of a searchlight which Job Titus switched
on. Then a murmur of wonder came from every one, save from
Tom Swift. He, modestly, kept silent.
"Bless my breakfast orange!" cried Mr. Damon. "What a big
There was a great gash blown in the hard rock which had
acted as a bar to the further progress of the tunnel. A
great heap of rock, broken into small fragments, was on the
floor of the shaft, and there was a big hole filled with
debris which would have to be removed before the extent of
the blast could be seen.
"That's doing the work!" cried Job Titus.
"It beats any two blasts we ever set off," declared his
"Much fine!" muttered the Peruvian foreman, Serato.
"It's a lalapaloosa, lad! Thot's what it is!"
enthusiastically exclaimed Tim Sullivan. "Now the black
beggars will have some rock to shovel! Come on there,
Serato, git yer lazy imps t' work cartin' this stuff away.
We've got a man on th' job now in this new powder of Tom
Swift's. Git busy!"
"Um!" grunted the Indian, and he called to his men who
were soon busy with picks and shovels, loading the loosened
rock and earth into the mule-hauled dump cars which took it
to the mouth of the tunnel, whence it was shunted off on
another small railroad to fill in a big gulch to save
Tom's first blast was very successful, and enough rock was
loosed to keep the laborers busy for a week. The contractors
were more than satisfied.
"At this rate we'll finish ahead of time, and earn a
premium," said Job to his brother.
"That's right. You didn't make any mistake in appealing to
Tom Swift. But I wonder if Blakeson & Grinder have given up
trying to get the job away from us?"
"I don't know. I'd never trust them. We must watch out for
Waddington. That bomb on the vessel had a funny look, even
if it was not meant to kill Tom or me. I won't relax any."
"No, I guess it wouldn't be safe."
But a week went by without any manifestation having been
made by the rival tunnel contractors. During that week more
of Tom's explosive arrived, and he busied himself getting
ready another blast which could be set off as soon as the
debris from the first should have been cleared away.
Meanwhile, Professor Bumper, with his Indian guides and
helpers, had made several trips into the mountain regions
about Rimac, but each time that he returned to the tunnel
camp to renew his supplies, he had only a story of failure
"But I am positive that somewhere in this vicinity is the
lost Peruvian city of Pelone," he said. "Every indication
points to this as the region, and the more I study the
plates of gold, and read their message, the more I am
convinced that this is the place spoken of.
"But we have been over many mountains, and in more
valleys, without finding a trace of the ancient civilization
I feel sure once flourished here. There are no relics of a
lost race--not so much as an arrow or spear head. But,
somehow or other, I feel that I shall find the lost city.
And when I do I shall be famous!"
"Mr. Damon and I will help you all we can, Tom said. "As
soon as I get ready the next blast I'll have a little time
to myself, and we will go with you on a trip or two."
"I shall be very glad to have you," the bald-headed
Tom's second blast was even more successful than the
first, and enough of the hard rock was loosed and pulverized
to give the Indian laborers ten days' work in removing it
from the tunnel.
Then, as the services of the young inventor would not be
needed for a week or more, he decided to go on a little trip
with Professor Bumper.
"I'll come too," said Mr. Damon. "One of the sub-
contractors whose men are gathering the cinchona bark for
our firm has his headquarters in the region where you are
going, and I can go over there and see why he isn't up to
Accordingly, preparations having been made to spend a week
in camp in the forests of the Andes, Tom and his party set
off one morning. Professor Bumper's Indian helpers would do
the hard work, and, of course, Koku, who went wherever Tom
went, would be on hand in case some feat of strength were
It was a blind search, this hunt for a lost city, and as
much luck might be expected going in one direction as in
another; so the party had no fixed point toward which to
travel. Only Mr. Damon stipulated that he wanted to reach a
certain village, and they planned to include that on their
Tom Swift took his electric rifle with him, and with it he
was able to bring down a couple of deer which formed a
welcome addition to the camp fare.
The rifle was a source of great wonder to the Peruvians.
They were familiar with ordinary firearms, and some of them
possessed old-fashioned guns. But Tom's electric weapon,
which made not a sound, but killed with the swiftness of
light, was awesome to them. The interpreter accompanying
Professor Bumper confided privately to Tom that the other
Indians regarded the young inventor as a devil who could, if
he wished, slay by the mere winking of an eye.
Mr. Damon located the quinine-gathering force he was
anxious to see, and, through the interpreter, told the chief
that more bark must be brought in to keep up to the terms of
But something seemed to be the matter. The Indian chief
was indifferent to the interpreted demands of Mr. Damon, and
that gentleman, though he blessed any number of animate and
inanimate objects, seemed to make no impression.
"No got men to gather bark, him say," translated the
"Hasn't got any men!" exclaimed Mr. Damon. "Why, look at
all the lazy beggars around the village."
This was true enough, for there were any number of able-
bodied Indians lolling in the shade.
"Him say him no got," repeated the translator, doggedly.
At that moment screams arose back of one the grass huts,
and a child ran out into the open, followed by a savage dog
which was snapping at the little one's bare legs.
"Bless my rat trap!" gasped Mr. Damon. "A mad dog!"
Shouts and cries arose from among the Indians. Women
screamed, and those who had children gathered them up in
their arms to run to shelter. The men threw all sorts of
missiles at the infuriated animal, but seemed afraid to
approach it to knock it over with a club, or to go to the
relief of the frightened child which was now only a few feet
ahead of the animal, running in a circle.
"Me git him!" cried Koku, jumping forward.
"No, Wait!" exclaimed Tom Swift. "You can kill the dog
all right, Koku," he said, "but a scratch from his tooth
might be fatal. I'll fix him!"
Snatching his electric rifle from the Indian bearer who
carried it, Tom took quick aim. There was no flash, no
report and no puff of smoke, but the dog suddenly crumpled
up in a heap, and, with a dying yelp, rolled to one side.
The child was saved.
The little one, aware that something had happened, turned
and saw the stretched out form of its enemy. Then, sobbing
and crying, it ran toward its mother who had just heard the
While the mothers gathered about the child, and while the
older boys and girls made a ring at a respectful distance
from the dog, there was activity noticed among the men of
the village. They began hurrying out along the forest paths.
"Where are they going?" asked Tom. "Is there some trouble?
Was that a sacred dog, and did I get in bad by killing it?"
The interpreter and the native chief conversed rapidly for
a moment and then the former, turning to Tom, said:
"Men go git cinchona bark now. Plenty get for him," and he
pointed to Mr. Damon. "They no like stay in village. T'ink
yo' got lightning in yo' pocket," and he pointed to the
"Oh, I see!" laughed Tom. "They think I'm a sort of
wizard. Well, so I am. Tell them if they don't get lots of
quinine bark I'll have to stay here until all the mad dogs
The interpreter translated, and when the chief had ceased
replying, Tom and the others were told:
"Plenty bark git. Plenty much. Yo' go away with yo'
lightning. All right now."
"Well, it's a good thing I keeled over that dog," Tom
said. "It was the best object lesson I could give them.~'
And from then on there was no more trouble in this
district about getting a supply of the medicinal bark.
A week passed and Professor Bumper was no nearer finding
the lost city than he had been at first. Reluctantly, he
returned to the tunnel camp to get more provisions.
"And then I'll start out again," he said.
"We'll go with you some other time," promised Tom. "But
now I expect I'll have to get another blast ready."
He found the debris brought down by the second one all
removed, and in a few days, preparations for exploding more
of the powder were under way.
Many holes had been drilled in the face of the cliff of
hard rock, and the charges tamped in. Electric wires
connected them, and they were run out to the tunnel mouth
where the switch was located.
This was done late one afternoon, and it was planned to
set off the blast at the close of the working day, to allow
all night for the fumes to be blown away by the current of
air in the tunnel.
"Get the men out, Tim," said Tom, when all was ready.
"All right, sor," was the answer, and the Irish foreman
went back toward the far end of the bore to tell the last
shift of laborers to come out so the blast could be set off.
But in a little while Tim came running back with a queer
look on his face.
"What's the matter?" asked Tom. "Why didn't you bring the
men with you?"
"Because, sor, they're not there!"
"Not in the tunnel? Why, they were working there a little
while ago, when I made the last connection!"
"I know they were, but they've disappeared."
"Yis sir. There's no way out except at this end an' you
didn't see thim come out: did you?"
"Then they've disappeared! That's all there is to it! Bad
goin's on, thot's what it is, sor! Bad!" and Tim shook his
"There must be some mistake," said Tom, wondering if the
Irish foreman were given to joking. Yet he did not seem that
kind of man.
"Mistake? How can there be a mistake, sor? I wint in there
to tell th' black imps t' come out, but they're not there to
"What's the trouble?" asked Job Titus, coming out of the
office near the tunnel mouth. "What's wrong, Tom?"
"Why, I sent Tim in to tell the men to come out, as I was
going to set off a blast, but he says the men aren't in
there. And I'm sure the last shift hasn't come out."
By this time Koku, Mr. Damon and Walter Titus had come up
to find out what the trouble was.
"The min have disappeared--that's all there is to it!" Tim
"Perhaps they have missed their way--the lights may have
gone out, and they might have wandered into some abandoned
cutting," suggested Tom.
"There aren't any abandoned cuttin's," declared Tim. "It's
a straight bore, not a shaft of any kind. I've looked
everywhere, and th' min aren't there I tell ye!"
"Are the lights going?" asked Job. "You might have missed
them in the dark, Tim."
"The lights are going all right, Mr. Titus," said the
young man in charge of the electrical arrangements. "The
dynamo hasn't been stopped to-day."
"Come on, we'll have a look," proposed Walter Titus.
"There must be some mistake. Hold back the blast, Tom."
"All right," and the young inventor disconnected the
electrical detonating switch. "I'll come along and have a
look too," he added. "Don't let anybody meddle with the
wires, Jack," he said to the young Englishman who was in
charge of the dynamo.
Into the dimly-lit tunnel advanced the party of
investigators, with Tim Sullivan in the lead.
"Not a man could I find!" he said, murmuring to himself.
"Not a man! An' I mind th' time in Oireland whin th' little
people made vanish a whole village like this, jist bekase
ould Mike Maguire uprooted a bed of shamrocks."
"That's enough of your superstitions, Tim," warned Job
Titus. "If some of the other Indians hear you go on this way
they'll desert as they did once before."
"Did they do that?" asked Tom.
"Yes, we had trouble that way when we first began the
work. The place here was a howling wilderness then, and
there were lots of pumas around.
"A puma is a small sized lion, you know, not specially
dangerous unless cornered. Well, some of the men had their
families here with them, and a couple of children
disappeared. The story got started that there was a big
puma--the king of them all--carrying off the little ones,
and my brother and I awoke one morning to find every laborer
missing. They departed bag and baggage. Afraid of the
"What did you do?"
"Well, we organized ourselves and our white helpers into a
hunting party and killed a lot of the beasts. There wasn't
any big one though."
"And what had become of the children?"
"They weren't eaten at all. They had wandered off into the
woods, and some natives found them and took care of them.
Eventually, they got back home. But it was a long while
before we could persuade the Indians to come back. Since
then we haven't had any trouble, and I don't want Tim, with
his superstitious fancies, to start any."
"But the min are gone!" insisted the Irish foreman, who
had listened to this story as he and the others walked
"We'll find them," declared Mr. Titus.
But though they looked all along the big shaft, and though
the place was well lighted by extra lamps that were turned
on when the investigation started, no trace could be found
of the workmen, who had been left in the tunnel to finish
tamping the blast charges. The party reached the rocky
heading, in the face of which the powerful explosive had
been placed, and not an Indian was in sight. Nor, as far as
could be told, was there any side niche, or blind shaft, in
which they could be hiding.
Sometimes, when small blasts were set off, the men would
go behind a projecting shoulder of rock to wait until the
charge had been fired, but now none was in such a refuge.
"It is queer," admitted Walter Titus. "Where can the men
Back to Full Books