Tom Swift And His Big Tunnel
Part 4 out of 4
he pointed to Lamos, who was slowly crawling away, "at the
chist where I kape th' powder, but I thought nothin' of it
at th' time. What did he try t' do, Koku?"
Then the giant explained in his own language, Tom Swift
translating, for Koku spoke English but indifferently well.
"Koku says," rendered Torn, "that he saw Lamos trying to
put a big charge of powder up in the place where the
balanced rock fits in the secret opening of the tunnel roof.
The charge was all ready to fire, and if the giant had set
it off he might have brought down the roof of the tunnel and
so choked it up that we'd have been months cleaning it out.
Koku saw him and stopped him, and then the fight began. We
only saw the end."
"Bless my shoe string!" gasped Mr. Damon. "And a terrible
end it was. Will Lamos die?"
"I don't think so," answered Job Titus. "But he will be a
cripple for life. Not only would he have wrecked the tunnel,
but he would have killed many of our men had he set off that
blast. Koku saved them, though it seems too bad he had to
fight to do it."
An investigation showed that Koku spoke truly. The charge,
all ready to set off, was found where he had knocked it from
the hand of Lamos. And so Tom's giant saved the day. Lamos
was sent back to his own village, a broken and humbled
giant. And to this day, in that part of Peru, the great
struggle between Koku and Lamos is spoken of with awe where
Indians gather about their council fires, and they tell
their children of the Titanic fight.
"It was part of the plot," said Job Titus when the usual
blast had been set off that day, with not very good results.
"This giant was sent to us by our rivals. They wanted him to
hamper our work, for they see we have a chance to finish on
time. I think that foreman, Serato, is in the plot. He
brought Lamos here. We'll fire him!"
This was done, though the Indian protested his innocence.
But he could not be trusted.
"We can't take any chances," said Job Titus. "Our time is
too nearly up. In fact I'm afraid we won't finish on time as
it is. There is too much of that hard rock to cut through."
"There's only one thing to do," said Tom, after an
investigation. "As you say, there is more of that hard rock
than we calculated on. To try to blast and take it out in
the ordinary way will be useless. We must try desperate
"What is that?" asked Walter Titus.
"We must set off the biggest blast we can with safety.
We'll bore a lot of extra holes, and put in double charges
of the explosive. I'll add some ingredients to it that will
make it stronger. It's our last chance. Either we'll blow
the tunnel all to pieces, or we'll loosen enough rock to
make sufficient progress so we can finish on time. What do
you say? Shall we take the chance?"
The Titus brothers looked at one another. Failure stared
them in the face. Unless they completed the tunnel very soon
they would lose all the money they had sunk in it.
"Take the chance!" exclaimed Job. "It's sink or swim
anyhow. Set off the big blast, Tom."
"All right. We'll get ready for it as soon as we can."
That day preparations were made for setting off a great
charge of the powerful explosive. The work was hurried as
fast as was consistent with safety, but even then progress
was rather slow. Precautions had to be taken, and the guards
about the tunnel were doubled. For it was feared that some
word of what was about to be done would reach the rival
firm, who might try desperate means to prevent the
completion of the work.
There was plenty of the explosive on hand, for Mr. Swift
had sent Tom a large shipment. All this while no word had
come from Mr. Nestor, and Tom was beginning to think that
his prospective father-in-law was very angry with him. Nor
had Mary written.
Professor Bumper came and went as he pleased, but his
quest was regarded as hopeless now. Tom and his friends had
little time for the bald-headed scientist, for they were too
much interested in the success of the big blast.
"Well, we'll set her off to-morrow," Tom said one night,
after a hard day's work. "The rocky wall is honeycombed with
explosive. If all goes well we ought to bring down enough
rock to keep the gangs busy night and day."
Everything was in readiness. What would the morrow bring--
success or failure?
The Hidden City
Gathered beyond the mouth of the tunnel, far enough away
so that the wind of the great blast would not bowl them over
like ten pins, stood Tom Swift and his friends. In his hand
Tom held the battery box, the setting of the switch in which
would complete the electrical circuit and set off the
hundreds of pounds of explosive buried deep in the hard
"Are all the men out?" asked the young inventor of Tim
Sullivan, who had charge of this important matter. Tim was
in sole charge as foreman now, having picked up enough of
the Indian language to get along without an interpreter.
"All out, sor," Tim responded. "Yez kin fire whin ready,
It was a portentous moment. No wonder Tom Swift hesitated.
In a sense he and his friends, the contractors, had staked
their all on a single throw. If this blast failed it was not
likely that another would succeed, even if ther should be
time to prepare one.
The time limit had almost expired, and there was still a
half mile of hard rock between the last heading and the
farther end of the big tunnel. If the blast succeeded enough
rock might be brought down to enable the work to go on, by
using a night and day shift of men. Then, too, there was the
chance that the hard strata of rock would come to an end and
softer stone, or easily-dug dirt, be encountered.
"Well, we may as well have it over with," said Tom in a
low voice. Every one was very quiet--tensely quiet.
The young inventor looked up to see Professor Bumper
"Why, Professor!" Tom exclaimed, "I thought you had gone
off to the mountains again, looking for the lost city."
"I am going, Tom, very soon. I thought I would stop and
see the effect of your big blast. This is my last trip. If I
do not find the hidden city of Pelone this time, I am going
to give up."
"Give up!" cried Mr. Damon. "Bless my fountain pen!"
"Oh, not altogether," went on the bald-headed scientist.
"I mean I will give up searching in this part of Peru, and
go elsewhere. But I will never completely give up the
search, for I am sure the hidden city exists somewhere under
these mountains," and he looked off toward the snow-covered
peaks of the Andes.
Tom looked at the battery box. He drew a long breath, and
"Here she goes!"
There was a contraction of his hand as he pressed the
switch over, and then, for perhaps a half second, nothing
happened. Just for an instant Tom feared something had gone
wrong that the electric current had failed, or that the
wires had become disconnected--perhaps through some action
of the plotting rivals.
And then, gently at first, but with increasing intensity,
the solid ground on which they were all standing seemed to
rock and sway, to heave itself up, and then sink down.
"Bless my--" began Mr. Damon, but he got no further, for a
mighty gust of wind swept out of the tunnel, and blew off
his hat. That gust was but a gentle breeze, though, compared
to what followed. For there came such a rush of air that it
almost blew over those standing near the opening of the
great shaft driven under the mountain. There was a roar as
of Niagara, a howling as in the Cave of the Winds, and they
all bent to the blast.
Then followed a dull, rumbling roar, not as loud as might
have been expected, but awful in its intensity. Deep down
under the very foundations of the earth it seemed to rumble.
"Run! Run back!" cried Tom Swift. "There's a back-draft
and the powder gas is poisonous. Stoop down and run back!"
They understood what he meant. The vapor from the powder
was deadly if breathed in a confined space. Even in the open
it gave one a terrible headache. And Tom could see floating
out of the tunnel the first wisps of smoke from the fired
explosive. It was lighter than air, and would rise. Hence
the necessity, as in a smoke-filled room, of keeping low
down where the air is purer.
They all rushed back, stooping low. Mr. Damon stumbled and
fell, but Koku picked him up and, tucking him under one arm,
as he might have done a child, the giant followed Tom to a
place of safety.
"Well, Tom, it went off all right," said Mr. Job Titus, as
they stood among the shacks of the workmen and watched the
smoke pouring out of the tunnel mouth.
"Yes, it went off. But did it do the work? That's what
we've got to find out."
They waited impatiently for the deadly vapor to clear out
of the tunnel. It was more than an hour before they dared
venture in, and then it was with smarting eyes and puckered
throats. But the atmosphere was quickly clearing.
"Switch on the lights," cried Tom to Tim, for the
illuminating current had been cut off when the blast was
fired. "Let's see what we've brought down."
Following the eager young inventor came the contractors,
some of the white workers, Mr. Damon and Professor Bumper.
The little scientist said he would like to see the effect of
the big blast.
Along they stumbled over pieces of rock, large and small.
"Some force to it," observed Job Titus, as he observed
pieces of rock close to the mouth of the tunnel. "If it only
exerted the force the other way, against the face of the
rock, as well as back this way, we'll be all right."
"The greater force was in the opposite direction," Tom
A big search-light had been got ready to flash on the
place where the blast had been set off. This was to enable
them to see how much rock had been torn away. And, as they
reached the place where the flint-like wall had been, they
saw a strange sight.
"Bless my strawberry short-cake!" gasped Mr. Damon. "What
"It is a bole," admitted Tom, in a low voice. "A bigger
hole than I dared hope for."
For a great cave, seemingly, had been blown in the face of
the rock wall that had hindered the progress of the tunnel.
A great black void confronted them.
"Shift the light over this way," called Tom to Walter
Titus, who was operating it. "I can't see anything."
The great beam of light flashed into the void, and then a
murmur of awe came from every throat.
For there, revealed in the powerful electrical rays, was
what seemed to be a long tunnel, high and wide, as smooth as
a paved street. And on either side of it were what appeared
to be buildings, some low, others taller. And, branching off
from the main tunnel, or street, were other passages, also
lined with buildings, some of which had crumbled to ruins.
"Bless my dictionary!" cried Mr. Damon. "What is it?"
Professor Bumper had crawled forward over the mass of
broken rock. He gazed as if fascinated at what the
searchlight showed, and then he cried:
"I have found it! I have found it! The hidden city of Pelone!"
Had it not been for Tom Swift, the excited professor would
have rushed pellmell over the jagged pile of rocks into the
great cave which had been opened by the blast, the cave in
which the scientist declared was the lost city for which he
had been searching. But the young inventor grasped Mr.
Bumper by the arm.
"Better wait a bit," Tom suggested. "There may be powder
gas in there. Some of it must have blown forward."
"I don't care!" excitedly cried the professor. "That is
the hidden city! I'm sure of it! I have found it at last! I
must go in and examine it!"
"There'll be plenty of time," said Tom. "It isn't going to
run away. Wait until I make a test Tim, hand me one of those
Some torches of a very inflammable wood were used to test
for the presence of the deadly smoke-gas. Lighting one of
these, Tom tossed it into the big excavation.
It fell to the stone floor--to the stone street to be more
exact--and, flaring up brightly, further revealed the rows
of houses as they stood, silent and uninhabited.
"It's all right," Tom announced. "There's no danger so
long as the torch burns. You can go on, Professor."
And Professor Bumper rushed forward, scrambling over the
pile of blasted rock, followed by Tom and the others. Some
of the debris from the explosion had fallen into the cave,
and was scattered for some distance along the main street of
what had been Pelone. But beyond that the way was clear.
"Yes, it is Pelone," cried Professor Bumper. "See!"
He pointed to inscriptions in queer characters over the
doorway of some of the houses, but he alone could read them.
"I have found Pelone!" he kept repeating over and over
And that is just what had happened. That last great blast
Tom Swift had set off had broken down the rock wall that hid
the lost city from view. There it was, buried deep down
under the mountain, where it had been covered from sight
ages ago by some mighty earthquake or landslide; perhaps
both. And the earth and rocks had fallen over the main
portion of the city of Pelone in such a way--in such an arch
formation--that the greater part of it was preserved from
the pressure of the mountain above it.
The outlying portions were crushed into dust by the awful
pressure of the mountain--millions of tons of stone--but
where the natural arch had formed the weight was kept off
the buildings, most of which were as perfect as they had
been before the cataclysm came.
The buildings were of stone block construction, mostly
only one story in height, though some were two. They were
simply made, somewhat after the fashion of the Aztecs. A
look into some of them by the light of portable electric
lamps showed that the houses were furnished with some degree
of taste and luxury. There were traces of an ancient
But of the inhabitants, there was not a trace. either they
had fled before the earthquake or the volcanic eruption had
engulfed the city, or the countless centuries had turned
their very bones to dust.
"Oh, what a find! What a find!" murmured Professor Bumper.
"I shall be famous! And so will you, Tom Swift. For it was
your blast that revealed the lost city of Pelone. Your name
will be honored by every archeological society in the world,
and all will be eager to make you an honorary member."
"That's all very nice," said Tom, "but what pleases me
better is that this tunnel is a success."
"Success!" cried Mr. Damon. "I should call it a failure,
Tom Swift. Why, you've run smack into an old city, and
you'll have either to curve the tunnel to one side, or start
a new one."
"Nothing of the sort!" laughed Tom. "Don't you see? The
tunnel comes right up to the main street of Pelone. And the
street is as straight as a die, and just the width and
height of the tunnel. All we will have to do will be to keep
on blasting away, where the main street comes to an end, and
our tunnel will be finished. The street is over half a mile
long, I should judge, and we'll save all that blasting. The
tunnel will be finished in time!"
"So it will!" cried Job Titus. "We can use the main street
of the hidden city as part of the tunnel."
"Use the street all you like," said Mr. Bumper. "but leave
the houses to me. They are a perfect mine of ancient lore
and information. At last I have found it! The ancient,
hidden city of Pelone, spoken of on the Peruvian tablets, of
The story of the discoveries the scientist made in Pelone
is an enthralling one. But this is a story of Tom Swift and
his big tunnel, and no place for telling of the
Suffice it to say that Professor Bumper, though be found
no gold, for which the contractors hoped, made many curious
finds in the ancient houses. He came upon traces of a
strange civilization, though he could find no record of what
had caused the burial of Pelone beneath the mountains. He
wrote many books about his discovery, giving Tom Swift due
credit for uncovering the place with the mighty blast. Other
scientists came in flocks, and for a time Pelone was almost
as busy a place as it had been originally.
Even when the tunnel was completed and trains ran through
it, the scientists kept on with their work of classifying
what they found. An underground station was built on the
main street of the old city, and visitors often wandered
through the ancient houses, wherein was the bone-dust of the
dead and gone people.
But to go back to the story of Tom Swift. Tom's surmise
was right. He and the contractors were able to use the main
street of Pelone as part of their tunnel, and a good half
mile of blasting through solid rock was saved. The flint
came to an end at the extremity of Pelone, and the last part
of the tunnel had only to be dug through sand-stone and soft
dirt, an easy undertaking.
So the big bore was finished on time--ahead of time in
fact, and Titus Brothers received from Senor Belasdo, the
Peruvian representative, a large bonus of money, in which
Tom Swift shared.
"So our rivals didn't balk us after all," said Walter
Titus, "though they tried mighty hard."
The big tunnel was finished--at least Tom Swift's work on
it. All that remained to do was to clear away the debris and
lay the connecting rails. Tom and Mr. Damon prepared to go
back home. The latter's work was done. As for Professor
Bumper, nothing could take him from Pelone. He said he was
going to live there, and, practically, he did.
Tom, Koku and Mr. Damon returned to Lima, thence to go to
Callao to take the steamer for San Francisco. One day the
manager of the hotel spoke to them.
"You are Americans, are you not?" he asked.
"Yes," answered Tom. "Why?"
"Because there is another American here. He is friendless
and alone, and he is dying. He has no friends, he says.
"Of course we'll do what we can for him," said Tom,
impulsively. "Where is he?"
With Mr. Damon he entered the room where the dying man
lay. He had caught a fever, the hotel manager said, and
could not recover. Tom, catching sight of the sufferer,
"The bearded man! Waddington!"
He had recognized the mysterious person who had been on
the Bellaconda, and the man whose face had stared at him
through the secret shaft of the tunnel.
"Yes, the 'bearded man' now," said the sufferer in a
hoarse voice, "and some one else too. You are right. I am
And so it proved. He had grown a beard to disguise himself
so he might better follow Tom Swift and Mr. Titus. And he
had followed them, seeking to prevent the completion of the
tunnel. But he had not been successful.
Waddington it was who had thrown the bomb, though he
declared he only hoped to disable Tom and Mr. Titus, and not
to injure them. He was fighting for delay. And it was
Waddington, working in conjunction with the rascally foreman
Serato, who had induced the tunnel workers to desert so
mysteriously, hoping to scare the other Indians away. He
nearly succeeded too, had it not been for the gratitude of
the woman whose baby Tom had saved from the condor.
Waddington had been an actor before he became involved
with the rival contractors. He was smooth shaven when first
he went to Shopton, to spy on Mr. Titus, whose movements he
had been commanded to follow by Blakeson & Grinder. Then he
disappeared after Mr. Titus chased him, only to reappear, in
disguise, on board the Bellaconda, as Senor Pinto.
Waddington, meanwhile, had grown a beard and this, with
his knowledge of theatrical makeup, enabled him to deceive
even Mr. Titus. Of course it was comparatively easy to
deceive Tom, who had not known him. Waddington had really
been ill when he called for help on the ship, and he had not
noticed that it was Tom and Mr. Titus who came into his
stateroom to his aid. When he did recognize them, he relied
on his disguise to screen him from recognition, and he was
successful. He had only pretended to be ill, though, the
time he slipped out and threw the bomb.
Reaching Peru he at once began his plotting. Serato told
him about the secret shaft leading into the tunnel, and with
the knotted rope, and with the aid of the faithless foreman,
the men were got out of the tunnel and paid to hide away.
Waddington was planning further disappearances when Tom saw
him, but thought it a dream.
Masni, the Indian woman, out herb-hunting one day, had
seen Waddington, 'the bearded man' as he then was--working
the secret stone. Hidden, she observed him and told her
husband, who was afraid to reveal what he knew. But when Tom
saved the baby the woman rewarded him in the only way
possible. And it was Serato, who, at Waddington's
suggestion, caused the "hit" among the men by working on
their superstitious fears.
Waddington, knowing that he was dying, confessed
everything, and begged forgiveness from Tom and his friends,
which was granted, in as much as no real harm had been done.
Waddington was but a tool in the hands of the rival
contractors, who deserted him in his hour of need. His last
hours, however, were made as comfortable as possible by the
generosity of Tom and Mr. Damon.
No effort was made to bring Blakeson & Grinder to justice,
as there was no evidence against them after Waddington died.
And, as the tunnel was finished, the Titus brothers had no
further cause for worry.
"But if it had not been for Tom's big blast, and the
discovery of the hidden city of Pelone just in the right
place, we might be digging at that tunnel yet," said Job
The day before the steamer was to sail, Tom Swift received
a cable message. Its receipt seemed to fill him with
delight, so that Mr. Damon asked:
"Is it from your father, Tom?"
"No it's from Mary Nestor. She says her father has
forgiven me. They have been away, and Mary has been ill,
which accounts for no letters up to now. But everything is
all right now, and they feel that the dynamite trick wasn't
my fault. But, all the same, I'm going to teach Eradicate to
read," concluded Tom.
"I think it would be a good idea," agreed Mr. Damon.
Tom, Mr. Damon and Koku, bidding farewell to the friends
they had made in Peru, went. aboard the steamer, Job Titus
and his brother coming to see them off.
"Give us an option on all that explosive you make, Tom Swift!"
begged Walter Titus. "We were so successful with this tunnel,
thanks to you, that the government is going to have us dig another.
Will you come down and help?"
"Maybe," said Tom, with a smile. "But I'm going home first,"
and once more he read the message from Mary Nestor.
And as Tom, on the deck of the steamer, waved his hands to
Professor Bumper and his other friends whom he was leaving
in Peru, we also, will say farewell.
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